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David Price to fight Tony Thompson in February at Liverpool Echo Arena

Price to fight Thompson in February in latest stepping stone towards world title shot

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UPDATED:

20:33 GMT, 18 December 2012

David Price will take the next step towards a challenge for a world title when he faces American veteran Tony Thompson on February 23 at Liverpool's Echo Arena.

The 29-year-old heavyweight has enjoyed a successful year, stopping all four of his opponents in impressive style.

But he will face the biggest test of his career to date when he tackles Thompson, 41, who lost to Wladimir Klitschko for the second time in July.

Impressive: David Price has won all four of his heavyweight fights this year

Impressive: David Price has won all four of his heavyweight fights this year

Price began the year without a title but needed just 73 seconds to beat John McDermott for the English belt and less than four rounds to add the British and Commonwealth straps by stopping Sam Sexton.

A brutal 82-second demolition of Audley Harrison followed before he defended his titles again last month against Matt Skelton.

Different class: Tony Thompson (right) has twice lost to Wladimir Klitschko (left)

Different class: Tony Thompson (right) has twice lost to Wladimir Klitschko (left)

Thompson meanwhile has lost three of his 39 contests and has stopped 24 of his opponents.

Price’s promoter Frank Maloney said: ‘This is the right fight at the right time for David and one where a win will propel him even higher.

‘Thompson still has ambition and I am certain that he will come to win and score a major upset.’

David Price ready for Matt Skelton

I won't be Mr Nice in the ring, insists Price ahead of Skelton challenge

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UPDATED:

18:37 GMT, 28 November 2012

Nice guy David Price is happy to keep nurturing his nasty streak as he builds his growing reputation as the hottest property in heavyweight boxing.

The genial Liverpudlian's stock has continued to rise in 2012 with a series of brutal wins brought about by his devastating punching power.

Price, 29, hopes to finish a successful year in style when he defends his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles against tough veteran Matt Skelton at Aintree on Friday.

Head to head: David Price (left) takes on Matt Skelton in Liverpool on Friday

Head to head: David Price (left) takes on Matt Skelton in Liverpool on Friday

After destroying other British rivals such as Tom Dallas, John McDermott, Sam Sexton and Audley Harrison in brutal style, the pressure is on for Price to repeat such ferocity.

And the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist admits even he has been taken aback by his explosive power.

'I've surprised myself with my progress at times,' he said. 'I've expected the fights to be a bit more difficult.

'It's the punch power which surprises me because in training I know I can punch, but it's when I put the 10oz gloves on, get in the ring and start punching then that it produces results which I didn't think were possible.

'I have got that nastiness in there. It's something that people always thought I never had. I've heard a lot of people say to me 'you're too nice'.

'But being nice is one thing and being soft is another and I'm not soft.'

Knockout: Price destroyed Audley Harrison in the first round in his last fight

Knockout: Price destroyed Audley Harrison in the first round in his last fight

Price added: 'I might be a nice person but when I'm in that ring a completely different persona comes out. It's heavyweight boxing, at the end of the day.

'If I don't finish the job it can give them an opportunity to take me out. It only takes one punch. So I want to get them out of there as quickly as possible and when I hit someone, I make sure they stay hit.

'That's what boxing is about. It's the noble art. For all the trash talking involved in boxing – which there is a place for, because people get excited about it, but it's not for me – there's always room for gentlemanly conduct as well.

'I just be myself and be normal and it comes across well to the fans as someone they can relate to.

'There's also a market for the trash talk as well, so it creates a nice balance.'

After such progress this year, the selection of Skelton (28-6) as challenger has drawn criticism from some quarters.

On the rise: Price remains unbeaten as he looks to dominate the heavyweight scene

On the rise: Price remains unbeaten as he looks to dominate the heavyweight scene

But while the 45-year-old Bedford brawler's age has unsurprisingly raised eyebrows, the former kickboxing champion arguably poses more of a threat than the timid Harrison managed last time out.

'Matt Skelton's a fighter a lot of fighters would prefer to avoid because he's a tough opponent who can make guys look bad,' said Price (14-0, 12KOs).

'He's fit, he's durable and he's a fighter. I think it's a significant fight for me.

