Former Saracens and England winger David Strettle scored a try for Clermont Auvergne as they set up a European Champions Cup final against his old team with a dramatic 27-22 win over Leinster.
Fiji flanker Peceli Yato also touched down as a dominant Clermont ran up a 15-3 half-time lead, but Leinster fought back after the break through the boot of fly-half Johnny Sexton and centre Gary Ringrose’s try and the hosts needed two drop goals from No10 Camille Lopez to clinch a showdown with holders Saracens in Edinburgh on 13 May.
It might have been different had Dan Leavy’s second-half try for Leinster not been disallowed for a foul earlier in the move. That handed Clermont a penalty that Morgan Parra converted to open up a six-point gap.
“We always knew they would have a purple patch. We had to start well, hold on when they got on top after half-time and then finish strongly,” said Strettle, who joined Clermont in 2015 after five years at Saracens.
“I think Saracens have got better since I left, but I can see in the two years that I have been here how important this tournament is to the club.”
Sexton was left to rue Leinster’s slow start but had few complaints about the result. “We were beaten by an impressive side, who have been impressive all year,” he said. “We have to take our hats off and say they were better than us.”
Ford agony in Bath defeat
Stade Francais are set to meet Gloucester in the European Challenge Cup final, meanwhile, after a last-minute drop-goal from flay-half Jules Plisson earned them a 28-25 semi-final victory over Bath.
England fly-half George Ford had the chance to level for Bath, who scored 19 unanswered points to roar back from 18-6 down, but missed a penalty in the dying seconds.