Cotter pays tribute to Dragons' fire
April 21, 2007

Clermont Auvergne coach Vern Cotter paid tribute to Newport Gwent Dragons' fighting spirit as the French side powered into the European Challenge Cup final.

Clermont beat their Welsh visitors 46-29 in the last-four clash to book their place in next month's final against Bath or Saracens.

He said: ``They never lied down, (they) made life hard for us and they deserve credit for that.

``I'm delighted we are through to the final but they certainly pushed us all the way.

``A lot of teams would have backed down with the lead we had at the break but they kept on coming and pushing us.''

Cotter added: ``It's a relief to be in the final and we can look forward to that now and the big occasion.

``My players deserve to be in there and hopefully we can go on and win it now.''

Opposite number Paul Turner admitted the better side had won on the day.

``We knew it would be tough and we gave our all,'' he said.

``With such a small squad it's hard for us and that was exposed at time out there against a strong French side.

``Our accuracy and set-piece was poor and we were punished and the game went away from us because of that.''

Turner admitted Clermont's first-half display where they racked up a 27-12 interval lead settled the last-four tie.

``We said the first 20 minutes would be crucial and that let us down.

``It's always hard coming back from that.''

The home side's tries came through Aurelien Rougerie, Gonzolo Longo, Thomas Domingo, Tony Marsh, Brice Miguel and Pierre Mignoni. Bruce James kicked two penalties and five conversions.

The Dragons touched down twice through Aled Brew, with the other tries coming from Adam Black, Ian Gough and Phil Dollman, with Ceri Sweeney kicking two conversions.

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