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Saturday, 26 January, 2002, 17:02 GMT
Munster earn sweet revenge
Anthony Horgan's first half try came against the run of play
Anthony Horgan scores Munster's first half try
Stade Francais 14-16 Munster

Munster gained sweet revenge for the agonising Heinken Cup semi-final defeat by Stade Francais last season by claiming a nail-biting quarter-final win over the French side in Paris.

After wind advantage had helped Munster to a 16-3 interval lead, the Irish team battled bravely to hold on for a famous win against the star-studded French side.

Stade fought back to within two points of Munster with seven minutes of normal time left but the Irish side refused to yield further.

Munster needed to put points on the board in the first half given their strong wind advantage.

The early indications were not positive for the Irish side with Ronan O'Gara missing an kickable early penalty.

However, the Irish international outside half atoned for his earlier effort in the sixth minute by slamming over a penalty from just inside the Stade Francais half.

Stade Francais' Diego Dominguez scored nine points
Stade Francais outside half Diego Dominguez

Stade Francais responded quickly with a break which should have yielded a try.

However, winger Poulain, when deep in the Munster '22, elected to cut inside instead of finding his overlapping full-back Jonnet.

Munster's subsequent concession of a penalty wasn't punished as Dominguez didn't kick for goal because of the windy conditions.

Stade, despite playing against a gale in the first half, continued to put the Munster defence under intense pressure.

The Irish side conceded three penalties in quick succession for offside deep in their own '22 just before the quarter-hour.

Stade, however, were unable to turn the possession into points.

Stade indiscipline

Munster, on a rare foray into opposition territory, punished Stade in the 19th minute with Anthony Horgan splitting the defence to score a superb try which was converted by O'Gara.

Stade responded three minutes later with a Dominguez penalty from just inside the Munster '22.

O'Gara poached a superb drop-goal in the 24th minute when a Munster attack had seemed to have broken down.

Horgan was close to scoring another Munster try in the 34th minute but the charging winger was tackled five yards from the Stade line.

O'Gara punished Stade indiscipline in the 37th minute with a superb 45 metre penalty in the swirling conditions.

Stade, with the wind advantage, were always going to put in a huge effort early in the second half and so it proved.

O'Gara (r) hit 11 points for Munster
Ronan O'Gara (r) starred for Munster

The French side had already threatened the Munster line in the opening stages of the second period by the time Stade captain Christophe Juillet crossed for a try in the 46th minute.

It was a soft enough try with Juillet evading the attentions of his opposite number Anthony Foley after a ruck.

Munster responded with a burst into Stade territory which ended with winger John Kelly being bundled into touch when he seemed set to score a try in the corner.

But helped by the wind, Stade were by now clearly in the ascendancy.

Famous victory

Dominguez pegged back Munster's advantage to a precarious five points with a superb 55th minute penalty from near the left touchline.

But Stade's prospects then weren't helped by Pierre Rabadan being sent to the sin-bin after throwing a punch in a ruck.

Boosted by Rabadan's departure, Munster were then inches away from scoring a second try but O'Gara couldn't find Horgan with the vital pass.

Horgan had a great chance to close out the match 12 minutes from time after a superb O'Gara break but the winger failed to hold John Kelly's pass.

Dominguez's magnficent penalty from just inside his own half seven minutes from the end of normal time left only two points between the sides.

It could be the end of the dream for some of us
Stade captain Christophe Juillet

But despite intense Stade pressure in the closing moments, Munster held their nerve to achieve a famous victory.

The defeat was another blow for the French side's flamboyant owner Max Guazzini who has invested huge amount of money in the hope of the club landing the northern hemisphere's top trophy.

Prior to Saturday's match, Guazzini had already decided not to renew the contact of Aussie coach John Connolly.

Stade captain Christophe Juillet said his side had made "too many errors" in the first half.

"Conceding the try was crucial, though he should have been tackled," he said.

"It could be the end of the dream for some of us we are getting on a bit, but all I feel at the moment is deep deep disappointment," he added.

Stade Francais: S Jonnet; M Williams, F Comba, N Raffault, R Poulain; D Dominguez, F Galthie; S Marconnet, M Blin, P de Villiers; D Auradou, M James; R Martin, C Juillet (capt), P Rabadan. Replacements: B August, P Lemoine, H Chaffardon, C Moni.

Munster: D Crotty; J Kelly, R Henderson, J Holland, A Horgan; R O'Gara, P Stringer; P Clohessy, F Sheahan, J Hayes; M Galwey (capt), P O'Connell; J Williams, A Foley, D Wallace. Replacements: M Horan, J Blaney, M O'Driscoll, A Quinlan, M Prendergast, M Mullins, K Keane.

Referee: N Whitehouse (Wales).

Munster's Paul O'Connell
"It was unreal coming off the pitch at the end"
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