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The Saturday wrap: Leinster and Munster cruise into semi-finals

Charlie Talbot-Smith

2 Apr 2017

Leinster and Munster sit first and second in the Guinness PRO12 and on Saturday they both continued their fine seasons with comprehensive European Champions Cup quarter-final victories.

Leinster downed Wasps at the Aviva Stadium before Munster took down Toulouse, although it was less good news in the Challenge Cup as Cardiff Blues went down to defeat against Gloucester Rugby.

  • First-half tries from Isa Nacewa, Jack Conan and Robbie Henshaw put Leinster way out in front against Wasps in Dublin
  • Joey Carbery scooped the man of the match champagne for his performance and – after Christian Wade and Jimmy Gopperth threatened a Wasps comeback – Fergus McFadden sealed a 32-17 win
  • Then at Thomond Park a fast start from John Ryan set up Munster for an impressive 41-16 win over Toulouse
  • Second-half scores from CJ Stander, Darren Sweetnam and Andrew Conway sealed the victory and a semi-final on home soil
  • Alex Cuthbert’s double was in vain for Cardiff Blues as Gloucester – Challenge Cup winners in 2015 – ran in six tries to see off the Welsh region

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen singled out his full-back Carbery for special praise after the No.15 ran for 200m and made two of Leinster’s four tries:

“Joey is brave, very brave. We’ll go through the game with him, he is hungry to learn and eager to get better. It was a good performance, I’m delighted,” he said.

“He’s 21, it has all come very quickly for him. He stays grounded and hopefully he will have a big part to play. “Having him as a second receiver certainly takes some of the pressure off Jonathan Sexton.”

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus after his side’s clinical display proved too much for Toulouse.

“First of all, to get the win is fantastic. I think if you look tactically and technically there was a good 40 minutes and then a bad 15 to 20 minutes and finally a good four to five minutes,” he said. “It wasn’t perfect, but it is a win against a world class team, so we are fairly happy.

“Within 15 or 20 minutes the penalty count was 5-2 in our favour and then we managed to turn it around I think 5-6 for them. I wouldn’t say a discipline problem on our behalf, I would say an over-eagerness problem, especially at the breakdown. If over-eagerness is a problem, then it is not a bad problem.”

But Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson admits his side will need to put the second-half performance against Gloucester behind them when they return to Guinness PRO12 action.

“For 50 minutes of the game, we were really good and should have been further ahead,” said Wilson.

“What unfolded in the next 15-20 minutes was unacceptable.

“Gloucester finished well but I’m incredibly frustrated at the way we collapsed.

“Sport throws you curve balls and that has thrown me, or us, a massive curveball in terms of what happened in that last 15-20 minute period.

“We’ve got to look at that and build on the positives from the 50 minutes and the rugby we were playing and look and try and find out why we ended up as we did and, if I’m brutally honest, as mentally weak as we looked in that last 30 minutes.”

 Guinness PRO12 Final 2017, 27th May, Aviva Stadium, Dublin. 
Ticket Information: Fans can still avail of an exclusive number of €35 tickets. Book via www.ticketmaster.ie. Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final