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Heineken Cup as it happened

Leinster 25-6 Munster (Full time)

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By Pranav Soneji

1924: Felipe Contepomi, furnished with crutches, is mobbed by his team-mates, while Leo Cullen gets an apology from Alan Quinlan, who earlier was seen putting his hands a little too close to the Leinster captain's eyes. Leinster will make their Heineken Cup final bow at Murrayfield on 23 May, a day before the Lions fly off to South Africa. Join us for tomorrow's belter between Cardiff and Leicester at the Millennium Stadium. Kick-off is at 1500, see you then...

FULL TIME: LEINSTER 25-6 MUNSTER

80 mins: Leinster skipper Leo Cullen wanders off the field with the clock in the red - his contribution is more than appreciated by the fans in blue. Jamie Heaslip runs into touch and up go the arms of anyone clad in blue - Leinster have finally beaten their rivals in the Heineken Cup.

78 mins: It just gets worse for Munster, Mafi knocks on attempting to pierce non-existent holes in the Leinster defence, handing the blues the put-in at the scrum.

73 mins: Still they pound, absolutely no fat lady singing in Limerick right now. Leinster concede the penalties, but Munster just can't get a sniff of the line. And to compound matters further, they are turned over by Jamie Heaslip inches from the whitewash as Jonathan Sexton thumps the ball into touch. However, a penalty is conceded, so Munster are still camped inside Leinster territory.

70 mins: Here come Munster with a series of short bursts around the fringes, with hooker Jerry Flannery dancing through the lines with a great angle. But Alan Quinlan is just bundled into touch just inches from the tryline.

67 mins: David Wallace is absolutely nailed by a thumping Shane Horgan tackle, forcing the Lions flanker to spill the ball and hand Leinster possession at the scrum. Off goes Munster prop John Hayes, who becomes the most capped Heineken Cup player, overtaking Anthony Foley's record with 87 appearances.

65 mins: Nothing is going Munster's way. Marcus Horan is penalised for not releasing on the deck around the Leinster 22m line, much to the frustration of the Munster fans, most of whom are watching through their fingers.

61 mins: TRY Leinster 25-6 Munster
Just as Munster look to turn their territorial advantage into points, up pops Brian O'Driscoll to intercept Ronan O'Gara's pass to Paul O'Connell inside his own half. The Ireland captain sprints 70m, with only the fading O'Gara for company, to touch down under the posts. Murrayfield is within their sights as Sexton adds the extras.

58 mins: Epic attack and defence. Munster pound the ball through repeated phases, but are matched by Leinster's physicality. The ball breaks down, with referee Owens awarding the put-in to Munster 10m from the Leinster tryline. Enthralling. A big blow for Leinster as tryscorer Luke Fitzgerald is helped off the field with an injury, so Girvan Dempsey, a survivor from the previous semi-final in 2006, is on.

56 mins: Brilliant defence from Leinster as Munster's forwards attempt to pummel their opposite numbers into submission. The men in blue counter-attack, allowing BoD to clear, much to the jubilation of the Leinster fans.

54 mins: Shane Jennings says hello to Ronan O'Gara with a very late tackle, which does not go unseen from referee Owens, who awards Munster a penalty, thumped deep into Leinster's 22m. At last, something for the red-clad fans to get behind their team.

52 mins: A Powerful burst from Mafi sees Munster push on to Leinster's 22m. But as Munster look to push through the forwards, an inopportune knock-on ends any hope of a riposte.

49 mins: O'Gara is having a day to forget - his poor crossfield kick finds Jonathan Sexton, who counter-attacks into space, but Leinster are penalised for offside. More woe for O'Gara, whose long kick crosses the deadball line, sending play back into Munster territory.

47 mins: Malcolm O'Kelly is penalised for going in to a ruck off his feet, ending another probing sortie into Munster's 22m.

43 mins: TRY Leinster 18-6 Munster
Lovely sweeping move through the entire Leinster backline, including a brilliant offload from Shane Horgan off his wing, sees Luke Fitzgerald sidestep past full-back Paul Warwick to touch down on the left flank. Excellent score made even better by Jonathan Sexton's conversion. Hear that? That's the sound of the form book being ripped to shreds.

41 mins: Ian Dowling's scuffed kick ends the first bout of aerial foot tennis, although Munster steal the subsequent line out.