'I haven't been getting many rounds under my belt and I think Skelton will be able to take my punches. If he doesn't then he doesn't and it's a confidence boost for me and if he does, then it's good rounds in the bank for me.'

Dave Sexton ex Chelsea manager, has died

Sexton, the coach for all seasons: Former Chelsea boss, who led club to Cup Winners' Cup, dies aged 82

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UPDATED:

22:13 GMT, 25 November 2012

If ever a man could embody the new Chelsea, it was Dave Sexton, who passed away on Sunday aged 82.

Good timing. He left us on the day his beloved Chelsea were locked in combat with Manchester City. Perhaps he would have given that touch of irony, one of his rather straight-laced smiles.

Sexton, whose father, Archie, was a very useful light-middleweight boxer, went to Stamford Bridge as coach to Tommy Docherty in the revolution that swept through Stamford Bridge in the mid-1960s.

Legend: Dave Sexton has died at the age of 82

Legend: Dave Sexton has died at the age of 82

Perfect pro for club and country

As a player, Dave Sexton notched up more than 180 appearances in the 1950s in spells at Luton, West Ham, Leyton Orient, Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace.

He made his name as a manager at Chelsea, leading them to FA Cup glory in 1970 as well as the European Cup-winners' Cup in 1971.

Sexton also managed QPR, Manchester United and Coventry before winning Under 21 European Championships with England in 1982 and 1984.

He was serious, focused and so in
love with football – the straight man to a boss who always tried to see
the light side of life.

The Doc picked the team, Sexton
coached them. And what talent he had at his disposal – Terry Venables,
John Hollins, Peter Osgood, Ron Harris, Peter Bonetti, George Graham.

All worshipped the ground Sexton
walked on, if not always embracing his serious outlook on life and
football. He could never understand why someone as gifted as Ossie would
want to enjoy himself in pubs and bars.

They would often clash – on one
occasion, they squared up to one another in mid-flight to a European tie
when neither would back down after a bitter row.

Respect: Chelsea players observe a minute's applause for former manager Dave Sexton

Respect: Chelsea players observe a minute's applause for former manager Dave Sexton

Remembered: Chelsea pay their respects to former manager Sexton who has passed away

Remembered: Chelsea pay their respects to former manager Sexton who has passed away

Docherty and Sexton laid the
foundations of what Chelsea would become, inventing a club in the image
of the King's Road. Except Sexton abhorred it.

He once ran 200 yards when I went to
watch training to tell me I was not welcome. My offence Being close
enough to Ossie to know the workings of the team and the ways of Dave
Sexton.

Football was his life. It must not
be forgotten that he managed Manchester United and lost his job only
because he was not charismatic enough. He was all about getting it
right.

Standing tall: Sexton (right) with Chelsea at the 1970 FA Cup final replay

Standing tall: Sexton (right) with Chelsea at the 1970 FA Cup final replay

Red rule: Sexton (far right) spent four years at Old Trafford

Red rule: Sexton (far right) spent four years at Old Trafford

His knowledge of the game and his
tactical brilliance impressed Venables, Graham and Hollins, all future
managers. I was in Germany as the England Under 21s won the 1982
European Championship.

Sexton was manager, Venables coach.
At the victory dinner, Sexton spoke of how Venables was the greatest
thing to happen to English football since Sir Alf Ramsey.

Modest as always, he took no credit for his teachings, just grateful someone he had faith in would carry the torch.

Success: Sexton (right, standing) led Chelsea to the FA Cup in 1970

Success: Sexton (right, standing) led Chelsea to the FA Cup in 1970

International man: Sexton was also involved with the England set up

International man: Sexton was also involved with the England set up

When Venables became England manager,
he put Sexton on his backroom staff. The FA said: 'But he is so old'
Venables replied: 'I don't want him to play, just be a part of the
staff.'

In 1996, England reached the European
Championship semi-finals. Venables had laid down a game plan based on
Sexton's input. England have never been so close to glory since.

It was a sickening failure by the
FA not to acknowledge the role that Venables and Sexton, his right-hand
man, had played in giving England back their pride.

