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Champions Cup

Edinburgh v Munster: Player Ratings & Highlights.

Munster Snatch Late Win in Edinburgh

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

A late Keith Earls try ensured that Munster progressed to the Champions Cup semi-finals with a 17-13 win over Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield on Saturday afternoon.

The men in red will now face Saracens in the last four.

Edinburgh started the brighter of the two, going through the phases early and winning three penalties, each time going to the corner. However, Munster held strong to turn the ball over each time.

Ten minutes in and Tadhg Beirne was sent to the bin after preventing the home side from getting quick-ball away as they broke through the Edinburgh defence.

Munster not only managed to keep Edinburgh from scoring over the next 10 minutes but went ahead on 18 minutes when Keith Earls took a quick-tap and go inside the 22 and flew over.

Joey Carbery added the extras to make it 7-0.

On 26 minutes the electric Darcy Graham broke through the Munster defence and within seconds Chris Dean was over for a try. When Jaco Van Der Walt slotted over the additional two, the teams were level again.

A penalty seven minutes on for Edinburgh put them 10-7 up and things only got worse for the visitors as Carbery went off again with what looked like his hamstring injury flaring up once more.

That was the score at half-time as Edinburgh looked the more likely to go on to win.

Munster won a penalty early in the second-half which replacement Tyler Bleyendaal knocking it over to draw things level.

That lasted a mere four minutes as Van Der Walt hit a penalty for the hosts to put them 13-10 ahead with half an hour remaining.

That was how it stayed until the final 10 minutes when Earls got over for his second try of the game.

A swift move from Munster, started by Conor Murray, was finished unbelievably well by Earls, who dived over in the corner. Bleyendaal scored a difficult touch-line kick to make it 17-13 to Munster.

Despite almost four minutes of time after the 80 Edinburgh could not make the vital breakthrough as it stayed 17-13 and Munster progressed.

They will now face Saracens in the Champions Cup Semi Final.

Player Ratings

Edinburgh: Darcy Graham (7), Damien Hoyland (6), James Johnstone (6), Chris Dean (7), Duhan van der Merwe (6), Jaco Van Der Walt (7), Henry Pyrgos (5); Pierre Shoeman (6), Stuart McInally (7), WP Nel (6), Ben Toolis (6), Grant Gilchrist (6), John Barclay (6), Hamish Watson (6), Viliame Mata (7)

Replacements (6)

Munster: Andrew Conway (8), Darren Sweetnam (6), Chris Farrell (6), Rory Scannell (7), Keith Earls (9), Joey Carbery (6), Conor Murray (7); Dave Kilcoyne (7), Niall Scannell (7), John Ryan (7), Jean Kleyn (6), Tadhg Beirne (7), Peter O’Mahony (7), Jack O’Donoghue (6), CJ Stander (7)
Replacements (7)

Champions Cup

Munster Set to Announce New Attack Coach

It appears as though Munster may have found their replacement for Felix Jones

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Munster are almost certain to confirm Stephen Larkham as their new attack coach according to several Irish outlets.

The former Wallaby would be able to begin serving the reds straight away after being sacked from his position as Australia’s attack coach earlier in the year.

Larkham took up a role with the national performance coach adviser but would be available for work straight away.

He would become Munster’s second key coach signing in the past couple of weeks after the arrival of Graham Rowntree, who will take up the post of forwards coach with the province.

The former England and British & Irish Lions forwards coach is currently under contract with Georgia and will join up with Munster after the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup.

Rowntree and Larkham are being brought in to replace Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones respectively, who both parted ways with the club unexpectedly and left head coach Johann van Graan needing new blood.

If Larkham does put pen to paper on a deal it would be a big step in the right direction for Munster and after the doom and gloom of losing two coaches the future will look pretty bright to fans.

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Champions Cup

Cheika Recalls Leinster Training Sessions and Signing Isa Nacewa

Michael Cheika has discussed some of his more unusual training techniques and signing a Leinster legend

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(Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Former Leinster head coach and current Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has talked about some of his more unusual training techniques during his time in Ireland.

Cheika was in Dublin along with all involved with the 2009 Heineken Cup victory, to mark the 10-year anniversary of the provinces first European Cup.

