Toulon eliminate Munster

16th Jan 2011, 21:49

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Killer finisher: Paul Sackey

Killer finisher: Paul Sackey

Two-time European Cup champions Munster were dumped out of the competition on Sunday as they succumbed 32-16 to Toulon.

Two-time European Cup champions Munster were dumped out of the competition on Sunday as they succumbed 32-16 to Toulon.

It's the first time in thirteen seasons that Munster have failed to make it to the quarter-finals but few will deny that they were outplayed by their 'French' hosts at Stade Felix Mayol.

In front of their boisterous partisan crowd, Toulon outscored their visitors two tries to one while Jonny Wilkinson contributed 22 points with his boot.

The result, with London Irish's victory over Ospreys, means that Toulon have qualified for the quarter-finals for the first time in their history with one round still to play.

It was dismal day for Munster who failed to match the intensity of the Toulon's multi-national armada - especially the home side's back row.


It started well-enough for the Irish Province, who were on the scoreboard inside three minutes as Ronan O'Gara opened his account from the kicking-tee.

However, by the end of the first quarter Wilkinson had replied, with interest, bouncing his second penalty off the upright and sending his third straight down the middle to give RCT a 9-3 lead.

Toulon's first try wasn't long in coming as scrum-half Pierre Mignoni sent a pin-point accurate kick into the corner and wing Christian Loamanu used his bulk to rise highest and muscle through three defenders to score.

Munster were struggling and were put into further trouble when lock Donncha O'Callaghan was sent to the sin bin for a silly high tackle.

The hosts made their extra man count as Mignoni stepped his way into space. Joe van Niekerk almost ruined a golden opportunity with a sloppy pass but Paul Sackey did brilliantly to shrug off Keith Earls and score.

O'Gara slotted a penalty for the visitors on the stroke of half time but at 26-9 down, it wasn't looking good for the red army.

The 20-point lead was restored almost immediately after the restart, although the video referee was needed to confirm that Wilkinson's kick was good.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when some handbag swinging between Mignoni and O'Gara degenerated into a wider conflict. The match officials - somewhat harshly - decided to pin the blame on the Munster fly-half, who was shown a yellow card.

O'Gara returned just in time to see Wilkinson add three more points.

The television official has a busy night as he denied Munster wing Doug Howlett and Toulon replacement prop Saimone Taumoepeau tries - both players just grazing the touchline in the act of going over.

Munster added the last points of the evening when David Wallace barged his way over in the dying minutes but the horse had already bolted.

All credit to Toulon, who deserved victory and their historic qualification into the play-offs.

Man of the match: A mention must go to the Toulon loose trio of Joe van Niekerk, George Smith and Juan Fernandez Lobbe but we'll go for veteran scrum-half Pierre Mignoni, who is playing his last season but still had the class to create both tries for les Rouge et Noires.

The scorers:

For Toulon:
Tries: Loamanu, Sackey
Cons: Wilkinson 2
Pens: Wilkinson 6

For Munster:
Try: Wallace
Con: O'Gara
Pens: O'Gara 3

Yellow cards: O'Callaghan (Munster - 33rd min - high tackle); O'Gara (Munster - 49th min -fighting); Kubriashvili (Toulon - 65th min - killing ball)

Toulon: 15 Rudi Wulf, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Gabi Lovobalavu, 12 Felipe Contepomi, 11 Christian Loamanu, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Pierre Mignoni, 8 Joe van Niekerk (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 2 Sebastien Bruno, 1 Laurent Emmanuelli.
Replacements:16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Saimone Taumoepeau, 18 Mehdi Merabet, 19. Joe El Abd, 20. Fotu Auelua, 21 Rory Lamont, 22 Laurent Magnaval, 23 Kris Chesney.

Munster: 15 Paul Warwick, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Denis Leamy (c), 7 David Wallace, 6 James Coughlan, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 John Hayes, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Darragh Hurley, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Mick O'Driscoll, 20 Donnacha Ryan, 21 Niall Ronan, 22 Tomas O'Leary, 23 Lifeimi Mafi.

Venue: Stade Félix Mayol, Toulon
Referee: Dave Pearson