High praise: Chelsea fans praise Sexton (above) as he poses with chairman Charles Pratt (below)

High praise: Chelsea fans praise Sexton (above) as he poses with chairman Charles Pratt (below)

New Chelsea manager Dave Sexton stands on the Stamford Bridge terraces with Chairman Charles Pratt

Sexton knew the game. He loved
tactics. He worshipped players who shared his excitement for the
training ground. That clashed with players' love of a night out, secrets
shared with others. That tore at Sexton like a knife.

It was the one fault line in his
personality that stopped him being a true great. Sometimes I would ring
him at home and, when I identified myself, he would pretend he was the
painter or odd job man. He couldn't talk privately.

Dave Sexton got his delights by
preparing teams, coaching them, communicating, making good players
better. That was his life – the rest of us didn't really matter.

New Zealand 22 Ireland 19

New Zealand 22 Ireland 19: Heartbreak for Irish as Carter drop goal earns last-gasp win

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UPDATED:

09:58 GMT, 16 June 2012

A Dan Carter drop goal with 60 seconds left on the clock gave New Zealand a dramatic win over Ireland after a gripping encounter in the second Test in Christchurch.

The Irish led 10-9 at half-time, but an Aaron Smith try just after the break edged the All Blacks ahead.

Jonathan Sexton kept his side in touch with solid goal-kicking but Carter, a proud Crusaders player, had the last word.

Leaving it late: Dan Carter kicks a drop goal to secure victory for New Zealand over Ireland

Leaving it late: Dan Carter kicks a drop goal to secure victory for New Zealand over Ireland

The record books will state that Ireland have now lost 25 out of 26 fixtures against New Zealand. However, with Israel Dagg sin-binned for a bad tackle on Rob Kearney, they never had a better chance to get that much-needed victory.

The selection of scrum-half Conor Murray had been a bone of contention in Ireland between the first and second Tests, but a strong tackle on the marauding Adam Thomson showed his worth early on.

Murray then scrambled well to win possession and Sexton kicked an awarded penalty deep into the New Zealand 22.

Two attacking line-outs followed for the Irish as they set up camp in enemy territory.

Cian Healy and Kevin McLaughlin had darts at the All Black line before Murray picked from the base of a ruck and backed himself to touch down from two metres out.

Sexton added the extras and Ireland hit the front. It was just reward for a brave decision to kick for the line-out rather than go for three points.

Hard at work: Steam rises from a scrum as Ireland take on New Zealand in Christchurch

Hard at work: Steam rises from a scrum as Ireland take on New Zealand in Christchurch

New Zealand, through Conrad Smith and Zac Guildford, pushed forward but Ireland's defence was ferocious. Brian O'Driscoll hacked clear and Sean O'Brien caused trouble inside the All Black half, leading for a penalty concession. Sexton's kick from 35 metres sailed over.

Carter recorded the world champions' first points of the match when referee Nigel Owens suspected the Irish of placing illegal hands in the ruck.

Fergus McFadden was then lucky to survive a high ball spill when Julian Savea, his tormentor from last week, knocked on.

Sean O'Brien let Carter know he was around after 26 minutes when he clattered into him moments after the out-half spun a pass left.

The Crusaders man was not badly shaken and made it 10-6 three minutes later after Dan Tuohy was penalised for not rolling away from a tackle on Richie McCaw.

Irish loosehead Mike Ross was the next guilty man at the ruck as he needlessly entered from the side.

It gifted Carter a third simple penalty and his kick sneaked in by the left-hand post.

Not enough: Connor Murray goes over to score a try for Ireland in New Zealand

Not enough: Connor Murray goes over to score a try for Ireland in New Zealand

The All Blacks fancied getting in ahead at half-time, but excellent work at the breakdown by O'Brien won his side a penalty and gave the Irish an attacking line-out.

Sexton chipped possession, however, away and Carter was given the chance to put his team ahead on the stroke of half-time. McFadden was penalised for going off his feet at an attacking ruck, but Carter's kick from the halfway line dropped short and the score remained 10-9.

The All Blacks thundered into the Irish as the second half got under way and O'Driscoll was guilty of missing a tackle on Sonny Bill Williams on the right wing. A ruck ensued but Smith dived through a huddle of bodies for his first international try.

