Dra­matic endgame fires Mun­ster into Euro semis

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - FRONT PAGE - BREN­DAN FAN­NING

Mun­ster 20 Toulon 19

MUN­STER added a dra­matic late para­graph to a chang­ing script at a packed Thomond Park yes­ter­day to se­cure a place in the semi-fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons Cup. They will be away to the win­ners of this af­ter­noon’s tie be­tween Cler­mont and Rac­ing.

Le­in­ster may join them in the fi­nal four, on the other side of the draw, de­pend­ing on the out­come of events at the Aviva to­day. Le­in­ster have the added in­cen­tive — cour­tesy of Scar­lets beat­ing La Rochelle on Fri­day night — of a home draw if they can get past Sara­cens.

Con­nacht’s bid for a place in the last four of the Chal­lenge Cup came up short in the Sports­ground ear­lier yes­ter­day when they left it too late against Glouces­ter. That ends their chances of qual­i­fy­ing for the Cham­pi­ons Cup via the sec­ond tier tour­na­ment, and given their Guin­ness PRO14 is­sues their sea­son is ef­fec­tively over.

For Mun­ster how­ever it’s very much alive on both fronts. It didn’t look that way in the fi­nal quar­ter when they went from 13-9 ahead to 13-19 be­hind in the space of eight min­utes. They also sur­vived a try chance squan­dered on the line by Toulon winger Semi Radradra.

But a fab­u­lous in­di­vid­ual ef­fort by An­drew Con­way saved Mun­ster. He did re­ally well to field a touch kick by Toulon re­place­ment Fran­cois Trinh-Duc and to run it back through a maze of de­fend­ers to score. Ian Keat­ley added the points to put Mun­ster ahead and they hung on to that lead de­spite in­tense pres­sure.

“When a lot of peo­ple be­lieve it’s in­cred­i­ble what hu­man be­ings can do,” coach Jo­hann van Graan said af­ter­wards. “It’s in­cred­i­ble what we did to­day. I could men­tion ev­ery guy who took the field. They re­ally put their bod­ies on the line. Mun­ster magic came through to­day.

“There were a lot of ebbs and swings in that game but we fought our way back into it. I think grat­i­tude is the main word. It’s an hon­our to coach this team. If you’ve got 23 guys who be­lieve and a man­age­ment team who be­lieve and a club who be­lieves then things can come through.”

Cap­tain Pe­ter O’Ma­hony, the man of the match, cred­ited the de­fence of Mun­ster’s backs against a phys­i­cally big­ger and more ex­pe­ri­enced out­fit. And Mun­ster had to cope with the loss of Si­mon Zebo. Along with Con­way his par­tic­i­pa­tion was in doubt for much of the week but he was in­jured in the open­ing phase be­fore hob­bling off be­fore half-time.

An­drew Con­way scores the de­ci­sive late try in Thomond Park yes­ter­day. Photo: Diar­muid Greene

Ian Keat­ley added the cru­cial con­ver­sion late on

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.