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Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Sunday, 27 April 2008 16:48 UK
Heineken Cup semi-finals 2008
26-27 April, 2008



Saracens (7) 16
Tries: Ratuvou Cons: Jackson Pen: Jackson (3)

Munster (15) 18
Try: O'Gara, Quinlan Cons: O'Gara Pens: O'Gara (2)

Donncha O'Callaghan and Alan Quinlan
Donncha O'Callaghan and Alan Quinlan celebrate

Munster will meet Toulouse in the Heineken Cup final after a tense victory against Saracens.

The Irish side led 15-7 at half-time thanks to tries from fly-half Ronan O'Gara and flanker Alan Quinlan.

Winger Kameli Ratuvou crossed for Saracens in a high-quality first half and Glen Jackson landed three penalties for the English team after the break.

But after O'Gara sent over a crucial penalty, Munster held on to secure a place in the final in Cardiff.

Saracens made a blistering start to the game, with Ratuvou crossing after only five minutes.

As Munster pressed, Saracens turned the ball over and full-back Richard Haughton did well in his own 22 to take his side away from the try-line.

Jackson then poked the ball through for Ratuvou who made a stunning break from inside his own half before passing inside to Neil De Kock who then released Adam Powell.

Powell looked as if he would make it all the way to the Munster line but was tackled just short. But Ratuvou was on hand to bundle over from close range to give his side a dream start.

Munster's response was rapid and although Ian Dowling had a try disallowed for a forward pass, the team from Ireland had already been awarded a penalty which O'Gara sent over.

Ratuvou continued to cause Munster problems and only a timely intervention from Doug Howlett stopped the Fijian wing from crossing for his second try after a powerful break down the touchline.

Kameli Ratuvou
Kameli Ratuvou goes over for Saracens

All Black Howlett, widely recognised as Munster's best attacking threat, spent much of the first-half defending and putting in several big hits, firstly on Ratuvou and then De Kock.

Francisco Leonelli then came inches short of collecting a Jackson cross-kick with Dowling doing just enough to avert the danger.

Shortly after, Munster wasted an overlap in the corner with Lifeimi Mafi and Denis Hurley stopped short with the try line at their mercy.

Munster soon showed their class, though, and after intense pressure on the Saracens line they eventually got their reward with their first try of the game.

O'Gara scored it, slicing through the Saracens midfield after the Munster forwards had superbly recycled a ruck to provide quick ball for the backs to exploit.

Sarries then suffered a sucker punch on the stroke of half-time with Quinlan taking the ball at the base of the ruck and running home under the posts for Munster's second try after Howlett's fine break.

O'Gara sent over the conversion but Jackson reduced the deficit by three, with a straightforward penalty to give his side some hope.

A five-point difference became two after Jackson sent over his second penalty of the game. Importantly, though, Munster centre Rua Tipoki, was sent to the bin in his efforts to prevent Ratuvou from recycling quick ball after he had been tackled short.

Saracens wasted the advantage they were given when prop Nick Lloyd was yellow-carded for punching.

606: DEBATE

The Guiness Premiership outfit felt hard done by, but replays showed the prop was lucky to stay on after unleashing a barrage of punches on Munster forward Denis Leamy.

O'Gara missed the conversion but made no mistake a few minutes later with another penalty after prop Census Johnston made no effort to roll away in a ruck and was despatched to the bin.

With three men off the pitch and uncontested scrums being played as a result, the later stages of the game were scrappy and lacked continuity.

Bursts of rain made handling difficult with both sides constantly knocking the ball on.

But while Munster looked the more likely to cross, Saracens kept chipping away at their lead, Jackson sending over his third penalty with 10 minutes remaining.

Saracens now trailed by only two points and they pushed for field position to set up a Jackson drop-goal, but Munster held out to make their second final in three years.


Munster: D Hurley; D Howlett, L Mafi, R Tipoki, I Dowling; R O'Gara, T O'Leary; M Horan, J Flannery, J Hayes; D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell (capt); A Quinlan, D Wallace, D Leamy.
Replacements: F Sheahan, F Pucciariello, M O'Driscoll, D Ryan, P Stringer, P Warwick, B Murphy.

Saracens: R Haughton; F Leonelli, K Sorrell, A Powell, K Ratuvou; G Jackson, N De Kock (capt); N Lloyd, M Cairns, C Visagie, H Vyvyan, K Chesney, P Gustard, R Hill, B Skirving.
Replacements: F Ongaro, C Johnston, T Ryder, D Barrell, M Rauluni, G Ross, D Scarbrough.


see also
Heineken Cup as it happened
27 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Hill set for final fling
25 Apr 08 |  English
Hill primed for Munster mission
25 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Saracens 29-40 Wasps
20 Apr 08 |  English
Munster 9-8 Ospreys
19 Apr 08 |  Munster
Ricoh will host Saracens-Munster
07 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Munster deserve plaudits - Ryan
07 Apr 08 |  Gloucester
Gaffney happy to silence critics
06 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Saracens 19-10 Ospreys
06 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Gloucester 3-16 Munster
05 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union


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