Magic Munster, Mighty Munster, Miraculous Munster. However you want to call them, they certainly know how to perform when the pressure in on.
…Kilkenny man Ian Dowling is lifted above the Thomond Park crowd as the celebrations begin in the aftermath of Saturday’s 31-9 win. The 23-year-old winger scored his first Heineken Cup try against Sale, having made his debut in the competition just over a week ago in Castres…
HEINEKEN CUP: POOL ONE: Saturday, January 21
MUNSTER 31 SALE SHARKS 9, Thomond Park (Att: 13,200)
Scorers: Munster: Tries: Anthony Foley, Ian Dowling, Barry Murphy, David Wallace; Cons: Ronan O’Gara 4; Pen: O’Gara
Sale: Pens: Charlie Hodgson 3
Magic, mighty, miraculous? Munster were all of those and more as they blasted their way past Pool One leaders Sale to confirm their place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals for the eighth year on the trot. A win? No problem! A Bonus point? Thank you very much! Home quarter-final? Job done.
Munster produced yet another wonderful performance to reaffirm their role at the heart of Irish Rugby.
Three first half tries from Anthony Foley, Ian Dowling and Barry Murphy left the Guinness Premiership pace-setters gasping. The Sharks rallied to a degree in the second half but could not get back into the game. A precious bonus point try finally arrived for Munster in the second minute of injury-time – Sale were unable to keep flanker David Wallace out from close range.
Munster now face Perpignan, who topped Pool Two with 23 points, in the last-eight. That game will be played at Lansdowne Road over the weekend of March 31 to April 2.
MUNSTER: Shaun Payne; John Kelly, Barry Murphy, Trevor Halstead, Ian Dowling; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Donnacha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Denis Leamy, David Wallace, Anthony Foley (capt).
Replacements used: Federico Pucciariello for Foley (40+2-40+6 mins), Tomas O’Leary for Stringer, Denis Fogarty for Flannery, Federico Pucciariello for Horan, Stephen Keogh for Foley, Mick O’Driscoll for O’Connell, Mossie Lawlor for Payne (all 80+2). Not used: Gary Connolly.
SALE: Daniel Larrechea; Mark Cueto, Mark Taylor, Elvis Seveali’i, Jason Robinson (capt); Charlie Hodgson, Sililo Martens; Andrew Sheridan, Sibastien Bruno, Barry Stewart, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Chris Jones, Jason White, Magnus Lund, Sibastien Chabal.
Replacements used: Epi Taione for Seveali’i (26 mins), Richard Wigglesworth for Martens (49), Andy Titterrell for Bruno, Dean Schofield for Fernandez Lobbe (both 59), Ben Coutts for Stewart (65), Chris Mayor for Jones (70). Not used: John Carter.
Sin Bin: Fernandez Lobbe (Sale) (3 mins), Horan (Munster), Jones (Sale) (both 34)
Referee: Joel Jutge (France)