Cotter: We must find a solution at breakdown

CLERMONT Auvergne coach Vern Cotter has urged his side to lift their game another notch in anticipation of an improved Leinster performance for Saturday’s Heineken Cup showdown at the Aviva Stadium.

Joe Schmidt’s men took a well-deserved losing bonus point out of the 19-13 defeat to Clermont at Stade Marcel Michelin last Sunday and Cotter expects a winner-takes-all confrontation when the sides meet again this weekend.

“We need a little more intensity, perhaps,” said Cotter. “Leinster played a really good game but I think they’ll try and lift themselves onto another level this weekend.

“The Heineken Cup is something very, very important for Leinster. So there’s that alongside the fact that a victory would probably assure them qualification. We know that if we want to get into the quarter finals, we have to win over there.”

The run up to this game has not been short of a few barbed comments over in France where the fall-out from last weekend’s events has continued to make headlines.

The region’s local paper La Montagne branded Leinster as “arrogant” because of supposed transgressions at the breakdown last Sunday. Combined with allegations from Clermont about a lack of respect, Saturday’s match is unlikely to be short on a little sizzle.

To that end, Cotter is aware that if the French Champions can do what Leinster did to them, half the battle will be won.

“We’ll try to find a solution at the breakdown and get the ball away more rapidly. Things like that could have a big bearing on the match. We’ll try to make two or three adjustments.”

Preparations for the match have hardly been ideal from a Clermont point of view. The inclement weather conditions in the Auvergne region and the six day turnaround between matches certainly haven’t helped but Leinster could argue a somewhat similar case.

In addition, Cotter has had his share of worries over the fitness of some key players. Argentine tighthead prop Martin Scelzo will miss the trip to Dublin, with a broken wrist.

However Cotter had better news on flanker Alexandre Lapandry and All Black No.8 Sione Lauaki. The backrow’s, who both missed training on Wednesday with rib and knee injuries respectively, are expected to be fit for the clash in Dublin.”

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