1832: The teams are back out at Croke Park. And we're off.

HALF TIME: LEINSTER 11-6 MUNSTER

40 mins: Strong finish from Munster, who snuff out any late try danger with a turnover just inside their 22m. But stern words will be dished out in the Munster dressing room after Nigel Owens whistles for half time.

38 mins: With two minutes on the clock left until half time, Jonathan Sexton has a punt with a drop-goal from 30m out, but his effort sails well wide of the posts.

36 mins: PENALTY Leinster 11-6 Munster
The sublime follows the not so subtle as Elsom is penalised for a shirt tug on the so-far quiet Doug Howlett as the Kiwi chases his own kick. Some finger wagging from Nigel Owens in Elsom's face as Ronan O'Gara notches his second kick of the afternoon.

34 mins: This is a corker - fantastic counter-attacking defence (is that an oxymoron?) from Leinster, with Rocky Elsom once again in the thick of things at the bottom of a ruck. Munster look short of ideas.

31 mins: TRY Leinster 11-3 Munster
Quite, quite brilliant from Leinster's midfield. Lovely lines from Isa Nacewa, via a Brian O'Driscoll pass, who dissects Munster's defence before sending out a floated pass to Gordon D'Arcy , who just about manages to bundle the ball down after he was felled a couple of metres by Keith Earls from the whitewash, but his momentum takes him over. Sexton misses the tough conversion from the left touchline. Superb try.

28 mins: Munster, not used to being under cosh for this season, manage to turnover possession, with Paul Warwick clearing to the half-way line.

27 mins: Even the bounce is going Leinster's way as BoD's clearance bounces awkwardly over the head of David Wallace on the Munster 22m, although the second rebound eludes the onrushing Jamie Heaslip, much to Wallace's relief. Had the second bounce landed in the number eight's hands, it would have been the first try of the afternoon.

26 mins: PENALTY Leinster 6-3 Munster
Rocky Elsom lives up to his name as he mauls his way through the Munster defence - courtesy of a subtle block from Shane Horgan on David Wallace - towards the tryline. The Australian is held up just metres from the whitewash, but up goes Nigel Owen's arm for a penalty in front of the sticks. But it's not all good news for Leinster, who loose Contempomi with a knee injury in the build-up to the penalty. Replays suggest the fly-half has twisted his knee. On comes replacement Jonathan Sexton , who, amid the hush, launches his kick right through the posts. Pressure? Eat it for breakfast.

23 mins: More indiscipline from Munster, this time for offside at the scrum. The left boot of Luke Fitzgerald sees the ball sail downfield.

21 mins: A penalty sees Leinster clear their lines to inside Munster's 22m, although Shane Horgan was rather fortunate that the penalty was not overturned after an injudicious retaliation on PoC. But an aggressive tackle from Ronan O'Gara, defensively under-rated sometimes, sees Leo Cullen penalised for not releasing.

18 mins: PENALTY Leinster 3-3 Munster
Munster hit back almost immediately when Ronan O'Gara sends a penalty 40m through following a very obvious obstruction from scrum-half Cian Healy, who is sent to the bins by referee Nigel Owens. Absolutely no subtlety there from the young number nine, quite right too.

16 mins: DROP-KICK Leinster 3-0 Munster
Bernard Jackman finds his jumpers, allowing Chris scrum-half Chris Whitaker to feed Felipe Contepomi , who nails a very high and straight drop-kick.

13 mins: Lots of industry from Leinster's forwards, nicking the ball from a ruck, allowing Brian O'Driscoll to send through a probing grubber kick for Fitzgerald to chase. Munster full-back Paul Warwick gets the ball - but is soon bundled out inside his own 22m. A good platform for Leinster on their own throw.

10 mins: Brilliant break at pace deep inside his own half from Keith Earls following a subtle offload from Mafi sees the centre outpacing the fleet-footed Luke Fitzgerald. He's eventually hauled down five metres short of the tryline, but the ball is recycled to winger Ian Dowling, who is shunted back two metres by an almighty try-saving tackle from Rocky Elsom. Brilliant stuff.

9 mins: Brilliant snaffle from Leinster prop Stan Wright from a high kick sets up Isa Nacewa to kick deep into Munster's 22m.

