Earls the difference as Munster book Euro semi spot
CHAMPIONS CUP: Munster will play in a record 14th European Cup semifinal next month after defeating Edinburgh 17-13 in a thrilling Champions Cup quarterfinal on Saturday at Murrayfield.
Two tries from 31-year-old wing Keith Earls proved to be the difference between the two sides in a last-eight clash that made for compulsive viewing in the Scottish capital.
The Irish province were penned inside their own 22 for the opening six minutes as Edinburgh went close on several occasions but the visitors forced a crucial turnover, allowing flyhalf Joey Carbery to clear upfield.
Munster then went down to 14 men after Tadhg Beirne was penalised close to his own tryline. However, they saw off that period of pressure and grabbed the opening try on 18 minutes.
The away side won a penalty from their own scrum and it was quickly taken by veteran wing Keith Earls who zoomed past two Edinburgh defenders for a delightful enterprising try. Carbery – who would be replaced before half-time – slotted over the conversion.
Edinburgh dominated the rest of the first half and hit back with a try of their own on 25 minutes. Huge drives from No.8 Viliame Mata and prop Pierre Schoeman forced gaps in the Munster line and centre Chris Dean took full advantage by powering over the tryline.
The visitors would then another give up another penalty inside their own 22 and this time the Scottish side took aim at the posts. Van der Walt – who was flawless from the kicking tee – made no mistake.
Six minutes into the second half, Munster were level after they lost possession while advantage was being played. Replacement flyhalf Tyler Bleyendaal coolly slotted between the posts.
Van der Walt would add another three points after Edinburgh’s outstanding scrum won another penalty but the Scottish side could not hold onto that advantage.
It was Earls that again proved to be the match-winner for Munster. They showed brilliant fast hands to work across the line, finding the wing who powered towards the corner and dived over the try line to give the Irish province the lead, while Bleyendaal would again make no mistake from the tee.
In the final phases, Edinburgh battled to scored the match-winning try but knocked on as time elapsed. Munster will play in their 14th European Cup semi-final against either Saracens or Glasgow Warriors.
Con: Van der Walt
Pens: Van der Walt 2
Tries: Earles 2
Cons: Carbery, Bleyendaal
Yellow card: Tadhg Beirne (Munster, 10)
Edinburgh: 15 Darcy Graham, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Magnus Bradbury, 20 Jamie Ritchie, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Mark Bennett
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jack O’Donoghue, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Dan Goggin.
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France)
Assistant referees: Ludovic Cayre (France), Jonathan Dufort (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)