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BBC Sport's Alastair Hignell
"Absolute heartbreak for Munster"
 real 14k

banner Saturday, 21 April, 2001, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Munster edged out by Stade
John O'Neill
John O'Neill clearly scores the try that was disallowed.
Stade Francais 16-15 Munster

Stade Francais survived a tense second half to scrape into the Heineken Cup final.

They scored the only try of a game in the 33rd minute before nervously hanging on to their first half advantage.

But it was a controversial decision which possibly cost Munster another cup final appearance.

They were denied a perfectly good try in the 52nd minute when they were trailing 16-9.

Winger John O'Neill chased a kick by scrum-half Peter Stringer and appeared to touch down in the corner before crashing out of play.

Ruled out

However, English referee Chris White ruled that O'Neill had crashed into the corner flag before touching down.

A television replay, however, proved differently, much to the disappointment of the men in red who nevertheless still kept up their relentless pressure.

Stade managed to hold on during a nervous final 10 minutes with their defence proving impregnable.

Naturally it was a very disappointed Declan Kidney at the end.

The Munster coach said: ''Fair play to Stade Francais.

''They defended very well and did not give us much space to operate on.


They did not give a try and we are out
  Munster coach Declan Kidney

Kidney was reticient to complain about that controversial decision not to award his side a try.

''We will have a look at it a lot closer later.

''But the referee and touch judges have a job to do.

''They did not give a try and we are out.

''I know how hard the players have tried,'' said Kidney who agreed that lack of competition was partly to blame for some rustiness.

''It is impossible to replace match practice.

''That was a lot of the lads' first competitive match since the weekend of the French game.

''But I am still very proud of them for coming within one point of a team as good as Stade Francais.''

Revenge

It was sweet revenge for the Frenchmen who lost out twice to Irish teams in the knock-out stages in previous seasons.

Munster, though, looked very ring-rusty, having not played a proper competitive game since their quarter-final success over Bairritz 11 weeks ago.

Michael Mullins
Michael Mullins is tackled by Richard Pool-Jones

In the main it was left to Deigo Dominguez and Ronan O'Gara to keep the scoreboard ticking along.

It didn't take too long before both goal-kickers were brought into action.

It took Dominguez only two minutes to open his account, then three minutes later O'Gara knocked over the equalising penalty.

Mistakes were abundant in the soft conditions with handling proving a major problem for the Frenchmen.

There were few spaces to negotiate for the threequarters and it was left to Dominguez and O'Gara to move the scoreboard along.

Slipped ahead

The Munster fly-half rattled one over from 41 metres but it was squeezed in between two sweetly-taken penalties by Dominguez as Stade slipped 9-6 ahead in the 32nd minute.

A minute later, however, the Frenchmen scored the first try of the game that was engineered from a line-out.

Right wing Thomas Lombard burst down the middle before good handling and support saw Kiwi centre Cliff Mytton finally charging over for Dominguez to convert.

Munster needed a big lift at the start of the second period and it was again supplied by O'Gara with his third penalty.

Then came that controversial decision by Mr White which could have changed the whole complexion of the game.

Lead

However, while Stade appeared to rest on their first half lead, Munster still took the game to the Frenchmen.

O'Gara twice missed long-range penalties before narrowing the gap to four points with 10 minutes remaining with his fourth penalty.

Christophe Dominici put further pressure on his side when he was sin-binned for stamping in the 72nd minute.

O'Gara then rattled over his five penalty with two minutes of normal time remaining, but Stade's 14-men held out.

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See also:

21 Apr 01 |  Heineken Cup
Clockwatch: Stade 16-15 Munster
20 Apr 01 |  Heineken Cup
Stringer and Wallace fit
19 Apr 01 |  Heineken Cup
Wallace more optimistic
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