Friday 22 September 2017

Munster big winners on dramatic final day

Paul O'Connell on his way to scoring his side's fifth try despite the efforts of Jonathan Evans
Paul O'Connell on his way to scoring his side's fifth try despite the efforts of Jonathan Evans
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

MUNSTER were the big winners on and off the pitch after a dramatic final day of Guinness Pro12 rugby saw them secure a lucrative home semi-final against Ospreys at Thomond Park next Saturday.

Connacht did their neighbours a huge favour by limiting the Welsh region to three first-half tries at the Sportsground as they kept their season alive for another week by finishing seventh thanks to Leinster’s win over Edinburgh in Murrayfield.

The westerners will take on Gloucester in the play-off for the European Champions Cup at Kingsholm next Sunday, with the winners taking on the seventh placed French team a week later at home.

On an afternoon of twists and turns, understrength Ulster couldn’t stay with Glasgow Warriors and could live to regret their decision to rest their front-liners as they face a return to Scotstoun on Friday night.

Munster were the front-runners all day, securing a first-half bonus point in routing the Dragons and then enduring an anxious wait to see if Glasgow or Ospreys could respond.

Ospreys looked like they were on course, scoring three first-half tries to go into a 24-0 half-time lead, but Connacht rallied thanks to two Jack Carty penalties and an Eoghan Masterson try and the Welsh side’s focused switched to simply getting out of Galway with a win.

Meanwhile, Ulster’s second string had been in a nip and tuck battle with Glasgow but couldn’t hold on during a second-half that saw the Scots score the four tries they needed to gain home advantage.

It means Neil Doak’s men must win at the intimidating venue next Friday to book their place in the Belfast final.

Leinster, meanwhile, were operating on the margins of the day but needed to win if they were to hold of Scarlets for fifth place with the Welsh side coming from behind to beat Treviso in Italy.

Things looked ropey for Connacht when Edinburgh led with 10 minutes remaining, but tries from Jordi Murphy and Luke McGrath ensured Pat Lam’s men would live to fight another day.

How it finished

Glasgow 75

Munster 75

Ospreys 74

Ulster 69

Leinster 67

Scarlets 61

Connacht 50

Edinburgh 48

Next week’s fixtures

Guinness Pro12 semi-finals

Friday: Glasgow Warriors v Ulster, Scotstoun, 7.45

Saturday: Munster v Ospreys, Thomond Park, 2.30

Champions Cup play-off

Sunday: Gloucester v Connacht, Kingsholm, 3.0

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