Six try Munster down Toulouse to book Semi-final

Munster booked a place in the Heineken Cup semi-finals when they beat Toulouse 47-23 at Thomond Park 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.

Final Score Munster 47 (13) Toulouse 23 (9)

Scorers

Munster
Tries: Earls, Kilcoyne, Stander, Laulala, Zebo, O’Connell
Con: Keatley 4
Pen: Keatley 3

Toulouse
Tries: Gear, Tekori
Con: Beauxis 2
Pen: McAlister 3

Match Officials
Referee:
Nigel Owens (Wales),
Assistant ref: JP Doyle (England),
Assistant ref: Neil Hennessy (Wales),
TMO: Derek Bevan (Wales),
Citing Commissioner: Alan Mansell (England)

Teams

Munster Rugby:

Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley, BJ Botha, Dave Foley, Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony (c), Tommy O’Donnell

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