Carter added the conversion, but Ireland were awarded a penalty less than 60 seconds later as Thomson was adjudged offside. Sexton had the simple task of slotting a 20-metre penalty over.

McCaw was then lucky not to receive a yellow card after a short, destructive burst from the captain left O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy on the turf.

D'Arcy limped off soon after, to be replaced by Ronan O'Gara, and Sexton moved to inside centre.

The Leinster man peeled around the back of an attacking Irish ruck after 56 minutes, but he could not offload in the tackle to the supporting O'Driscoll and New Zealand turned the ball over to clear.

Out of my way: Sonny Bill Williams of the All Blacks tramples over Sean O'Brien of Ireland

Out of my way: Sonny Bill Williams of the All Blacks tramples over Sean O'Brien of Ireland

The burden of expectation of the home side was apparent as the game neared its final quarter when Carter was jeered for trying, and failing, with a drop goal.

He redeemed himself moments later with a penalty from 22 metres out after Owens penalised the visitors for not rolling away near their line.

Ireland were not deterred and they hit back immediately with a great forward shunt on the scrum to earn another kick at goal for Sexton, which he landed.

O'Driscoll got a measure of revenge on 67 minutes as he ghosted past Sonny Bill Williams.

The daring Irish attack was rewarded as Ali Williams came in from the side to gift the visitors a penalty

He then made Sexton's kick 10 metres easier after shoving O'Brien in the face. The Irish number 10 made it 19-19 with 11 minutes left on the clock.

Stop where you are: New Zealand's Dan Carter, with the ball, is tackled by Ireland's Sean O'Brien

Stop where you are: New Zealand's Dan Carter, with the ball, is tackled by Ireland's Sean O'Brien

The advantage swung to the men in green two minutes later as Dagg was yellow carded for a late, head-high hit on Kearney.

Sexton's penalty attempt from the halfway line dropped short, but the man advantage offered Ireland their best ever chance to break New Zealand's winning run.

A harshly adjudged knock-on call against Mike Ross gave the home side the chance to clear. The All Blacks were not content with getting a draw and they piled forward to give Carter a chance to kick a drop goal to clinch the game.

Carter's first effort was wide after he received a poor snap-pass, but the All Blacks remained composed. Their scrum was solid and Weepu dashed the ball back for Carter to try again.

The kick hardly soared, but it was enough to break Ireland hearts.

Dan Carter ready for Ireland backlash

Carter ready for Irish backlash as All Blacks prepare for second Test

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UPDATED:

17:30 GMT, 13 June 2012

Star man: Carter was instrumental in the first Test

Star man: Carter was instrumental in the first Test

New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter is expecting a 'ferocious' response from Ireland on Saturday after the tourists were comprehensively beaten in the first Test.

Carter was in majestic form in the 42-10 win in Auckland last weekend and slotted seven from eight kicks, including two successful efforts from the halfway line.

He also sent Julian Savea scampering free for the first of three debut tries and was denied one of his own in the dying seconds as Rob Kearney made a last-ditch tackle.

The Crusaders No 10 admits it will be 'an emotional experience' playing a Test match in Christchurch for the first time since devastating earthquakes hit the region in early 2011 but knows Ireland will be eager to spoil the All Blacks' return.

'Every time you come up against the Irish you never take them as an easy opponent,' he said.

'They are always extremely ferocious, they get stuck in and are a dangerous side to play against.

Three and easy: Julian Savea scored three tries on debut for the All Blacks

Three and easy: Julian Savea scored three tries on debut for the All Blacks

'This season has put Irish rugby in really good stead with a couple of Irish teams (Leinster and Ulster) stepping out at the Heineken Cup final. Irish rugby is on a high at the moment and deservedly so.

'I'm sure it will be a huge battle.'

Carter comfortably outperformed his opposite number Jonathan Sexton at Eden Park but retains huge respect for the Leinster man.

'Sexton is a great kicker of the ball but he has a lot of attacking flair as well,' added Carter.

'He can take the ball to the line. As a team playing against that, you have to be wary of 10s that like to run the ball. It's a great strength to his game.'

