Rugby

Munster book semis spot

2014-04-05 17:13
Paul O'Connell (AFP)

Paris - Munster outplayed four-time champions Toulouse 47-23 to move into the European Cup semi-finals in impressive style on Saturday.

The Irish province, themselves former two-time title holders of the continent's elite club tournament in 2006 and 2008, will play the winners of the Toulon v Leinster quarter-final scheduled for Sunday.

"It was one of those days where everything came off for us," Munster lock Paul O'Connell said of the six-try-to-two victory.

"We had a great start, and were disciplined for the rest of the game.

"It was a brilliant performance by everyone and the bench."

A breathless start by Munster at Limerick's Thomond park was rewarded in the fifth minute.

After more than 20 phases in the French 22m area, fly-half Ian Keatley and Simon Zebo moved the ball right to Keith Earls, the winger crossing in the corner for a try Keatley converted.

Former All Black Luke McAlister responded with a penalty after a Munster infringement at the restart.

Keatley restored the lead with his first penalty after 16 minutes, but Munster were then dealt a blow when captain Peter O'Mahoney went off injured.

McAlister was on target with two penalties to bring the visitors to within four points, but Munster's second try came just minutes into the second half, loosehead prop Dave Kilcoyne grounding after a well-worked driving maul, Keatley kicking the extras.

Yohan Huget and Maxime Medard went close in reply, but the home side's dominant forward display again shone through, outstanding replacement CJ Stander driving over from close range after scrum-half Connor Murray again set up the crucial platform on the line.

Keatley converted and suddenly it was 27-9 after 47 minutes, Yohan Montes and try-scorer Kilcoyne sin-binned after one collapsed scrum too many for Welsh referee Nigel Owens.

Completely against the run of play, Toulouse hit back with a well-finished try by ex-All Black winger Hosea Gear after replacement prop Cyril Baille spotted a gap, replacement Lionel Beauxis snagging the conversion.

Keatley notched up another penalty, and then Casey Laulala drove the nail in the coffin after Beauxis' disastrous attempt at a quick 22m drop-out backfired.

Toulouse's Samoan flanker Joe Tekori powered over for a try converted by Beauxis with 10 mintues remaining.

But any thought of an improbable comeback was quashed when first Zebo crashed over in the corner after another Stander turnover in midfield, and then O'Connell scored after the hooter, Keatley having the final word.

Saturday's other quarter-finals see Clermont host Leicester, with the winner of that tie to play the victor of Ulster v Saracens.

Read more on:    paul o'connell  |  rugby
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