Planet Rugby

Munster conquer the Stoop

07th April 2013 15:45

Share:

Paul O Connell celebrating Munster winning

A rock: Paul O'Connell

Munster will travel to France to face Clermont in the Heineken Cup semis after battling past Harlequins 18-12.

Like Saracens on Saturday, this was a result built on gritty defence and big hearts as their second-half showing saw the English have no answer.

Munster will head to the 32,000-capacity Stade de la Mosson in the Languedoc region on April 27.

The contest was played on a firm surface but that did not create an attack-minded first period as both Quins and Munster struggled to threaten.

Conor O'Shea's charges did, however, start the stronger when from the outset Ugo Monye jumped to collect fly-half Nick Evans' kick-off from Paul O'Connell's grasp. That effort led to improving inside centre Tom Casson grubbering to the corner and Munster wing Denis Hurley seemingly looking to have slapped the ball out into touch. Referee Jerome Garces and his assistant failed to spot this act but soon after Quins were on the board when Evans converted a scrum penalty.

Ronan O'Gara, who made his Heineken Cup debut against the likes of Harlequins old boys Will Carling and Thierry Lacroix, missed his first shot at goal, hitting the upright immediately after playmaker Evans had opened matters. Meanwhile, fellow veteran O'Connell was playing like a man possessed at the Stoop.

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland was watching at the venue and would have taken note of O'Connell and Peter O'Mahony's showings. But despite individual efforts, the Irish were 0-6 down when Evans slotted on nineteen minutes after the tackler failed to roll away. Things were made worse when O'Gara missed off the tee again soon after.

Munster though were beginning to take a stranglehold on the game - a trend that kicked into life in the second 40 - and when Casey Laulala made good metres on 25 minutes, a penalty soon arrived for O'Gara that he converted. As was expected, scoring chances were limited.

3-6 became 6-9 when first a scrum penalty - an area Garces adjudged Quins to be in the ascendancy early on - saw Evans knock over three before O'Gara replied after O'Connell's break saw a Harlequin fail to release in contact. That was ultimately the half-time score.

Munster emerged following the turnaround in scintillating form and bettered Quins in all facets, particularly their intensity, as they set off on a purple patch that saw O'Gara knock over three successive penalty attempts to make it 18-9 as the hour mark approached.

Evans did cut the gap to just one score when he landed a penalty on 65 minutes, which set up a grandstand finish, but Munster's determination to silence their recent critics shone through as they held on. O'Connell's emotional words at full-time showed what it meant.

The scorers:

For Harlequins:
Pen: Evans 4

For Munster:
Pen: O'Gara 6

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Matt Hopper.

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Denis Hurley, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell (c), 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 David Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Paddy Butler, 21 Cathal Sheridan, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Ivan Dineen.

Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Neil Paterson (Scotland), Laurent Cardona (France)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins vs Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Preview
Saturday , November 22
Exeter vs Wasps15:00
London Irish vs Bath15:00
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs Northampton13:00
London Welsh vs Leicester Tigers15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 22
Italy vs South Africa15:00
Scotland vs Tonga14:30
Ireland vs Australia16:30
Wales vs New Zealand17:30
England vs Samoa19:00
France vs Argentina21:00
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 21
Dragons vs MunsterDragons vs Munster Preview
Scarlets vs Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Preview
Connacht vs ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Preview
Ulster vs OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs Leinster14:30
Edinburgh vs Cardiff Blues16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
Tonga 40 - 12 USATonga vs USA Report
Wales 17 - 13 FijiWales vs Fiji Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 14
Gloucester 15 - 22 HarlequinsGloucester vs Harlequins Report
Northampton 18 - 24 ExeterNorthampton vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 18 - 20 ArgentinaItaly vs Argentina Report
Canada 13 - 23 SamoaCanada vs Samoa Report
More International Match results
LV= Cup
Cardiff Blues 19 - 13 Scarlets
Ospreys 35 - 51 DragonsOspreys vs Dragons Report
Sunday , November 9
Wasps 43 - 22 London Irish
London Welsh 9 - 18 Gloucester
Leicester 29 - 13 Sale SharksLeicester vs Sale Sharks Report
More LV= Cup results
International Match
Saturday , November 8
Italy 24 - 13 SamoaItaly vs Samoa Report
Wales 28 - 33 AustraliaWales vs Australia Report
England 21 - 24 New ZealandEngland vs New Zealand Report
Georgia 9 - 23 TongaGeorgia vs Tonga Report
Ireland 29 - 15 South AfricaIreland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton726
2Exeter724
3Bath724
4Saracens724
5Wasps720