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Munster 37-14 Sale

Munster (12) 37
Tries: O'Connell, Flannery, Wallace, Dowling, O'Leary, Warwick Cons: O'Gara 2 Pens: Warwick

Sale (6) 14
Try: Hodgson Pens: Hodgson 2, McAlister

Jerry Flannery and Charlie Hodgson
Jerry Flannery breaks through Charlie Hodgson's tackle to score a Munster try

Holders Munster clinched a place in the last eight of the Heineken Cup by earning a bonus-point win over Sale.

Tries by Paul O'Connell and Jerry Flannery helped Munster lead 12-6 at the break as Charlie Hodgson missed a couple of crucial penalty chances.

David Wallace's score extended the lead before Hodgson's try gave Sale hope.

But Hodgson's error gifted a try to Ian Dowling and Tomas O'Leary and Paul Warwick added further tries as Sale's hopes of qualification evaporated.

Munster struck an early blow with the outstanding O'Connell diving over the top of a ruck on the edge of the Sale line to score after brilliant work by Keith Earls and Ronan O'Gara.

Earls had gathered his own chip-and-chase to put the Sale defence under pressure and O'Gara set up the ruck by bravely diving to win possession after Warwick's kick infield.

Hodgson missed an immediate straightforward chance to cut Munster's lead but he was successful in the eighth minute from another penalty.

However, the champions were halfway to a bonus point in the 13th minute when Flannery touched down in the corner after O'Gara's brilliant pick-up in midfield and quick hands from Warwick and the industrious Wallace.


O'Gara added the extras and Sale suffered another blow four minutes later when Hodgson horribly hooked a chance to cut into Munster's lead.

However, a moment of madness from Flannery gifted three points to Sale in the 20th minute with Luke McAlister taking the kicking duties to good effect from long range.

Flannery deservedly got his 10 minutes in the sin-bin for his blatant trip but the home side comfortably maintained their 12-6 lead to the interval.

Munster notched their third try a minute into the second half as Wallace ran from the edge of Sale's 22 before stretching to score after Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe had lost possession.

McAllister's second successful penalty reduced Munster's lead to 19-9 and Sale seemed to be back in it on 51 minutes when Hodgson scored in the corner after a quick tap from replacement scrum-half Dwayne Peel.

But Hodgson turned to villain five minutes later when he spilled O'Gara's diagonal kick which enabled Dowling to scramble his side's fourth try - guaranteeing Munster's bonus point.

Munster's quarter-final place was secured when O'Leary sniped over for his side's fifth try in the 66th minute and Sale's defence was nowhere to be seen as Warwick ran in another score eight minutes from time.

With O'Gara replaced, Warwick added a penalty in injury-time to complete an emphatic win as Munster qualified for their 11th successive Heineken Cup knockout stage.

Munster captain Paul O'Connell :

"It was a very good performance although we got a few bounces of the ball - something we haven't been getting recently.

"We just really wanted it. We put a lot of ourselves into this week.

"After the (recent) game against Ulster, we started picking up on every single little detail that we could and it has benefited our performances over the last two weeks."

Sale captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe

"They were the better team. They controlled us. They killed our game and they killed our confidence.

"We didn't defend as we have been defending and we didn't control the ball as we have been controlling it.

"We had a really, really bad game and they had a great game."

Munster: Warwick; Howlett, Earls, Mafi, Dowling, O'Gara, O'Leary; Horan, Flannery, Hayes; O'Callaghan, O'Connell (capt), Quinlan, Wallace, Leamy.
Replacements: Fogarty (Flannery 76), Ryan (Quinlan 55), Ronan (Leamy 70), Stringer (O'Leary 71), Hurley (O'Gara), Pucciariello and Murphy not used.

Sale: Cueto, Bell, Tuilagi, McAlister, Doherty, Hodgson, Wigglesworth, Faure, Jones, Roberts, Chabal, Schofield, Jones, Briggs, Lobbe (captain).
Replacements: Turner (Roberts 75), Sheridan (Faure 46), Cockbain (Schofield 46), Abraham (Jones 59), Peel (Wigglesworth 51), Keil (Tuilagi 28), Tait (Hodgson 62).

Att : 26,000

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRFU)

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see also
Sale 14-8 London Irish
09 Jan 09 |  English
Ospreys 21-25 Munster
09 Jan 09 |  Welsh
Heineken Cup tables
09 Aug 06 |  Tables
Heineken Cup 2008/9
17 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union

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