Dangerman: Carter is wary of Sexton's talents

Dangerman: Carter is wary of Sexton's talents

The All Blacks will be without the services of Victor Vito for the remainder of the three-match series after he sustained a knee injury. The Hurricanes flanker will be out of action for an estimated five weeks.

Regardless of the Irish challenge, Carter is simply delighted to be back playing international rugby.

He memorably saw his World Cup dream cut short by a groin injury last year and subsequently spent five months away from the game as he recovered, while his team-mates lifted the trophy on home soil.

Reflecting on his return to the top level, he said: 'In the last three weeks the body has felt really good and back to full fitness, which is pleasing.

'In the back of my mind this is where I always wanted to be; playing for the All Blacks and putting that black jersey on.'

Back in action: Carter was cruelly ruled out of the World Cup

Back in action: Carter was cruelly ruled out of the World Cup

The continual practising penalty kicks contributed to Carter's groin injury but he is adamant he never considered returning to the side as an out-half without kicking duties.

'It is what I do and love,' said Carter.

'Playing in the number 10 jersey and kicking goals. I've been pain free for the past few games. It is a big part of my game so it is great to have that ability back.'

Both squads have now arrived in Christchurch after Ireland touched down earlier today and the weather is noticeably colder.

Carter is content to play in any climate but has been reminded of the 2008 Test against Ireland at Wellington in 2008, where the hosts took a hard-won 21-11 victory in testing conditions.

'That was a freezing cold, freezing cold game,' said Carter.

'I've never been so cold in my whole life. That was a really close game. It could have gone either way.'

David Price beats Sam Sexton

The Price is right! Deadly David promises bigger things after demolishing Sexton

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UPDATED:

07:18 GMT, 20 May 2012

David Price claimed the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles with a comprehensive victory over Sam Sexton by technical knockout in Liverpool.

The referee called a halt to proceedings in the fourth round of a one-sided clash when Sexton, who did not look in the same class as his opponent, was sent crashing to the canvas.

Price, 28, told Sky Sports 1: 'It's everything I've worked towards since I turned professional. This was the first target, that's done. Now we can move on.'

Crowned: David Price celebrates with his British and Commonwealth titles

Crowned: David Price celebrates with his British and Commonwealth titles

Sexton, 27, had already been sent sprawling in the third as Price unveiled his impressive jab.

'I felt like I boxed the perfect fight,' Price said. 'I don't think Sam Sexton laid a glove on me. I knew when I started getting through I'd hurt him.'

Asked what was next, Price said: 'I'm ready to move on and challenge the best out there.

Crushing: Price delivers another blow to Sam Sexton in Liverpool

Crushing: Price delivers another blow to Sam Sexton in Liverpool

'I've got to take my time, but making a statement like that, I'm going to have to move forward again.'

Price predicted he would go on to become world champion.

'I believe that is my destiny,' he said. 'I'm doing everything right. 'I'm just going to keep working in the gym. I'm not the finished article yet but I will get there.'

Down and out: Sexton was knocked out in the fourth round by Price

Down and out: Sexton was knocked out in the fourth round by Price

Promoter Frank Maloney added: 'What we saw tonight was a perfect performance – 10 out of 10. That's the best jab I've seen since Lennox Lewis.

'We've now got someone who I believe will bring the heavyweight world title back to Britain.'

The Price is right! Deadly David promises bigger things after demolishing Sam Sexton

The Price is right! Deadly David promises bigger things after demolishing Sam Sexton

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UPDATED:

23:35 GMT, 19 May 2012

David Price claimed the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles with a comprehensive victory over Sam Sexton by technical knockout in Liverpool.

The referee called a halt to proceedings in the fourth round of a one-sided clash when Sexton, who did not look in the same class as his opponent, was sent crashing to the canvas.

Price, 28, told Sky Sports 1: 'It's everything I've worked towards since I turned professional. This was the first target, that's done. Now we can move on.'

Onwards and upwards: David Price's victory take him a step closer to a world title fight

Onwards and upwards: David Price's victory take him a step closer to a world title fight

Sexton, 27, had already been sent sprawling in the third as Price unveiled his impressive jab.

