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Champions Cup

WATCH: Munster Beat Chiefs in Hard Fought Battle – Report & Highlights

Exeter Chiefs fall short in their quest for history

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster came out on top of a Heineken Champions Cup epic encounter against the Exeter Chiefs in Thomond Park on Saturday to progress to the quarter-finals.

The win means they finished top of their pool but have been rewarded with a tough last eight match away to Edinburgh.

Exeter were looking to become the first team to be winless after the first three pool games and still qualify and knew that if they won and denied Munster a bonus point, they would advance.

Munster started well with last weekend’s man of the match Joey Carbery slotting home an early 6th minute penalty to settle the nerves.

However, seven minutes later, and after some great work in the opposition 22, Chiefs back rower Dan Armond bundled his way over from the back of a ruck for the only try of the game.

That was converted and the Chiefs led 7-3 by the 14th minute.

Come the 22nd minute Carbery took stuck another penalty over the bar to make it 7-6 in the Chiefs favour.

Exeter had a couple of opportunities from penalties to take three points and extend their lead before but decided to take their approach from the Premiership and go for full marks, each time failing to score.

It remained a one-point game right up until the 72nd minute when Carbery continued is fine form from the tee and scored a penalty to hand Munster a two-point advantage heading into the final minutes.

The Chiefs continued to fight right to the end, even in the 80th minute they had 22 phases until being tackled into touch resulting in a 9-7 win for Munster and knocking Exeter out.

After the game Munster’s Niall Scannell reflected on one of the toughest games, he has ever played in.

“Probably test match level rugby”, he said in an interview admitting it was tiring even watching from the bench after being substituted.

The win was overshadowed by injuries to Tadhg Beirne, Andrew Conway and Tommy O’Donnell. With man of the match Beirne now set to miss Ireland’s opening two matches of the 6 Nations.

A trip to Edinburgh awaits, in the clubs 18th European Champions Cup quarter-final appearance, but they will hope to have a full squad available before heading to Scotland.

Match Highlights below:

Champions Cup

Leinster v Toulouse: Line-ups revealed.

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Leinster:

The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to play Toulouse in Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup Semi-Final in the Aviva Stadium has been named by Head Coach Leo Cullen (Kick Off: 3.15pm – live on Virgin Media, BT Sport, Channel 4 & RTÉ Radio).

Cullen has made a number of changes from the team that played last weekend against Glasgow Warriors with captain Johnny Sexton back from injury having recovered from a quad injury.

Elsewhere in the backs Rob Kearney again starts at full back, Jordan Larmour is again on the right wing but James Lowe comes in on the left.

In the centre Robbie Henshaw is again selected but is joined this week by Garry Ringrose.

In the half backs the aforementioned Sexton, is partnered by Luke McGrath.

In the pack only Devin Toner and Seán O’Brien are retained from last week with Cian Healy, Seán Cronin and Tadhg Furlong starting in the front row, with Toner and James Ryan behind them in the second row.

Rhys Ruddock is selected at blindside with O’Brien again at openside and finally Jack Conan at number eight.

Toulouse:

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Champions Cup

Saracens v Munster: Line-Ups revealed.

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Saracens:

George Kruis will make his 50th European appearance this weekend when Saracens take on Munster in the Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals.
The second row made his debut in the competition back in the 2010/11 season and was instrumental in Sarries’ back-to-back successes.

Scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth’s long-awaited return from injury will see him reach a century of games in Europe from the bench.

Captain Brad Barritt has recovered from an ankle injury to slot back in at inside centre alongside Alex Lozowski.

The duo, and Kruis, are three of 10 changes to the starting XV that suffered defeat at Bristol Bears last weekend.

Liam Williams comes back in on the wing while Ben Spencer and Owen Farrell are the half-back pairing.

USA international Titi Lamositele keeps his place in the front row and is joined by Mako Vunipola – his first Sarries appearance since January – and Jamie George.

Maro Itoje partners Kruis in the boiler and Billy Vunipola starts at Number 8.

Saracens team to face Munster in the Heineken Champions Cup semi-final at the Ricoh Arena (KO 15H00):
FORWARDS: Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Titi Lamositele, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Mike Rhodes, Jackson Wray, Billy Vunipola.

BACKS: Alex Goode, Sean Maitland, Alex Lozowski, Brad Barritt, Liam Williams, Owen Farrell, Ben Spencer.

REPLACEMENTS: Joe Gray, Richard Barrington, Vincent Koch, Will Skelton, Schalk Burger, Richard Wigglesworth, Nick Tompkins, David Strettle.

Munster:

Head Coach Johann van Graan has named the Munster side for Saturday’s record 14th Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens at the Ricoh Arena (3pm, live on BT Sport and beIN Sports).

There are 12 changes to the side that earned an impressive win away to Benetton in Italy last weekend as Mike Haley, Darren Sweetnam and Jack O’Donoghue keep their places.

Munster captain Peter O’Mahony leads the side on his 50th Champions Cup appearance. O’Mahony has started each of his 49 appearances in the competition to date, including all 23 of the province’s Champions Cup games over the last three seasons.

Haley starts at full-back with Andrew Conway and Sweetnam on either flank.

Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell form the centre partnership with Conor Murray and Tyler Bleyendaal in the half-backs.

Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan pack down in the front row with Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne in the engine room.

O’Mahony, O’Donoghue and CJ Stander complete the starting XV.

Keith Earls misses out due to injury having failed to make it through this week’s training.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Arno Botha, Alby Mathewson, JJ Hanrahan, Dan Goggin.

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Champions Cup

Referees confirmed for European Cup semi-finals

Men in the middle confirmed.

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Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images

This weekend, domestic rugby takes a break for the European Semi Final Showdowns.

Saracens take on Munster in the Ricoh Arena at 3pm on Saturday.

Jérome Garcès has been selected to take charge of that game with assistant referees Romain Poite and Mathieu Raynal and TMO Philippe Bonhoure completing the all French officiating team.

Saracens secured their spot in the semis with a resounding 56-27 win over Glasgow Warriors at Allianz Park while Munster pipped Edinburgh with a narrow win to secure their spot.

Saturday 20th April

HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP
Saracens v Munster Rugby (Ricoh Arena, 3pm)
Referee: Jérome Garcès (Fra)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (Fra), Mathieu Raynal (Fra)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (Fra)

Sunday 21st April

Leinster vs. Toulouse (Aviva Stadium 3pm)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)

Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (Eng), Matthew Carley (Eng)

TMO: Rowan Kitt (Eng)

EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP
La Rochelle v Sale Sharks (Stade Marcel Delfandre, 5.30pm)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wal)
Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse (Wal), Ian Davies (Wal)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ire)

ASM Clermont Auvergne v Harlequins
Referee: John Lacey (Ire)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (Ire), George Clancy (Ire)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ire)

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