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Munster will overcome O'Connell blow: De Villiers Cavendish withdrawn after salute Stunning Meegan takes 800m gold Verdasco roars on in Rome Masters Gasol closes out for champs Lakers

RUGBY: Jean de Villiers is confident Munster will prevail in San Sebastian despite the crucial absence of captain Paul O'Connell to injury. O'Connell has been ruled out of the Heineken Cup semi-final against Biarritz with the groin problem sustained at the end of the RBS Six Nations.

But South Africa centre De Villiers insists Mick O'Driscoll will prove an able deputy as they prepare for a repeat of the 2006 final, which the Irish province edged 23-19.

"Of course Paul will be missed. He's a great player, a great leader. But we have the players and experience to cope," he said. "One of the things I have learned through my career is that everyone can be replaced. Mick's been fantastic in the role he's played alongside Donncha O'Callaghan and the leadership abilities he's shown."

Woods misses cut at Quail Hollow

GOLF: Tiger Woods missed only the sixth cut of his professional career last night and admitted he would spend the weekend watching "how real players play golf".

The world No1 failed to make it to the final two rounds of the Quail Hollow Championship in Charlotte. He shot a 79 to finish up nine over par for his two rounds, and will now bid to pick up the pieces at The Players Championship in Florida next week.

JP Hayes shot the best round of the day with a 64 to take him into a share of third place alongside, among others, new Masters champion Phil Mickelson.

Meanwhile, former English amateur champion Foster was one behind Swede Johan Edfors entering the third round of the Spanish Open in Seville. Alongside Foster is 1,272nd-ranked Majorcan Sebi Garcia-Grout. Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie had eight shots to make up when he resumed on two under, while Darren Clarke squeezed into the closing two rounds on level par.

Cavendish withdrawn after salute

cycling: Mark Cavendish was last night withdrawn from the Tour de Romandie by his HTC-Columbia team following the two-fingered salute which accompanied his second win of the season on Thursday.

Yesterday, Australian Michael Rogers seized the overall lead after the third-stage individual time-trial yesterday, while little-known compatriot Richie Porte won the day's laurels. Ireland's Nicolas Roche finished in 49th place and drops down the overall placings to 34th. Meanwhile, David McCann retained his overall lead in the Jelajah Malaysia on the penultimate stage over 93.1km.

Stunning Meegan takes 800m gold

swimming: Dubliner Andrew Meegan produced a stunning performance to win gold in the 800m freestyle at the Irish long course championships in the National Aquatic Centre.

Tennessee-based Barry Murphy won his 100m breaststroke semi-final in 1.03.10, qualifying fastest for today's final and he will be hoping to dip under 1:02.47 in order to qualify for the European Championships in Budapest this summer. Dolphin's Sean Leahy claimed the men's 400m medley title ahead of Castlebar's Nicholas Quinn and Meegan.

Verdasco roars on in Rome Masters

tennis: Fernando Verdasco extended his impressive form on clay with a gruelling 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 win over Novak Djokovic in the Rome Masters quarter-finals yesterday. The sixth-seeded Verdasco has reached the final of his last two events, losing to Rafael Nadal at the Monte Carlo Masters and winning last week's Barcelona Open. In the semi-finals Verdasco will face David Ferrer, who cruised past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-1. Nadal beat Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4 6-1 to advance to the semi-finals.

Gasol closes out for champs Lakers

NBA: Champions LA Lakers had Pau Gasol to thank as they continued the defence of their title by closing out their Western Conference first round play-off series against the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2.

NBA playoffs: Utah 112 Denver 104 (Utah win best-of-seven series 4-2), Oklahoma City 94 LA Lakers 95 (LA win best-of-seven series 4-2), Milwaukee 69 Atlanta 83 (best-of-seven series tied at 3-3)

MLB: Chicago Cubs 11 Arizona 5 Baltimore 5 Boston 4, NY Yankees 6 Chicago White Sox 4, Cleveland 3 Minnesota 9, Detroit 10 LA Angels 6, Philadelphia 1 NY Mets 9, Toronto 10 Oakland 2, Tampa Bay 2 Kansas City 3, Florida 1 Washington 7, Atlanta 4 Houston 2, San Diego 3 Milwaukee 0, LA Dodgers 6 Pittsburgh 2, San Francisco 5 Colorado 2