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Page last updated at 17:55 GMT, Saturday, 24 May 2008 18:55 UK
2008 Heineken Cup final
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, 24 May, 1700 BST



Munster (10) 16
Tries: Leamy Cons: O'Gara Pens: O'Gara 3

Toulouse (6) 13
Tries: Donguy Cons: Elissalde Pens: Elissalde Drop-goals Elissalde

By James Standley

Munster captain Paul O'Connell (left) and fly-half Ronan O'Gara (right) lift the Heineken Cup
Munster are now two-time champions of Europe

Munster became kings of Europe for a second time as a ferociously committed display saw them edge past Toulouse in the Heineken Cup final in Cardiff.

Denis Leamy's try and a Ronan O'Gara conversion and penalty put Munster 10-3 up after 35 minutes.

A Jean-Baptiste Elissalde penalty made it 10-6 at half-time before O'Gara edged Munster further ahead.

Toulouse levelled through Yves Donguy's try but a third penalty from O'Gara clinched Munster's second Heineken Cup.

Cardiff was the venue of Munster's first triumph in the competition, back in 2006, and the Millennium Stadium was once again packed with their army of passionate fans.

The two teams had featured in seven of the past nine finals and were owners of four Heineken Cups between them heading into the game.

With such European pedigree on the pitch it was always likely to be a close encounter and so it proved, although Toulouse enjoyed much the better of the opening stages.

They pinned Munster back inside their own half from the first whistle and although France scrum-half Elissalde, playing out of position at fly-half, missed an early penalty he nudged Toulouse into the lead after eight minutes with a snap drop-goal.

The French aristocrats continued to dominate territory but Munster's ferocious defence kept them at arm's length and Elissalde was reduced to attempting another drop-goal, which drifted wide.

606: DEBATE
SHAMROCK-PAFC
Munster had been unable to get out of their own half but as the half hour mark approached they finally established themselves in Toulouse territory.

When they swept the ball wide Doug Howlett's outside break got them on front foot, and after Denis Hurley took it on Denis Leamy tried to reach out from a ruck right on the Toulouse line and dot down.

The Television Match Official ruled he had lost control in the act of touching down but a fired-up Munster pack turned over possession at the scrum and were awarded an attacking scrum of their own.

Paul O'Connell led a series of drives at the Toulouse line and this time Leamy was not to be denied, powering over from close range with help from a couple of his mates to give Munster the lead.

O'Gara converted and added a penalty three minutes later to make it 10-3, but Elissalde landed a long-range penalty of his own right on the stroke of half-time to boost French spirits.

The match was very evenly poised but 10 minutes into the second half - just after Howlett had seen what he thought was a try disallowed for a forward pass - came what looked likely to be a decisive moment.

Paul O'Connell celebrates with the Heineken Cup
Paul O'Connell was at the heart of a powerful Munster performance
Toulouse captain Fabien Pelous was harshly sin-binned for illegal use of the boot and O'Gara slotted the resulting penalty to give Munster a seven-point lead.

Trailing by a converted try and a man down Toulouse were on the edge, but Cedric Heymans suddenly came to life to set up a remarkable try.

Catching a deep kick in touch the France international took the throw to himself and then chipped the on-rushing Munster defenders.

The full-back re-gathered the ball, chipped again and, after Yannick Jauzion had kicked through, Donguy won the race to touch down for an extraordinary score.

Elissalde drilled the conversion from wide out between the posts to level the score at 13-13 and tilt the momentum back in the French side's favour.

They began to attack in waves, with Elissalde ruining one incisive attack with a poor kick at the death which Marcus Horan was able to touch down for a 22 with no French attacker within five metres of him.

But Munster held firm and when they went back on the attack just after the hour Pelous, who had just come back onto the pitch, was again penalised, this time for not rolling away in the tackle, and O'Gara kicked Munster back into the lead.

As time began to ebb away the Munster pack took control of possession and they camped out in Toulouse's half, with a Rua Tipoki-inspired attack nearly leading to a second try.

Toulouse struggled to get anywhere near the Munster line and although they managed a last attack with a minute to go Munster turned the ball over and in the process ensured they would become champions of Europe for a second time.


Munster: Hurley; Howlett, Mafi, Tipoki, Dowling; O'Gara, O'Leary; Horan, Flannery, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Connell (capt), Quinlan, Wallace, Leamy.
Replacements: Sheahan, Buckley, M O'Driscoll, Ryan, Stringer, Warwick, Earls.

Toulouse: Heymans; Medard, Kunavore, Jauzion, Donguy; Elissalde, Kelleher; Human, Servat, Perugini, Pelous (capt), Albacete, Bouilhou, Dusautoir, Sowerby.
Replacements: Basualdo, Poux, Millo-Chluski, Nyanga, Fritz, Ahotaeiloa, Lamboley.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)




see also
Munster savour Heineken triumph
24 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Munster return to summit
25 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup final as it happened
24 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup final photos
24 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup final lowdown
22 May 08 |  Rugby Union
The secret of Munster's success
22 May 08 |  Munster
Europe's rugby giants
22 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Saracens 16-18 Munster
27 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
London Irish 15-21 Toulouse
26 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup photos
27 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Gloucester 3-16 Munster
05 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Toulouse 41-17 Blues
06 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Munster 23-19 Biarritz
20 May 06 |  European Club
Stade Francais 12-18 Toulouse
22 May 05 |  European Club
Wasps 27-20 Toulouse
23 May 04 |  European Club
Toulouse regain European crown
24 May 03 |  European Club
Toulouse edge out Munster
26 Apr 03 |  European Club
Tigers retain European Cup
25 May 02 |  European


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