8 mins: Impressive defence from Leinster, with two big hits forcing Lifeimi Mafi to knock on, a tackle which sparks a mini rumpus with Gordon D'arcy and Keith Earls the epicentre. A stern lecture from the ever-spritely Nigel Owens to both captains warns both captains that any more of that and it's yellow cards.

5 mins: Not a good start at all for Contepomi. Peter Stringer charges down Brian O'Driscoll's kick, while the Leinster fly-half making a less-than impressive clearance deep inside his 22m line, making about five metres. However, Contepomi makes amends with a strong run from a quick penalty, earning valuable ground.

3 mins : Munster's Denis Leamy is penalised for a tackle at the ruck on the half-way line, allowing Felipe Contepomi his first shot at the sticks. The Argentine opts for a low trajectory but his radar is off-line as the kick sails right of the posts.

1 minute: Nice start from Felipe Contepomi, whose high hanging kick causes a bit of confusion in Munster's ranks, but Ronan O'Gara makes touch towards the half-way line with a confident kick.

1732: Plenty of red dotted around this incredible stadium, although the blue flags are giving their primary colour rivals a right belting battle. Blimey, that is some serious noise being made by those 83,000 inside this fantastic stadium. Team-wise, Munster have retained 14 of the starting 15 which thoroughly whooped Ospreys 43-9 in the quarter-finals, with Peter Stringer replacing the injured Tomas O'Leary. Leinster captain Leo Cullen returns to the second row, while Shane Horgan plays at right wing with Isa Nacewa moving to full-back.

We have a minute's silence in honour of Dr Karl Mullen, former Lions and Ireland captain who sadly passed away. Kick-off time...

1728: For all you non-partisans, there are 10 Lions on show at Croke Park, a number which would have been 12 but for an ankle injury to Tomas O'Leary and Rob Kearney's mumps. Ouch, no fun.

1726: The Heineken Cup has been a bit of a Curate's egg for Leinster. They have reached the semi-finals on three occasions since the competition's inception in 1996, but lost on every occasion.

The last time these two teams met at this stage in the Heineken Cup, Munster blew their neighbours away with a thorough 30-6 thumping in 2006, when they clinched the trophy following a 23-19 win over Biarritz.

Munster have nine survivors from that match while Leinster have seven, including Girvan Dempsey, on the bench for this afternoon's encounter.

1724: "I think Leinster have to get at O'Gara."
neiliog93 - Founder of the John Fogarty Supporters' front in opposition to Brian Blaney

606: Have your say

Possibly the best name on 606. Fact.

1720: If you're a Leinster fan, you may want to look away now... Munster have beaten Leo Cullen's side, last year's Magners League champions, twice already this season, restricting them to just one paltry try in the process.

Munster are searching for their third European triumph in four seasons. This will be their eighth semi-final appearance in 10 years - they have won five and lost three. And even the three they lost were seriously tight affairs, all lost by one score, so it's fair to say the men in red are as comfortable as a pillow factory in this situation.

1718: A quick reminder of the teams:

Leinster : Nacewa; Horgan, B O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Fitzgerald; Contepomi, Whitaker; Healy, Jackman, Wright, Cullen (cpt), O'Kelly, Elsom, Jennings, Heaslip. Replacements: Fogarty, McCormick, Toner, O'Brien, Keogh, Sexton, Dempsey.

Munster : Warwick; Howlett, Earls, Mafi, Dowling; O'Gara, Stringer; Horan, Flannery, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Connell (cpt), Quinlan, Wallace, Leamy. Replacements: Fogarty, Buckley, M O'Driscoll, Ronan, Prendergast, B Murphy, Hurley.

1715 : We all know players love telling us sporty reporting types that Heineken Cup semi-finals are "big games". But this one really is. No, really. A world record 82,300 are expected to rattle through the turnstiles to see Leinster v Munster in the Heineken Cup semi-final at Croke Park, surpassing the 81,600 that watched last year's Guinness Premiership final between Wasps and Leicester at Twickenham last season. But how many of those will be decked in red on Leinster's patch?



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see also
Leinster 25-6 Munster
02 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Cockerill confident of Tigers win
01 May 09 |  Leicester
Cardiff Blues v Leicester (Sun)
01 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup 2008/9
17 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union
Leinster wary of Munster threat
12 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Munster 43-9 Ospreys
12 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Harlequins 5-6 Leinster
12 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union


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