European Rugby Champions Cup: Munster 41-16 Toulouse

Simon Zebo eludes the Toulouse tackles to set up a Munster attack at Thomond Park
Simon Zebo eludes the Toulouse tackles to set up a Munster attack at Thomond Park
European Champions Cup
Munster 41 (13)
Tries: Ryan, Stander, Sweetnam, Conway Cons: Bleyendaal 3 Pens: Bleyendaal 5
Toulouse 16 (9)
Tries: Perez Cons: Doussain Pens: Doussain 3

Munster reached a first European Champions Cup semi-final in three years with an emphatic victory over Toulouse.

They outscored Toulouse by four tries to one at Thomond Park to make the last four in Europe for the 12th time.

John Ryan's early try helped Munster to a 13-9 half-time lead before CJ Stander crossed, though Paul Perez's breakaway try closed Toulouse's deficit to 24-16.

Darren Sweetnam and Andrew Conway added late Munster tries to set up a semi-final against Saracens or Glasgow.

Tyler Bleyendaal overcame the absence of his regular half-back partner Conor Murray, who was a late withdrawal before kick-off, to control the play and also kicked 19 points.

Both sides were contesting their 16th European Cup quarter-final but came into the game with contrasting form.

Munster, winners of seven of their previous eight home quarter-finals, are second in the Pro12 table while Toulouse have lost five of their last six Top 14 games and it was the home side who made a fast, confident start.

Paul Perez's breakaway try was the best moment of the second half for Toulouse at Thomond Park
Paul Perez's breakaway try was the best moment of the second half for Toulouse at Thomond Park

The visitors created their own problems with Francois Cros sin-binned in the first minute for a rash elbow on Duncan Williams.

It cost them 10 points with prop John Ryan bundling over for his first European try in the fifth minute.

Tyler Bleyendaal's conversion and subsequent penalty made it 10-0 after 10 minutes.

The fly-half had a try disallowed for a knock-on in an earlier phase but Munster's forwards dominated with Peter O'Mahony imperious, stealing three Toulouse lineouts.

The visitors relied on the boot of Jean-Marc Doussain who landed three penalties to reduce the deficit to 13-9 at half time.

With the wind advantage in the second half, Munster kicked on with Stander's try and two Bleyendaal penalties seemingly taking the game away from the French outfit.

Stander's pick and go from the base of a ruck was classic Munster, with the province setting a relentless pace in the third quarter.

Out of nowhere, Toulouse were given a lifeline when Paul Perez's power and speed put him clear down the wing and he finished superbly, despite a dubious forward pass in the build-up.

Munster defended valiantly in the final quarter and four minutes from the end great pressure from Jaco Taute forced a turnover, giving Sweetnam an easy finish. Zebo's quick hands put Conway in as Munster joined Irish rivals Leinster in the semi-finals.

Munster: S Zebo; D Sweetnam, J Taute, R Scannell, K Earls; T Bleyendaal, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, J Ryan; D Ryan, B Holland; P O'Mahony (capt) T O'Donnell, CJ Stander.

Replacements: R Marshall, J Cronin, S Archer, D O'Callaghan, J O'Donoghue, A Lloyd, F Saili, A Conway.

Toulouse: M Medard; Y Huget, F Fritz, G Fickou, P Perez; JM Doussain, S Bezy; C Baille, L Ghiraldini, C Johnston; R Gray, Y Maestri; T Dusautoir (capt), Y Camara, F Cros.

Replacements: J Marchard, G Steenkamp, D Aldegheri, T Gray, P Faasalele, J Tekori, L McAlister, A Bonneval.

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