Tue, Apr 14, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Munster, Leinster set up all-Irish semi

AFP , PARIS

Leinster’s Malcolm O’Kelly, left, and Rocky Elsom, second left, chase Harlequins scrumhalf Danny Care during their European Cup quarter-final rugby match at the Stoop in Twickenham, west of London, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Defending champions Munster powered into the European Cup semi-finals with a four-try 43-9 demolition of the Ospreys on Sunday to set up an all-Irish clash with Leinster for a place in the final.

Leinster edged Harlequins 6-5 at the Stoop in a grueling, nail-biting quarter-final where the English side’s hopes were thwarted by an early injury to star fly-half Nick Evans as well as a superb Irish rearguard action.

The other semi-final will pit Cardiff Blues against two-time champions Leicester.

At Thomond Park in Limerick, Munster, the 2006 and 2008 champions, dominated the Welsh region and scored tries through irrepressible Australian full-back Paul ­Warwick, Paul O’Connell and center Keith Earls (2).

Warwick also nailed two drop-goals and Ronan O’Gara was immaculate in his kicking, hitting four conversions and three penalties for a personal haul of 17 points.

Ospreys had only three penalties from James Hook to their credit.

At the Stoop, Harlequins, playing in their first quarter-final since 1998, were hampered by an early knee injury that hampered the mobility and kicking of Kiwi fly-half Evans.

Leinster were 6-0 to the good by the break with Argentine stand-off Felipe Contepomi kicking two penalties, the second of which came on the stroke of half-time following a terrific break from Ireland Grand Slam-winning skipper Brian O’Driscoll.

The center chipped ahead, collected the ball and was stopped just short of the line.

Referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty after a deliberate knock-on by Quins’ England international Number 8 Nick Easter who was sin-binned for his cynical interference.

Harlequins dominated possession in the second half, which saw Contepomi sin-binned for tripping Chris Robshaw, and full-back Mike Brown scored a 65th-minute try.

But Chris Malone, who had replaced Evans, missed the conversion and Leinster hung on for victory as Quins were left to regret their missed two penalties and conversion.

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