Munster overwhelmed Ospreys 43-9 to set up an all-Irish European Cup semi-final clash against Leinster, captained by Brian O'Driscoll (photo), who edged England's Harlequins 6-5. The Cardiff Blues will face Leicester in the other semi.
AFP -Defending champions Munster powered into the European Cup semi-finals with a four-try 43-9 demolition of the Ospreys on Sunday to set up an all-Irish clash with Leinster for a place in the final.
Leinster edged Harlequins 6-5 at The Stoop in a gruelling, nail-biting quarter-final where the English side's hopes were thwarted by an early injury to star fly-half Nick Evans as well as a superb Irish rearguard action.
The other semi-final will pit Cardiff Blues against two-time champions Leicester.
At Thomond Park in Limerick, Munster, the 2006 and 2008 champions, dominated the Welsh region and scored tries through irrepressible Australian full-back Paul Warwick, Paul O'Connell and centre Keith Earls (2).
Warwick also nailed two drop-goals and Ronan O'Gara was immaculate in his kicking, hitting four conversions and three penalties for a personal haul of 17 points.
Ospreys had only three penalties from James Hook to their credit.
"We're thrilled with that performance," said man-of-the-match Warwick. "But we won't get carried away with ourselves."
At the Stoop, Harlequins, playing in their first quarter-final since 1998, were hampered by an early knee injury which hampered the mobility and kicking of Kiwi fly-half Evans.
"We knew that if they got the ball they would be hard to contain. We struggled to hold them at times," admitted Leinster's Australian lock Rocky Elsom, who was named man of the match.
Leinster were 6-0 to the good by the break with Argentine stand-off Felipe Contepomi kicking two penalties, the second of which came on the stroke of half-time following a terrific break from Ireland Grand Slam-winning skipper Brian O'Driscoll.
The centre chipped ahead, collected the ball and was stopped just short of the line.
Referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty after a deliberate knock-on by Quins' England international Number 8 Nick Easter who was sin-binned for his cynical interference.
Harlequins dominated possession in the second half, which saw Contepomi sin-binned for tripping Chris Robshaw, and full-back Mike Brown scored a 65th-minute try.
But Chris Malone, who had replaced Evans, missed the conversion and Leinster hung on for victory as Quins were left to regret their missed two penalties and conversion.
On Saturday, French scrum-half Julien Dupuy scored a dramatic last-minute try to hand two-time champions Leicester a 20-15 victory over Bath while Cardiff Blues stunned three-time former champions Toulouse 9-6.
Date created : 2009-04-12