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 forwards coach Simon Easterby chats about sharing the defence coaching duties, Sean O'Brien (tight hamstring) sitting out Wednesday's training session and also talks about the strength of the Welsh back row.
Andrew Trimble talks about coming back from injury to make Ireland's RBS 6 Nations squad and dealing with the excitement and nervousness ahead of a big game like Sunday's Championship opener against Wales.
We hear from returning front rowers Adam McBurney and Conan O'Donnell, captain James Ryan and fellow newcomer Paul Kiernan as the Ireland Under-20s look forward to opening the U-20 RBS 6 Nations on Friday night against Wales at their new home of Donnybrook.
Ireland prop Tadhg Furlong spoke about the excitement of facing his first RBS 6 Nations campaign, the challenge of scrummaging against Wales and his earliest memories of the Championship - which include apple pie!
We caught up with Ireland Women's captain Niamh Briggs at the RBS 6 Nations media launch in London. 'Briggsy' is looking forward to the Championship and welcoming some new faces into the Ireland squad.
Joe Schmidt has named five uncapped players in the Ireland squad - Ultan Dillane, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Stuart McCloskey and Finlay Bealham. We spoke to them on their first day in Ireland camp.
Ireland's U-18 School and U-18 Club players were part of a three day camp over the Christmas period and received specialist training and advice workshops as they continue their development path. We spoke to Team Manager John McKinney, Caoches Noel McNamara and Mark Butler and IRFU High Performance Manager Colin McEntee about the structure of the three days and the season ahead for the players.
In an in-depth interview IRFU Performance Director speaks about Ireland's Rugby World Cup review and the key learnings, the structure of the professional game, player contracts and movement and the challenges and opportunities for Irish Rugby.
Ireland Women's Sevens captain Lucy Mulhall, IRFU Director of Women's Rugby and Sevens, Anthony Eddy, and IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora speak about the World Rugby Women's Sevens Olympic Repechage tournament which will be hosted at the UCD Bowl next June.