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Keith Earls’ brace of tries the deciding factor as Munster advance

Heineken European Champions Cup quarter-final:
Edinburgh 13, Munster 17
MUNSTER are through to the semi-final of this competition thanks to a dogged defensive display and their ability to take their scoring chances. They trailed 13-10 coming up to the 70th minute and it could have been 16-10 had Edinburgh prop Pierre Scheuman not blocked Tadhg Beirne with his shoulder off the ball after the Scottish side had been awarded a kickable penalty. The award was overturned and from that attack Keith Earls scored a brilliantly taken try and Tyler Bleyendaal added the crucial two points. Jaco van der Walt’s 49th minute penalty had put Edinburgh three points ahead after Bleyendaal had levelled the tie at 10-10 with a 46th minute penalty and for much of the second half Munster found it difficult to break down the home defence.
The first half physicality of this quarter final and the incredible defensive effort by Munster in particular took its toll with Munster losing Carbery and Jack O’Donoghue with injuries while Jean Klein was also off the field for a period for a HIA. Adding to that Tadhg Beirne was shown a yellow card on ten minutes but despite the set-backs Munster lacked nothing in spirit in a hard-fought first half.
Munster showed remarkable defensive work early in the first half, turning over a few metres from their own line twice in the opening 13 minutes. They lost Tadhg Beirne to the bin with ten minutes played but on their first and only incursion of the first quarter into the Edinburgh 22 the reds took the lead. Munster were awarded a five metre scrum after the referee spotted a knock-on, they were then awarded a second penalty at the scrum and Keith Earls showed his alertness to take a quick-tap and go over the line with Joe Carbery adding the extra two points.
With the physicality of this tense first half rising, Edinburgh were eventually rewarded for their pick and drive tactics, centre Chris Dean skipping past Conor Murray to go over and Jaco van der Welt kicking the conversion to level the tie at 7-7. Joe Carbery appeared to have a recurrence of the hamstring problem and was replaced by Tyler Bleyendaal five minutes before half time after van der Welt had kicked Edinburgh into a 10-7 lead.
In games like these you need that little bit of luck to taste victory. Munster had to defend as if their lives depended on it today and they probably deserved to benefit from that game changing reversed penalty that really decided this thriller.
Edinburgh Rugby: 15. Darcy Graham, 14. Damien Hoyland, 13. James Johnstone, 12. Chris Dean, 11. Duhan Van Der Merwe, 10. Jaco van der Walt, 9. Henry Pyrgos, 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. Stuart McInally (c), 3. WP Nel, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. John Barclay, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Viliame Mata.
Replacements: 16. Ross Ford, 17. Allan Dell, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Magnus Bradbury, 20. Jamie Ritchie, 21. Charlie Shiel, 22. Simon Hickey, 23. Mark Bennett,
Munster Rugby: 15. Andrew Conway, 14. Darren Sweetnam, 13. Chris Farrell, 12. Rory Scannell, 11. Keith Earls, 10. Joey Carbery, 9. Conor Murray, 1. Dave Kilcoyne, 2. Niall Scannell, 3. John Ryan, 4. Jean Kleyn, 5. Tadhg Beirne, 6. Peter O’Mahony (c), 7. Jack O’Donoghue, 8. CJ Stander.
Replacements: 16. Rhys Marshall, 17. Jeremy Loughman, 18. Stephen Archer, 19. Billy Holland, 20. Arno Botha, 21. Alby Mathewson, 22. Tyler Bleyendaal, 23. Dan Goggin.

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