Speaking at a dinner to mark the occasion Cheika revealed that he used to get involved in the contact training sessions and that players had no idea what to do to him.

“I think I was mid-thirties and I would jump into training – the contact (sessions). The blokes didn’t know whether to bash me or what to do,” he said.

However, that all changed once Jamie Heaslip took it upon himself to make his presence known with the head coach.

“It wasn’t until Heaslip took me one that it turned into a free for all. Everyone wanted to belt me! It was just the idea that you had to have a bit of edge. I’m not going to say I thought it with some great strategy – it’s just who I am. Hopefully that rubbed off to one person and they liked that, and then it rubbed off onto another person. Tactics and techniques all came later,” he added.

Cheika was joined on stage by Leinster legends Brian O’Driscoll and Shane Horgan while he talked about the different methods.

He went on to discuss the recruitment side of things and focused on Isa Nacewa who would turn out to be one of the best players the province has had.

“That guy was playing fly-half one week, wing the next, playing full-back, kicking goals from the side-line, running the show one minute, and never complaining. You never saw any bad body language and always enthusiastic about the game,” he continued.

Nacewa himself went on to talk about how the squad of 2009 was nothing like the squad to today.

“I don’t like to compare squads but when you compare 10 years ago to what it is now today, we were a bunch of misfits. It was the end of the old school era, if you could say that. So many characters in the team. It’s so awesome to be back and having a beer with them, which is pretty cool,” he said.

He noted that the semi-final win over rivals Munster was a highlight of his career within a season where the team as a whole performed at an average level in his eyes.

“If you actually look back on the season as a whole we lost a crap tonne of games. I don’t know how we got through really, but we dug it out. The Croke Park game in 2009 (against Munster) is one of the highlights of my career… you look back and think how important that day was. It was a bit of a milestone really, so that stands out in my eyes,” he added.

Although Leinster won their first European Cup 10-years ago, not many would have predicted how successful the club would become going on to win a further three cups already.

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6 Nations

Ireland Legend Signs Contract Extension

One of Ireland’s most decorated players has put pen to paper on a new contract

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(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The IRFU have confirmed that full-back Rob Kearney has agreed a nine-month extension to remain with Ireland and Leinster

There had been much speculation after Leinster head coach announced a list of contract renewals last week and Kearney’s name was missing however, all has been sorted and he will stay at Leinster for at least one more season.

Kearney is delighted to have been able to re-sign and admits he sees no reason to stop playing in the near future.

“I just played in two finals. I feel as if I am still playing pretty well. The coaches obviously feel that too. I fully love what I am doing. I am living a dream since I was a kid of five years of age. Why stop? The body is still good, the mind is still good. I’m still loving what I’m doing, I’m getting picked. I don’t see any reason why I should stop,” he said.

Next season will be Kearney’s 15th as a professional and although he considered moves abroad, he believes that he would have been taking a huge risk.

“So, all of a sudden if you do go somewhere else and then you are asking your body to train-play, train-play, you are taking a risk with it. You look at some of the games that the Premiership guys play and the French – they play a lot. We do get very well looked after here,” he added.

The 33-year-old picked up a fifth PRO 14 medal with Leinster on Saturday to add to his collection and said that medals keep him going but that the comradery within the squad is a massive part of what keeps him going.

“Every time you have one, you don’t want to be anywhere else in the world. You have worked so hard for a whole year, you’ve come through thick and thin and we have lifted another trophy together. A group of 57 players contributed to that and you just feel very lucky to be part of it,” he finished.

Along with his PRO 14 medals Kearney has claimed four Champions Cups and a Challenge Cup with the province in 209 appearances, while in 90 caps for Ireland he has won two Grand Slams and two further Six Nations crowns and featuring on two British & Irish Lions tours.

With all that in mind, IRFU performance director David Nucifora is happy to have such a decorated player remain in the country.

“Rob has contributed a huge amount to Irish rugby and has performed at a high level again this year for Ireland and Leinster. We are delighted that he will continue his career in Ireland in what will be his 15th season as a senior pro,” he said.

Kearney will hope that he can play a key role in Ireland’s bid to reach a first World Cup final later this year in Japan, before looking ahead to next season and who knows this warrior could earn himself another extension but for now let’s enjoy what he brings while he remains on our shores.

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