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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 November 2007, 19:14 GMT
Wasps 24-23 Munster
By Bryn Palmer

Wasps fly-half Dan Cipriani takes on the Munster defence
Fly-half Dan Cipriani played a decisive hand for Wasps

Wasps 24 (13)
Tries: Flutey, Skivington
Con: Cipriani
Pens: Cipriani 4

Munster 23 (20)
Tries: Tipoki, Payne
Cons: O'Gara 2
Pens: O'Gara 3

Defending champions Wasps twice came from 10 points down to prevail over 2006 champions Munster in a gripping Heineken Cup pool clash in Coventry.

After an early exchange of penalties, Rua Tipoki's converted try put Munster 13-3 up, but Riki Flutey's converted try levelled matters on the half-hour.

Shaun Payne's try gave the Irish province a 20-13 half-time lead.

But Dan Cipriani landed two penalties, George Skivington's try put Wasps ahead and they held on in a frantic finale.

It was a rousing encounter that, while not reaching the dazzling heights of their epic 2004 semi-final, provided tremendous entertainment for a crowd of 21,506, swelled by plenty of Munster fans, at Coventry's Ricoh Arena.

Ronan O'Gara, putting his World Cup nightmare firmly behind him, tested the Wasps defence with a series of high kicks and probing grubbers which yielded a penalty after five minutes which the fly-half stroked over.

Cipriani swiftly levelled with one of his own but O'Gara continued to move the hosts around and kicked a second penalty before Munster split the Wasps defence wide open.

Lefeimi Mafi raced onto O'Gara's flat pass straight between Flutey and Fraser Waters, and a simple off-load put Tipoki in under the posts, giving O'Gara an easy conversion.

Ten points adrift, Wasps launched an immediate riposte as Paul Sackey stepped inside two tacklers to release Cipriani, but the pass was adjudged forward and the try disallowed.

Wasps were not denied for long though. Cipriani landed his second penalty to make it 13-6 before Eoin Reddan's box-kick yielded an equalising try on the half-hour.

Munster wing Anthony Horgan made a hash of collecting it and Flutey was onto the loose ball in a flash, avoiding O'Gara's desperate dive to streak away.

Cipriani's conversion levelled it at 13-13 and Munster endured a torrid 10 minutes as Wasps upped the ante, but Sackey was unable to ground the ball after taking a quick tap penalty.

Full-back Shaun Payne scores Munster's second try against Wasps
Shaun Payne's try put Munster 20-13 up at half-time
Under the cosh, Munster rallied superbly and hit back with the last move of the half.

O'Gara's precise grubber unhinged Wasps' rush defence and Payne, recalled to the side after being made team manager this season, pounced in the left corner, O'Gara converting.

Suitably stung, Wasps started the second half at a great lick but found themselves 10 points down again as O'Gara landed his third penalty.

But two Cipriani penalties, the second after Munster prop Marcus Horan was sin-binned for coming in the side of a ruck, brought Wasps to within four points.

And they profited from the man advantage with a sweeping move to take the lead, Flutey's dynamic break and Tom Voyce's pass allowing lock Skivington to stretch over.

That ensured a nervous final quarter, with both sets of fans left biting their nails through five minutes of injury-time.

But Munster were unable to generate a scoring position as Wasps held on for a vital victory in a devilishly difficult group, the Irish marauders having to settle for a bonus point.

Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio:
"There were two champions fighting it out; Munster threw everything at us and we were on the ropes at times.

"But we showed we can hold it together even when we go 10 points behind and we kept our discipline at the end there.

"If that is an omen for the rest of this group it is going to be very tough. It will be another ding-dong battle at Llanelli next week and every game is a mouthwatering prospect."

Wasps rugby director Ian McGeechan:
"To come back twice from those deficits was a big call from the team, but we felt we probably blew 15 or 20 points in the first half."

Munster flanker and man-of-the-match Alan Quinlan:
"We knew we couldn't get carried away when we were ahead because they are a quality side and a few mistakes cost us.

"We are absolutely gutted. We were very confident we could come here and win so we are really disappointed.

"But we were beaten in our first match by Sale the year we won it (2006), and at least we have a bonus point. We have to bounce back (against Clermont Auvergne) next week."

Munster fly-half Ronan O'Gara:
"It was a game I felt we left behind. It could have been a big, big win for us, and I don't think many people would have been complaining if we had won."

Wasps: Van Gisbergen; Sackey, Waters, Flutey, Voyce; Cipriani, Reddan; Payne, Ibanez, Adams, Shaw, Skivington, Haskell, Rees, Dallaglio (capt).
Replacements: Ward, Holford, Birkett, Hart, Leo, Amor, Hoadley.

Munster: Payne; Carney, Tipoki, Mafi, Horgan; O'Gara (capt), Stringer; Horan, Flannery, Hayes; O'Callaghan, O'Driscoll; Quinlan, Wallace, Leamy.
Replacements: Sheahan, Buckley, Foley, Paringatai, O'Leary, Warwick, Lewis.

Heineken Cup 2007/8
23 May 07 |  Rugby Union
Wasps 29-26 Gloucester
04 Nov 07 |  Rugby Union
Munster 19-16 Edinburgh
03 Nov 07 |  Munster


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