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Gloucester 3-16 Munster

Gloucester (0) 3
Pens: Lamb

Munster (8) 16
Tries: Dowling, Howlett Pens: O'Gara 2

by James Standley

Munster centre Rua Tipoki looks to move the ball at Kingsholm
Munster centre Rua Tipoki turned in a man of the match performance

Munster powered into the Heineken Cup semi-finals with a dominant display away to Gloucester.

Chris Paterson missed three early penalties for the hosts and it was the visitors who took the lead through Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara.

Ian Dowling went over to give Munster an 8-0 lead and O'Gara nudged them further ahead early in the second half.

Doug Howlett's try killed off the game and Ryan Lamb's penalty was barely a consolation for Gloucester.

The Irish province will travel away once more in the semi-finals with the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff the venue if the Ospreys win their match against Saracens, while Coventry's Ricoh Arena will host the semi if the London side win on Sunday.

Gloucester and Munster went into the game with plenty of history between them already, including the so-called "Miracle Match" from 2003 when they won 33-6 to reach the last eight at Gloucester's expense.

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Gloucester needed to get off to a fast start against the 2006 champions but found an unlikely villain in the shape of the normally reliable Paterson.

The metronomic kicker has landed 33 attempts in a row for Scotland but he failed with three early penalties to stall the hosts' initial momentum.

His first chance came after 10 seconds as Lifeimi Mafi took out Olly Morgan as he chased the kick-off, but Paterson stunned the crowd by missing from straight in front of the posts from 30m.

There was an air of disbelief after the kick slid wide but the Scot was soon at it again, hooking another simple effort after Munster infringed to halt a sweeping move.

Gloucester moved the ball about at pace in the opening stages, with the likes of James Simpson-Daniel looking threatening in the wider channels, but Munster took the lead after their first real attack.

Italy prop Carlos Nieto was sin-binned for not rolling away at a ruck after 12 minutes and O'Gara got the visitors on the scoreboard with a simple penalty.

When Paterson then missed a third penalty attempt it seemed to take the wind out of the hosts' sails and as the half wore on Munster grew stronger and stronger, claiming their opening try just before the break.

Former All Black Howlett, New Zealand's all-time leading try scorer, launched a counter attack from inside his own 22.

Lesley Vainikolo (right) and Denis Leamy have a disagreement in the first half
Lesley Vainikolo (right) was involved in an early tussle as tempers flared

Gloucester managed to halt the initial long-range raid but Munster kept the ball alive and, with a penalty advantage being played, they kept hammering away.

The referee decided the advantage was over but Munster continued to probe and when man of the match Rua Tipoki flung the ball wide, Lesley Vainikolo could not pick off the interception and Howlett put Dowling over in the corner for a superb score.

It was fitting reward for a sustained assault and although O'Gara could not add the conversion, the visitors would have been delighted with an 8-0 lead at the break.

Gloucester boss Dean Ryan brought on Mike Tindall and Gareth Delve for Anthony Allen and Peter Buxton respectively immediately after the try, but it was Munster who struck next.

Nieto had long since returned after his first-half sin-binning but his discipline let him down once more 10 minutes after half-time as he again infringed at a ruck and O'Gara made it 11-0.

Gloucester made further changes in an attempt to lift their game and they gained the upper hand, but despite a threatening break by Simpson-Daniel they could not make their possession count and just after the hour mark Munster struck.

The hosts lost the ball in midfield and Munster countered superbly, with Howlett showing his paces as he raced onto Denis Hurley's pin-point kick through to score.

O'Gara once again failed to land the difficult conversion but at 16-0 the match was over as a contest.

Gloucester fly-half Lamb, who had replaced the unfortunate Paterson as kicker, did land a penalty to get the hosts on the board as the rain started to hammer down.

But Munster were never threatened as they marched into their seventh Heineken Cup semi-final in nine years.


Gloucester coach Dean Ryan:
"A number of small margins were always going to decide a game like this one, and you have got to give Munster credit.

"We had to play the game slightly differently - we had to be prepared to do that - but I believe we are heading in the right direction.

"It didn't happen for us against a very good side who, defensively, were outstanding."

Munster rugby director Declan Kidney:
"We probably rode our luck but it was a huge effort from the whole squad, and a huge amount of credit has to go to everyone involved.

"I am delighted to have got through, and you have to enjoy these days."


Gloucester: Morgan, Paterson, Simpson-Daniel, Allen, Vainikolo, Lamb, Lawson, Wood, Titterrell, Nieto, Bortolami, Brown, Buxton, Hazell, Narraway.
Replacements: Paul, Dickinson, W. James, Delve, Cooper, Walker, Tindall.

Munster: D. Hurley, Howlett, Tipoki, Mafi, Dowling, O'Gara, O'Leary, Buckley, Flannery, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, Quinlan, Wallace, Leamy.
Replacements: Sheahan, Pucciarello, O'Driscoll, Foley, Stringer, Warwick, Lewis.




see also
Heineken Cup as it happened
05 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup photos
05 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
London Irish 20-9 Perpignan
05 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
English trio at home in quarters
22 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup 2007/8
23 May 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup photos
20 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup as it happened
20 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union


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