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Munster show their mettle

Sunday 2nd April 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 02/04/2006 19:08

- 02/04/2006 19:08

Shane Horgan and Malcolm O’Kelly will make their 100th Leinster appearances for the province in the All-Ireland clash. Horgan is the only change to the side that defeated the Llanelli Scarlets 30-22 last weekend.
He returns to replace Rob Kearney who has been named amongst a strong replacements bench that will be reduced closer to kick off and includes Eric Miller, Niall Ronan, David Blaney, Ronan McCormack, Emmett Byrne, Brian O’Riordan and Kieran Lewis.
The side will be captained by Brian O’Driscoll who partners Gordon D’Arcy at centre. In the pack, Reggie Corrigan lines up alongside Brian Blaney and Will Green while O’Kelly will be partnered by Bryce Williams in the second row.

And Munster are sweating on the fitness of key scrum-half Peter Stringer for the all-Ireland Heineken Cup semi-final.

“Peter took a knock on his leg and I am concerned for him,” said Munster coach Declan Kidney. “We’ll see how he is when he wakes up in the morning, but we’ll give him to the last minute before making any decisions.

“We also have Mike Prendergast and Frank Murphy with us, and they are both raring to go.”

Leinster coach Michael Chieka reported a clean bill of health from his squad as Leinster bid to reach their first Heineken Cup final and qualify for the showpiece match in Cardiff on May 20.

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Munster show their mettle

Sunday 2nd April 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 02/04/2006 19:08

- 02/04/2006 19:08

Ronan O’Gara scored 20 points as Munster brushed aside Irish rivals Leinster at a packed Lansdowne Road in Dublin on Sunday.

Munster skipper Anthony Foley celebrated his 75th Heineken Cup match with a powerful performance to propel his side into the Cup final against Biarritz Olympique in Cardiff on Saturday, May 20.

O’Gara kicked regular goals to keep his side in front throughout, and his 80th-minute try was just reward for a fine performance.

Munster went straight on to the attack from the kick-off, and O’Gara opened the scoring with a penalty goal in only the second minute. A Paul O’Connell steal at a Leinster lineout set up a royal try-scoring opportunity and backrower Denis Leamy was shoved over the line to extend his side’s lead.

The visitors lost centre John Kelly to a shoulder injury after 15 minutes, and Leinster gradually got back into the game. Fly-half Felipe Contepomi kicked a penalty goal from in front, but the good work was undone when O’Connell was taken out at a lineout and O’Gara converted the penalty.

A controversial decision to penalise Contepomi gave O’Gara the chance to slot his fourth goal of the match, and Contepomi’s poor game got considerably worse when he dragged a simple shot at goal well wide.

The Munster-dominated crowd started a fourth rendition of “Fields of Athenry”
as their side took a 16-3 lead into the final exchanges of the first half, and that remained the score as a late O’Gara attempt sneaked past the wrong side of the upright.

Contepomi had the first chance to open the second-half scoring, but his angled attempt hit a post, and it seemed to sum up Leinster’s afternoon as their opponents dominated territory and possession in the third quarter.

Kelly’s replacement, Rob Henderson, limped off after 65 minutes, and Contepomi narrowed the margin to 10 points with a point-blank penalty goal. Munster prop Federico Pucciarello was sin-binned for repeated infringements, but Contepomi’s kick was wide and Munster fans began planning their trip to Cardiff.

Munster attacked until the final whistle and they were rewarded when O’Gara brushed off some tired tackle attempts to score behind the posts. His conversion seemed to have sealed a famous victory, but Munster weren’t finished yet. Centre Trevor Halstead intercepted a Leinster attack and ran 70 metres for the final try of the game.

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