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News article – Style E 3033

News article – Style E 3033

Connacht and Ulster booked their places in the inaugural Celtic
Cup semi-finals on Friday night, but things didn’t go as well for Leinster
and Munster.

Connacht and Ulster booked their places in the inaugural Celtic
Cup semi-finals on Friday night, but things didn’t go as well for Leinster
and Munster.

Connacht became the first Irish side to advance to the semi-finals of the Celtic
Cup after they narrowly beat Llanelli Scarlets 12-14 at Stradey Park on Friday
night.Llanelli outscored the visitors by two tries to one, but yet again the
boot of full back Mark McHugh proved to be the difference between the sides.
The Drogheda man claimed a try and three penalties to earn him the Man-of-the-Match

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Connacht started brightly, putting the Llanelli set piece under pressure form
the kick off. However, it was the home side that were first to score when Salesi
Finau ran onto a great chip from scrum half Dale Burn. Outhalf Gareth Bowen
failed to convert and his inaccurate kicking was to prove crucial late on. Connacht
hit back soon after when a loose pass from Burn to Bowen saw Mark McHugh tumble
over to level the score. He too was wide of the mark with the extras.

With half time approaching Connacht came close on two occasions, through Ray
Hogan and Darren Yapp, only to be denied on the line. After the break it was
Llanelli who looked the stronger side. However, Bowen’s poor kicking left the
Scarlets with nothing to show, after he missed three penalty chances – one of
which came from a foul by Conor McPhllips that saw the St. Mary’s spend ten
in the bin. Then, deep into injury time, Connacht won a penalty. McHugh then
did what he does best; he stepped up, slotted it over and clinched the tie.

Full Details at: www.connachtrugby.ie

Meanwhile in Glasgow, the home side pulled off the shock of the round, by beating
Munster 18-14 to book their semi-final place. Simon Kerr opened the scoring
for Munster after a counter attack and a series of mauls gave the prop a tough
drive over the line, and Jeremy Staunton converted to extend the lead.

Glasgow then lose Gareth Maclure to the bin for dissent, but Munster failed
to capitalise, and on his return he almost made amends only to be denied a try
by spilling forward on the line. Munster’s night got worse Staunton missed to
easy penalties to extend their lead, and it was Glasgow who were next to score.

Scotland hopeful Rory Kerr made up for missing out on the World Cup squad by
scoring his side’s first try, and Dan Parks levelled the scores with the conversion.Glasgow
started the second on the same foot and Cammy Mather and Dave Millard both came
close to taking the lead.

Take the lead they did, when Kerr passed inside to Paul Dearlove, who then
skipped over for the try. Parks failed with the conversion but made amends with
a penalty soon after. Munster staged a late comeback with a try from Mike Mullins
and conversion from Staunton, but it was too little too late, and Glasgow join
Ulster and Connacht in the last four.

Full Details at: www.munsterrugby.ie

Finally, a superior try count earned Ulster their semi-final spot after a close
contest left them and Leinster tied on 23 points each at Ravenhill. An injury
time penalty from outhalf Matt Leek levelled the sides at 23 all and brought
the match into extra time, but five minutes a side was not enough for either
side to score any additional points, so it was decided on tries scored.

Leinster dominated the first half, notching up two tries for their effort from
centre Gary Brown and another moments later from Brian O’Riordan, both of which
Matt Leek converted. Leek then added a penalty to give Leinster a 17-0 lead.
Ulster were then awarded a penalty try after Leo Cullen was sin-binned for killing
the ball in a ruck. Larkin added the extras, before Leek hitback with another

After the break, Larkin closed the gap with a penalty, and so began Ulsters
comeback. Ward came close, before Ben Gissing became the second Lion to see
a card, and the home side capitalised on the man over. Matt Mustchin won the
subsequent line out, Ulster mauled closer to line and Neil Best touched down.
Larkin missed the conversion, which would have levelled the score.

Four minutes later they made amends, taking the lead when Tyrone Howe ran onto
a great chip from Kieran Campbell. Again Larkin failed with the conversion,
and then Leinster forced the extra time when Leek slotted over another penalty.
There was some confusion over the extra period’s format, but with no score to
speak of, it was all in vain.

Full Details at: www.ulsterrugby.ie
& www.leinsterrugby.ie