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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 January 2007, 14:54 GMT
Bourgoin 27-30 Munster
Peter Stringer
Munster did not get the easy ride they might have expected

Bourgoin: (15) 27
Tries: Bonnaire, Bousses, Nicolas 2
Cons: Laloo 2
Pens: Laloo

Munster: (20) 30
Tries: Horan, penalty, Mafi
Cons: O'Gara 3
Pens: O'Gara 3

Munster were made to work unexpectedly hard to book their place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals with a narrow victory over Bourgoin on Sunday.

Bourgoin were expected to roll over but put in a superb display to push the defending champions desperately close.

A penalty try and Marcus Horan's score put Munster 20-15 up at the break, but bad errors undermined their efforts.

Bourgoin's fourth try with five minutes left gave Munster some anxious moments before the final whistle came.

Four straight Heineken Cup defeats, including a 57-3 thrashing by Leicester in their last European game made it all the more surprising when Bourgoin decided to turn on the style at their temporary home of the Stade de Geneve.

Straight from kick-off, Munster embarked on a ferocious surge without finding their way through but Bourgoin withstood the pressure before opening the scoring through Sebastien Laloo's long-range penalty.

Munster were grateful for the chance to level matters through Ronan O'Gara's penalty, but the fly-half, who did not enjoy the best of games, was responsible for the next Bourgoin points.

His aimless chip was collected on the full and Salesi Finau chipped through for number eight Julien Bonnaire to control the bouncing ball and score.

Ronan O'Gara
O'Gara was not at his imperious best for Munster

After another O'Gara penalty, Munster got their noses in front with a superbly taken try from Horan.

Delicate handling from Barry Murphy and David Wallace put Horan into space on the wing, and the prop showed remarkable pace to dive over in the corner.

But the try encouraged Munster to run the ball unnecessarily, and Horan - being asked to give and take a pass in a split second - found himself stopped by Finau and the ball broke loose for Guillaume Bousses to score under the posts.

Munster went back to basics and an improved line-out set up their penalty try as their well-organised rolling maul was stopped by players coming in at the side.

Bourgoin flanker Brice Monzeglio was yellow carded for his troubles, but just before the break his team-mate Yann David was unlucky to have a try ruled out for a shove.

A missed O'Gara penalty at the start of the second half set the tone for a nightmare few minutes for the Ireland fly-half.

He had a clearing kick charged down which almost led to a Bourgoin try and fired out a series of misplaced passes, including one which bounced off Lifeimi's head.

Bourgoin's impressive substitute Matthieu Nicolas danced around Ian Dowling before powering through Peter Stringer's tackle to level the scores.

A tense period ensued before Shaun Payne, breaking straight through the middle, found Mafi on his shoulder to score under the posts.

A long-range O'Gara kick took Munster 10 points clear, but there was still time for Matthieu to embarrass the Munster defence by slicing straight through off first-phase possession.

Munster attacked the Bourgoin line before the end, but the Irish side were glad to hear the final whistle.

  • Munster's Ronan O'Gara:
    "It was looking hairy for a while but I felt we did enough to deserve the win.

    "It was a tough finish but I didn't think we were going to lose the game at any stage.

    "The scores they got, we really gifted them; they got their tries directly from our own errors.

    "To gift them those scores was really disappointing and it's something we're going to have to look at before the Leicester game."

    Bourgoin: Denos, David, Bousses, Coetzee, Finau, Laloo, Parra, Milloud, Vigneaux, Cardinali, Williams, Pierre, Monzeglio, Jooste, Bonnaire.
    Replacements: Khinchagishvili, Sourgens, Del-Fava, Rennie, Carmona, Coux, Nicolas.

    Munster: Payne, Kelly, Murphy, Mafi, Dowling, O'Gara, Stringer, Horan, Sheahan, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, O'Driscoll, Wallace, Leamy.
    Replacements: Flannery, Pucciariello, Coughlan, Foley, O'Leary, Manning, Cullen.

    Referee: M Changleng (Gala)

    Munster 32-18 Blues
    16 Dec 06 |  Munster
    Leicester 57-3 Bourgoin
    16 Dec 06 |  Leicester
    Blues 12-22 Munster
    10 Dec 06 |  Cardiff Blues
    Munster 41-23 Bourgoin
    28 Oct 06 |  Munster
    Leicester 19-21 Munster
    22 Oct 06 |  Leicester


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