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Saturday, 5 January, 2002, 16:47 GMT
Munster hammer Harlequins
Ronan O'Gara's haul included a penalty from inside his own half
O'Gara helped guide Munster to an impressive win
Munster 51-17 Harlequins

Munster guaranteed themselves a place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals by comfortably overcoming understrength Harlequins at Thomond Park.

Harlequins, already out of contention for a place in the last eight, battled gamely but they badly missed the inspiration of Irish captain Keith Wood and England star Jason Leonard.

In addition, big name stars such as Will Greenwood and Dan Luger failed to make an impact in the Limerick contest.

  Scores and scorers
Munster 51
Tries: Dominic Crotty, Jason Holland, Frank Sheahan, Mike Galway & Alan Quinlan
Cons: Ronan O'Gara (3)
Pens: O'Gara (5)

Harlequins 17
Tries: Tony Diprose (2)
Cons: Paul Burke (2)
Pen: Burke
The visitors started brightly and home fans were relieved to see scrum-half Mike Prendergast find touch after the visitors had threatened to score an early try.

But Munster hit back emphatically by crossing the Harlequins line with their first attack in the fifth minute.

Centre Jason Holland dived in for the try after Aussie import Jim Williams had looked likely to notch the score.

Both sides produced a number of attacks before a Paul Burke penalty reduced Munster's advantage to two points.

Burke was fortunate a minute later when Alan Quinlan blocked down the fly-half's kick from just inside the '22 but the Munster forward knocked on his attempted pick-up.

However, Munster did quickly grab another score when O'Gara thumped over a huge penalty from inside his own half.

Peter Clohessy and Mick Galway
Peter Clohessy (l) earned his 100th Munster cap
Hooker Frankie Sheahan scored Munster's second try in the 27th minute with the forward driving over for the score after a line-out five yards from the Harlequins line.

Another O'Gara penalty in the 33rd minute left Munster comfortably in control at 16-3.

Harlequins hit back two minutes before half-time with Tony Diprose's push-over try converted by Burke.

However, the score only served to stir the home team into notching their third try with Anthony Foley diving under the Harlequins posts after a Munster attack.

O'Gara's conversion left Munster 23-10 ahead at the break.

The Irish international fly-half put further daylight between the teams when he scored another penalty two minutes into the second half.


I can't see any team beating them at home, even Leicester
John Kingston,
Harlequins coach
Harlequins hit back five minutes later with Diprose comfortably running in for his second try of the afternoon after a burst of pressure from the visitors.

Burke's superb conversion from near the sideline reduced Munster's lead to nine points again.

Munster responded to the score immediately with O'Gara slotting over his fourth penalty of the afternoon.

Another O'Gara penalty in the 53rd minute extended Munster's advantage to 15 points.

Any prospect of a Harlequins fightback ended when Munster full-back Dominic Crotty scored his side's fourth try in the 61st minute.


That win was very important for us after losing the Celtic League final
Mick Galwey
By that stage of the match, Harlequins' Irish international fly-half Paul Burke had been substituted with Mark Mapletoft sent in to operate in the key role.

Munster captain Mick Galwey then got in on the try-scoring act by driving over for his side's fifth try in the 71st minute.

O'Gara's successful conversion extended Munster's lead to 44-17.

By now Munster were totally on top and they ripped apart Harlequins defence in the 73rd minute with Alan Quinlan scoring the home side's sixth try.

O'Gara's conversion brought up Munster half-century.


Munster: Crotty, Kelly, Mullins, Holland, Horgan, O'Gara, Prendergast, Horan, Sheahan, P. Clohessy, Galwey, M. O'Driscoll, Williams, Quinlan, Foley.
Replacements: Cahill, Blaney, O'Callaghan, McMahon, Staunton, Hegarty, J. O'Neill.

Harlequins: D. Slemen, Moore, Greenwood, Burrows, Luger, Burke, Duncombe, Starr, Roddam, Dawson, Morgan, Davison, White-Cooper, Tamarua, Diprose.
Replacements: Douglas, Olver, Codling, Alesbrook, M. Powell, Mapletoft, Jewell.

Referee: Stefano Mancini (Italy).

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