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Clermont coach Vern Cotter intends to bring his side all the way in the Heineken Cup

Updated: Saturday, 15 Dec 2012 19:42 | Comments

Vern Cotter: "It's a game of rugby - it doesn't always go the way we want, but our intention is to go as far as we can."
Vern Cotter: "It's a game of rugby - it doesn't always go the way we want, but our intention is to go as far as we can."

Clermont Auvergne head coach Vern Cotter has his eyes firmly on reaching the Heineken Cup final after his side saw off Leinster 28-21 at the Aviva Stadium.

The French giants suffered semi-final heartbreak at the hands of Leinster last April, but they have now nudged the defending champions towards elimination from this season's tournament.

Clermont look nailed on for a home quarter-final after man of the match Morgan Parra's 23-point haul, allied to Wesley Fofana's first-half try, did the business for them in Dublin.

They have an enviable eight-point buffer at the top of Pool Five, with second-placed Leinster needing to beat the Scarlets and Exeter Chiefs - with a bonus point or two - in order to reach the last eight as one of the best runners-up.

Speaking after another pulsating clash, Cotter said: "We intend to go the whole way. It's a game of rugby - it doesn't always go the way we want, but our intention is to go as far as we can.

"Last year we lost a semi-final in Bordeaux. Goodness knows what would have happened if Wesley (Fofana) had scored that try (in the last minute of the semi-final against Leinster).

"We didn't get a crack at the final. We would like to get there and see if we can get over the line and take the title. That is our firm intention."

"We intend to go the whole way" - Vern Cotter

Successive defeats in this double header - Leinster were 15-12 losers in Clermont last Sunday - have the Irish province clinging onto their title.

Head coach Joe Schmidt admitted they need a miracle to make the knockout stages.

"Miracles happen in sport, I guess, but mathematical long shots very seldom come into being," admitted the New Zealander, whose side earned a losing bonus point thanks to a late Fergus McFadden try.

Schmidt pointed to the strength in depth at Clermont's disposal, adding: "I don't think we have the same depth as some of the big-spending French clubs. It's hard to take defeat two weeks in a row, with the amount of effort the players put in.

"I don't think we have the same depth as some of the big-spending French clubs" - Joe Schmidt

"The other challenge for champions is they always look pretty good when they are on top. It is how they come back from adversity that is the real challenge."

Although Clermont celebrated with their fans in the stadium after ending a run of five defeats on Irish soil over a five-year span, Cotter will keep his players' feet on the ground.

"All the criteria that is important for a top performance - technical, tactical, physical, psychological - I thought we were present in all those sectors," he added. "Without getting too carried away, we are reasonably happy.

"We will now try to negotiate the next three games in the Top 14 before getting ourselves up for a final effort to qualify (for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals)."

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