'I felt like I boxed the perfect fight,' Price said. 'I don't think Sam Sexton laid a glove on me. I knew when I started getting through I'd hurt him.'

Asked what was next, Price said: 'I'm ready to move on and challenge the best out there.

'I've got to take my time, but making a statement like that, I'm going to have to move forward again.'

Price predicted he would go on to become world champion.

'I believe that is my destiny,' he said. 'I'm doing everything right. 'I'm just going to keep working in the gym. I'm not the finished article yet but I will get there.'

Promoter Frank Maloney added: 'What we saw tonight was a perfect performance – 10 out of 10. That's the best jab I've seen since Lennox Lewis.

'We've now got someone who I believe will bring the heavyweight world title back to Britain.'

Clermont Auvergne 15 Leinster 19: Holders make Heineken Cup final all-Irish affair

Clermont Auvergne 15 Leinster 19: Holders make Heineken final an all-Irish affair

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UPDATED:

16:51 GMT, 29 April 2012

Defending champions Leinster set up an all-Irish Heineken Cup final after surviving a late onslaught from Clermont Auvergne during which Wesley Fofana dramatically had a try ruled out for the French side.

Joe Schmidt's side started the game well but with their lineout malfunctioning, four penalties from Brock James saw the French challengers lead 12-6 at half-time.

Yet Leinster got the perfect start to the second half when Brian O'Driscoll and Rob Kearney combined to set up Cian Healy for a 42nd-minute try.

Final hurdle: Leinster players celebrate their progress

Final hurdle: Leinster players celebrate their progress

A stunning Kearney drop goal extended Leinster's lead before James replied. Jonathan Sexton's third penalty put Leinster 19-15 in front before Clermont centre Fofana was inches away from scoring the match-winning try.

This pulsating semi-final finished with Clermont pounding the Leinster line but the Irish side showed immense resilience to hold on and set up a meeting with Ulster at Twickenham on May 19.

After a typically frenetic opening, Leinster struck first in the eighth minute. Some quick offloading got Leinster into the Clermont 22 for the first time and the hosts were punished for offside as the onrushing Isa Nacewa accepted a pass out wide from Sexton. The fly-half slotted the penalty over to give the province the early advantage.

Some ferocious work by Leinster was resulting in turnover ball and Clermont suffered another blow when winger Julien Malzieu was forced off through injury after 13 minutes.

Familiar: Leinster will face Ulster in the final

Familiar: Leinster will face Ulster in the final

There was a superb atmosphere in the
Stade Chaban-Delmas, although the Irish support was vastly outnumbered
in the near 33,000 crowd. But competing in their fourth successive
semi-final, Leinster's experience was showing in the early stages.

More quick hands from the Leinster back-line led to another break for Nacewa that had Clermont scrambling to clear from behind their own posts.

But Clermont's defence held firm and James took the chance to tie things up at 3-3 from a penalty.

That lifted the 2010 French champions and only a fantastic intervention by Luke Fitzgerald denied full-back Lee /04/29/article-2136962-12D54780000005DC-12_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Well done: Leinster's Fergus McFadden (right), and Rob Kearney get the celebrations underway” class=”blkBorder” />

Well done: Leinster's Fergus McFadden (right), and Rob Kearney get the celebrations underway

The interval clearly came at a good time for the defending champions though as they responded just after the restart with the opening try.

With their lineout working for once, O'Driscoll and Kearney punched a hole through the Clermont defence to give Healy an easy run-in. Sexton converted and Leinster were a point ahead.

Four minutes later they went 16-12 in front when the increasingly influential Kearney produced a stunning drop goal from over 45 metres out.

James then missed a drop goal and a penalty in quick succession before another penalty from the Australian made it 16-15 after 52 minutes.

Both sides emptied their benches in an attempt to force a decisive shift in momentum and O'Driscoll almost delivered it after finding space to feed Kearney.

Although Leinster were held up a few metres out, Clermont had infringed and Sexton kicked over from a tricky angle outside the 22 to make it 19-15 with 17 minutes left.

Stunner: Kearney scored a brilliant drop goal

Stunner: Kearney scored a brilliant drop goal

Leinster appeared to be getting stronger as the game went on but after Sexton missed another penalty attempt there was to be a further twist as Clermont's forwards pushed for a winning try.

