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Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Curse of the European Cup: Munster knock Harlequins out of the title chase

A beautiful day at the Stoop in Twickenham was not enough to see Harlequins into the last four of the European Cup.

The home side kicked-off proceedings and within seconds they attacked a line-out just short of the Munster try-line. The visitors, however, threw long, secured the ball and kicked into touch.

Munster then stole Quins’ line-out ball but knocked-on giving a scrum to the home side still within the visitor's 22.

It was fed quickly and a good push from Quins earned them a penalty within 3 minutes. The stadium erupted after being deadly silent – good respect of the kicker from all 15,000 spectators. Quins took the lead through Evans: Harlequins 3 – 0 Munster.

On the restart Munster made a nuisance of themselves; O’Gara opted for the posts after Quins were penalised in the 6th minute. However at this stage of the game the posts were supporting the home side; keeping the ball out.

The visitors regrouped and fast footwork forced strong tackles from the home side, until a knock-on halted Munster’s progress.

Good passing by Quins saw them move back into Munster’s half but it was short-lived after being penalised for holding-on.  They were not punished by the visitors on this occasion as Munster knocked-on in the line-out which followed. The resulting scrum allowed Quins to clear.

Yet the home side were penalised again, this time for knocking-on.  The visitors chose to play the advantage, sending the ball long for a line-out in the Quins’ 22.  This attacking play came to nothing as Quins won the ball and a later mistake by Munster sent the ball dead for a Quins scrum back in Munster’s half.

Strong work in the maul which followed earned Harlequins a kick between the posts in the 14th minute but Evans sent it wide.

It was not long before Munster were back in the Quins’ territory.  Munster earned a throw-in just short of the 10 metre line but knocked-on.

Quins decided to play the advantage, running the ball up to Munster’s 22 where they were awarded a penalty after Munster failed to release the tackled player. Evans again went for the posts in the 19th minute. A solid strike doubled Harlequins’ lead.

The restart was kicked long but Care sent it safely into touch. Munster claimed the ball and started a rolling maul. Advantage given, they attempted a drop goal but it was blocked sending play back to the original infringement. Again O’Gara pulled it left of the posts in the 22nd minute.

The visitors again earned themselves a scrum in the Quins’ half, but the home side tackled well not allowing Munster to run. However Quins again found themselves penalised for illegal handling in the ruck. O’Gara secured the first points for Munster in the 25th minute.

A knock-on in the restart by the visitors gave advantage to Quins. The resulting scrum turned into a penalty after Munster pulled round the maul. Evans went for the posts in the 29th minute adding another 3 points.

It was not long before Munster had the opportunity for some more points of their own; Care was penalised for holding on, allowing O’Gara to kick for a line-out on the Quins’ 10 metre line. Munster attempted another drop goal after being awarded advantage; and were brought back for the penalty kick which O’Gara delivered in the 34th minute.

More misery for Quins followed as Monye again knocked-on the restart, handing a scrum to Munster. This turned into a line-out deep in Quins’ territory after they were penalised. This was taken well by Munster who started a maul. O’Gara made the decision to send the ball high but this allowed Monye to catch and call the mark.

This was but brief respite as Munster fought fiercely for the ball, attacking the ruck. Quins were again penalised for holding on. Luckily for the home side, time was against Munster and so the ball was kicked out to end the first half.

Half Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 9 – 6 Munster

Munster started the second half with a long kick taken well by Care who sent it back to the half way line. The visitor’s secured line-out ball and started to penetrate Quins’ defence.

O’Gara drew the scores within the 3rd minute of second-half play through a penalty.

On the restart Munster pushed hard for the try-line. Quins got a line-out on their own 22 but Munster stole possession, pushing further up the field. O’Gara took an easy penalty kick in front of the posts and Munster finally lead the game after 46 minutes.

All the pressure was now coming from Munster who it seemed had a good talking to over the half time break. O’Gara lined up another penalty kick and pulled Munster 6 points clear in the 49th minute.

It worsened for Quins as Munster stole the ball from their ruck, proceeding to the Quins’ 22. The home side seemed to have no answer to the onslaught. However just when it looked like Munster were aiming for try, George Lowe made a timely interception, stopping the visitors’ advancement for the time being.

It seemed Quins were starting to push the visitors back. Strength in numbers from Munster, however, brought the ball back up field. O’Gara then sent the ball through the defence and Brown, on trying to allow the ball to go dead, found himself under pressure.

In the 55th minute Munster got another scrum through a knock-on. Knowing an advantage was being played, they kicked overhead to allow a chase for a try. Care, however, saw the danger and guided the ball into the dead zone. Nothing lost for Munster who were brought back for a penalty kick. O’Gara’s boot was now firing true, pulling Munster 9 points clear.

A long restart from Quins earned them a line-out on the Munster’s 10 metre line, but tempers became heated after another refereeing decision went against an attacking home side. Quins were then penalised in the scrum which followed for not hitting straight. At this point Robshaw spoke to the referee for clarification on what they were doing wrong.

Munster retained the ball on the half way line and sent the ball high. Monye again collected and it was the turn of the visitors to be penalised, allowing Evans to clear.

A quick line-out was taken by Quins and Munster were again penalised in the maul that followed. Evans opted for a long line-out in Munster’s 22. There was fast play by the home side but a thumping tackle knocked the ball on. Munster kicked long into touch. Quins won the line-out ball on the half way line and chose to run it deep, earning a penalty in front of the posts. Evans pulled the home side 3 points closer.

Munster on this occasion opted for a short restart which allowed them to chase. However a knock-on gave Quins the put-in at the scrum. It was well fed and out quickly, however play which followed returned possession to the visitors through a forward pass.

A further line-out saw Munster get a maul moving. Despite this Quins worked hard for a scrum, which escalated to a penalty after the visitors collapsed it. The home side opted for a line-out which they won.  They chose to run it needing a converted try for any hope of progressing into the semi-final.

Luck was not on their side as Quins found themselves penalised in the ruck and O’Gara kicked for a line-out back in Quins’ territory. The home side thought they had stolen the ball but play was halted for a Munster scrum.

The visitors pushed onwards but Quins earned a scrum on their 22. The ball was sent out to the wing but after a bit of juggling through a loose pass was knocked-on for Munster to claim possession with less than one minute of play left.

Munster knocked Quins out of the European cup; the home side failing to make it past the quarter final stage yet again.

Full Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 12 – 18 Munster

posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 10:21 pm  

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