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Munster book quarter-final berth

11th January 2014 19:56

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Keith Earls of Munster Heineken Cup v Gloucester

Try for Munster: Keith Earls

Munster secured top spot in Heineken Cup Pool 6 on Saturday thanks to a 20-7 victory over Gloucester at Kingsholm.

The result leaves Munster six points clear of Edinburgh, who failed to get a try bonus point against Perpignan at Murrayfield, meaning the Irish side are assured of a place in the quarter-finals.

Munster led from start to finish and, although the scores were close for most of the match, they never realistically looked like losing.

With Paul O'Connell the standout performer in a dominant pack, the former champions simply outmuscled their out-of-form hosts.

The sides scored a try-a-piece in the first half with Munster leading 10-7 at the break thanks to a Keith Earls try while Gloucester's reply came via Charlie Sharples.

A try from Munster flank Peter O'Mahony on the hour mark proved the fatal blow as the Cherry and Whites were unable to unlock the visitors' defence in the second half.

Nigel Davies' side continued to press throughout the second stanza, regularly making incursions into the opposition half. But befitting of a team that has lifted the Heineken Cup twice, Munster were typically clinical with their first foray into the Gloucester 22 as O'Mahony's score ended any doubts over the result.

An uninspiring first quarter came to an end with Ian Keatley opening the scoring from the kicking tee after a collapsed maul.

Munster were first to cross the whitewash as the game burst into life on the half-hour mark when Earls collected Keatley's neat grubber down the touchline to round off a patient build-up from the visitors.

The Munster fly-half's conversion took the scores to 10-0 and the Kingsholm faithful would have been forgiven for getting sinking feeling that has become all too familiar this season.

Sharples provided the perfect response however, showing fast feet to score a blistering try just before the interval.

Freddie Burns added the extras to leave the gap at just three points as the teams swapped ends.

As was the case in the first period, it took the second half 20-odd minutes to produce points but O'Mahony's try off the back of an advancing Munster scrum was significant as it allowed Keatley to give the Irish team a 10-point lead with the conversion.

Keatley added one more penalty with 10 minutes remaining to secure victory and inflict Gloucester's seventh home defeat this season.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:
Try: Sharples
Con: Burns

For Munster:
Tries: Earls, O'Mahony
Cons: Keatley 2
Pens: Keatley 2

Gloucester: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Jonny May, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Matt Cox, 5 James Hudson, 4 Elliot Stooke, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Darren Dawiduik, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Tom Hicks, 20 Sione Kalafamoni, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Rob Cook, 23 Ben Morgan

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Peter O'Mahony (c), 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Dave Foley, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 James Cronin, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Simon Zebo.

Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wal)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris, Wayne Davies (both Wal)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wal)

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