Fofana appeared to have got it with seconds remaining but after television match official Geoff Warren reviewed the footage, the try was ruled out for a knock on. The French international fumbled the ball forward under pressure from Gordon D'Arcy's last-ditch tackle.

Clermont had another five-metre scrum before the end but Leinster, backing their spirited defence, somehow escaped to move a step closer to back-to-back European titles and their third success in four years.

Ireland 32 Scotland 14: Jones injury compounds Robinson"s misery

Ireland 32 Scotland 14: Jones injury compounds Robinson's misery

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UPDATED:

19:23 GMT, 10 March 2012

Ireland inflicted a sixth successive
Test defeat on Scotland as the Celtic rivals served-up a five-try RBS 6
Nations thriller at the Aviva Stadium.

It was an all-too familiar scenario
for the Scots, who contributed fully to a high-octane match that gripped
a sell-out crowd but will have infuriated under-pressure coach Andy
Robinson.

Andrew Trimble of Ireland scores a try

Try time: Andrew Trimble of Ireland goes over

Robinson has now presided over two wins in 14 Six Nations games and a wooden spoon decider against Italy beckons in Rome next weekend.

Adding to Scotland's woes was the second-half departure of winger Lee Jones following a sickening clash of heads with opposite number Andrew Trimble.

The incident occurred during the 62nd minute when Ireland scrambled furiously inside their own 22, with Jones collapsing instantly from the collision before being stretchered off.

Scotland could only marvel at the clinical finishing displayed by Ireland, whose status as the championship's most dangerous side was safeguarded by another four-try haul.

Captain Rory Best scores a try

Touch down: Captain Rory Best scores a try

Assisted by some erratic defending,
Rory Best, Eoin Reddan, Andrew Trimble and Fergus McFadden crossed while
Jonathan Sexton kicked 12 points.

The opening try by Best, leading
Ireland in the injury-enforced absence of Paul O'Connell, was
particularly well-received and topped another tremendous afternoon for
the Ulster hooker.

Openside Peter O'Mahony enjoyed a
bright full debut, flanker Stephen Ferris produced a typically ferocious
shift in defence, Rob Kearney excelled once more at full-back and Keith
Earls showed flashes of brilliance at outside centre.

Scotland lock Richie Gray powers through the Ireland defence on his way to score

On the charge: Scotland lock Richie Gray powers through to score

Ireland – who were starting a Six
Nations game without either of their Lions captains, O'Connell or Brian
O'Driscoll, for the first time since 2001 – had seen their title hopes
fade with Sunday's draw with France, but have now registered
back-to-back wins at the Aviva Stadium for the first time.

The Scots will require more heroics
from lock Richie Gray and number eight David Denton, who were
magnificent today, if they are to dispatch Italy.

A high-quality try from Gray in the
37th minute inspired hope in the visitors, while three penalties from
fly-half Greig Laidlaw kept them in the hunt until Ireland pulled clear
in the final quarter.

Hold up: Cian Healey of Ireland is tackled by Richie Gray of Scotland

Hold up: Cian Healey of Ireland is tackled by Richie Gray of Scotland

Scotland showed no distress from the
loss of Nick De Luca to a hamstring injury during the warm-up – Max
Evans moved into the starting XV – during a lively start.

Released by a quickly-taken
free-kick, they probed down the left wing before winning a penalty that
Laidlaw sent between the uprights.

Gray and David Denton made robust
carries as Scotland swept from one 22 to another and once more Laidlaw
was on target to ensure their endeavour was rewarded.

John Barclay of Scotland is tackled by Keith Earls of Ireland

John Barclay of Scotland is tackled by Keith Earls of Ireland

A perfectly executed set move at an
attacking line-out enabled Ireland to take the lead, however, with man
of the match Donnacha Ryan taking and supplying O'Mahony.

O'Mahony switched back to the
blindside and fed Best, who flattened scrum-half Mike Blair and touched
down for a try converted by Sexton.

Ireland had opted for the line-out
instead of Sexton taking a shot at goal, but in the 26th minute the
Leinster fly-half chose the three points.

