London Wasps advanced to their first Heineken Cup final with a thrilling 37-32 win over Munster at a packed Lansdowne Road.
Wasps advanced to their first Heineken Cup final with a thrilling 37-32 win over Munster at Lansdowne Road. Wasps, coached by former Ireland chief Warren Gatland, will nowface defending champions Toulouse in the final at Twickenham on May 23. The result added to Munster's European Cup misery - this was theirfifth successive European Cup semi-final but they have yet to win thetrophy. English champions Wasps had to overcome a 10-point deficit midwaythrough the second half but rallied and won a dramatic match when Samoahooker Tervor Leota went over in the closing stages for their fifth try. Wasps and England captain Lawrence Dallaglio said: "This gamehad courage, passion, skill, everything... It was a great game of rugby." Meanwhile New Zealander Gatland said: "I can't take thesmile off my face. "I thought the team showed great character. Not many teamscome back from a 10-point deficit against Munster. "I was very concerned at 32-22 behind. But this group ofplayers just has such a great work ethic and we didn't want to leave this behindus." Munster's Australian coach Alan Gaffney said losing Irelandfly-half Ronan O'Gara on the half-hour mark was an "enormous loss to us". He added: "Ronan's kicking game might have closed the gamedown for us. Wasps are a very good side but we missed too many first-up tacklesand allowed them to gain momentum." But Munster skipper and former Wallaby back-row Jim Williams said:"We've only got ourselves to blame. We talked about discipline and fieldposition before the game but we let them (Wasps) back into it." An action-packed first-half half ended with Wasps two points up at17-15 but a man down after England flanker Joe Worsley was yellow cardedfor killing the ball in the 34th minute. O'Gara gave Munster the lead in the opening minute with the firstof three penalties. Wasps responded three minutes later when Richard Birkett won alineout, the ball was worked across field and England wing Josh Lewsey crossed andfly-half Alex King converted. King and O'Gara added to the penalty tally before O'Gara departed.
Then came Worsley's sin-binning and O'Gara's replacement, JasonHolland, landed the resulting penalty to leave Munster 12-10 up. However, minutes later, Holland went from hero to villain when his clearance kick was charged down by former Wales scrum-half Rob Howley. The number nine, who almost got over the line himself, instead fedflanker Paul Volley for an opportunist try. But Holland's second penalty on the stroke of half-time reducedthe gap to 17-15 in Wasps' favour. Wasps though caught Munster cold at the start of the second halfwith a well-worked try. Left-wing Tom Voyce scythed his way crossfield through the Munsterdefence before full-back Mark van Gisbergen dived over in the right corner. Williams went to the video referee who confirmed the score andalthough King missed the touchline conversion, Wasps seemingly had breathingspace at 22-15. Worsley returned with his side in the lead before Holland's thirdpenalty reduced the gap to 22-18. Wasps then had a second-player sin-binned when, in the 51stminute, centre Fraser Waters was ordered off. And Munster then turned the game on its head with two tries in asmany minutes. In the 59th minute, following flanker Stephen Keogh's break, No.8Anthony Foley went over for a try. Holland landed a superb touchline conversion and Munster were25-22 ahead. The crowd went even more noisy when, following Holland's superbgrubber kick, Munster won the ball and skipper Williams was driven over. Holland added the extras to put Munster 10 points in front at32-22 with 20 minutes left. But Wasps refused to yield and King's penalty in the 67th minuteclosed the gap. And Wasps' recovery continued when, with Munster down to 13 menfollowing the sin-binnings of Donncha O'Callaghan and former Wasp RobHenderson, Voyce crossed for a try. King's conversion tied the game at 32-32 with barely six minutesremaining before Leota powered over to give Wasps the edge.
Ireland Women's Sevens captain Lucy Mulhall is in Langford this week for the Canada leg of the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series. Following Ireland's Bowl win in Atlanta, Lucy previews our prospects this weekend.
Ireland Women's Sevens captain Lucy Mulhall speaks about the build-up to the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens tournament in Atlanta, Georgia. The girls in green begin the pool stages against France at 12.52pm local time/5.52pm Irish time today.
IRFU High Performance Manager Colin McEntee reflects on the Easter matches played by the Ireland Under-18 and Under-19 teams, which ended last weekend with wins over the England Counties U-18s and France U-19s.
Watch highlights of the Ireland Under-18s' seven-try 43-0 victory over Scotland during the inaugural U-18 Five Nations Festival in Caerphilly, Wales. Number 8 and captain Caelan Doris scored a hat-trick of tries and winger Daniel Hurley bagged a brace.
Railway Union's Kim Flood made her debut at full-back for the Ireland Women in last weekend's 14-3 Six Nations win over Italy. She is looking forward to experiencing the partisan crowd at Donnybrook again this Sunday when Scotland are the visitors. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.ie.
Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek spoke to Irish Rugby TV on the eve of the final round of the RBS 6 Nations Championship. He is happy that the team are focused but warns that it will be a tough encounter with Scotland tomorrow.
Looking forward to the lineout battle with Scotland, Ireland lock Devin Toner said: "We went well again Italy, I think our set piece went well. If we can just build on that and build on the positives then I think we'll be okay."
Joe Schmidt spoke to Irish Rugby TV this morning with an update on the squad, a look back at Ireland's nine-try win over Italy and a preview of our final match of the RBS 6 Nations Championship against Scotland.
Ireland Women's head coach Tom Tierney was pleased to see his new-look side come away with a 14-3 win over Italy. Full-back Kim Flood, winger Liz Burke and replacement centre Claire McLaughlin made their international debuts on the day.