Once the omnipresent Best had dealt
with a chip ahead that Sean Lamont was in danger of reaching and
Scotland had launched a fruitless assault on the whitewash, Laidlaw
landed his third penalty.

Lee Jones of Scotland is knocked out in a tackle against Andrew Trimble

Lee Jones of Scotland is knocked out in a tackle against Andrew Trimble

Lee Jones of Scotland is knocked out

Ireland's response was their second
try, though there was an element of luck involved as Reddan, having
failed to distribute the ball from a ruck, was suddenly offered a sight
of the line.

Wriggling through tackles from Denton, Blair and Lamont, he scrambled over from five yards out and Sexton converted.

An action-packed game continued to
excite when Gray displayed tremendous skills to touch down, shrugging
off Bowe and Reddan before dummying Kearney to gallop over.

On the stroke of half-time Ireland
almost squandered a glorious chance when Kearney went alone instead of
using Trimble, but the ball was still recycled and the Ulster winger was
in.

The irrepressible Denton continued to
scatter Irish tacklers early in the second half, but the home side then
exploded into life.

Lightning acceleration from Keith
Earls started a passage of play that ended with Bowe being held up over
the line by Evans' try-saving tackle.

Scotland dominated possession in the
third quarter but were foiled by outstanding Irish defence and as the
match entered the final 10 minutes there was a sense their chance had
gone.

Yet Ireland still needed another
score to calm their nerves and it was delivered by Sexton, who slotted a
difficult penalty from a tight angle to secure a nine-point cushion.

Any lingering doubt over the result
was dispelled four minutes before time when McFadden touched down with
Ireland capitalising on the absence of Evans, who had been sin-binned
for a cynical tug on Earls as the centre raced for the line.

SIX NATIONS 2012: Jonathan Sexton fit for Ireland

Sexton declares himself fit to face Italy as Ireland return to action in Dublin

Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton has removed any injury doubts ahead of Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy in Dublin.

The Leinster favourite tweaked a thigh muscle in kicking practice during the build-up to the postponed France game in Paris and sat out training a couple of days later.

Fly-half rival Ronan O'Gara was put on standby to start, with Paddy Wallace called into the squad as cover, but Sexton insists he would have played against the French had the match not fallen victim to a frozen pitch and is raring to go on Saturday.

Raring to go: Jonathan Sexton is fit to face Italy with Ireland

Raring to go: Jonathan Sexton is fit to face Italy with Ireland

'I was fit to play over in Paris,' he told a news conference in Dublin. 'I just had a slight niggle a couple of days beforehand but it was fine.

'I've recovered enough. I had weights this morning, but I'll be training this afternoon.'

Sexton says the postponement of their second match frustrated the Irish players in their attempt to bounce back from the disappointment of their last-gasp 23-21 defeat by Wales, but believes the extra lay-off may pay dividends in the long run.

'It was a weird week,' he said. 'We came in for a one-day camp last week and the lads are excited about getting back playing now.

Blow: Ireland's clash with France was called off just before kick-off

Blow: Ireland's clash with France was called off just before kick-off

'We've had a bit of a break since the Wales game and to have that hanging over you for an extra week is not the nicest feeling.

'We worked hard in training and tried to simulate a game as much as we could last week. The more you play, the better you play but at the same time being fresh is key as well. I think you can take the positives out of both.'

Sexton is expecting to come up against Treviso half-back Kris Burton for the second week and says the Australia-born player will be a major threat after causing England problems in Rome.

'I thought he was going okay,' he said. 'They obviously took him off against England it probably cost them.

Tears: Ireland fans react to the news that their match with France is off

Tears: Ireland fans react to the news that their match with France is off

'We played against him (for Leinster) in Treviso and he's a good player and a threat. We'll have to keep our discipline, keep him out of drop-goal range and put a lot of pressure on him when he does go for those drop goals.'

The Italians will be without experienced prop Martin Castrogiovanni after he broke a rib in his side's 19-15 loss to England, but Sexton insists the visitors will be no pushovers.

'Their strength is up front,' he added. 'They might be missing Castrogiovanni, which is a big loss for any side, but they've got strength in depth in that area, and they've got some backs playing in the Top 14.'