Two forwards top our player ratings as Munster thrash Toulouse to make semi final
MUNSTER 41-16 TOULOUSE
Munster are back into the final four of the European Cup for the first time in four years after tearing Toulouse apart at Thomond Park this evening.
Having led 10-0 early on, the French side got back to 13-9 at half-time but would get no closer. CJ Stander, Darren Sweetnam and Andrew Conway all crossed for second half tries as a close contest, for the most part, turned into an annihilation by the final whistle.
They will now face the winners of Sunday's match between Saracens and Glasgow. Here's how we rated the men in red:
Simon Zebo - 8
Sharp counter-attack drew men in and he put Sweetnam away, to dent Toulouse early on. Constantly made ground on jinking forays up the park.
Darren Sweetnam - 8
Was well up for this. Lively on his wing and ruffled Toulouse with his willingness to hare after every aerial ball he possibly could. Was onto that loose Doussain pass like a shot to end the contest.
Jaco Taute - 8
Brought that zealous brand of physicality that he does so well. Harshly penalised at the ruck as Toulouse got a simple penalty. Nearly had a try at the end of the first half but could not hold on to Rory Scannell's offload and knocked on. Saved his biggest and best contribution for last as his big hit on Doussain forced a poor pass that led to Sweetnam's try.
Rory Scannell - 7
One superb clearing kick in behind the Toulouse lines and another that was partially blocked and had Munster scrambling. Solid in defence and game through-out.
Keith Earls - 6
Lovely aerial take early on to set the tone. Was rocked onto his heels in some collisions but clung on and did what he had to. A couple of nice carries but did not see too much of the ball.
Tyler Bleyendaal - 8
Confident kicking off the tee and out of hand. A couple of nice skip passes to give width to Munster's attack. 21 points off the boot and as composed an outhalf as they come.
Duncan Williams - 8
Bounced straight back up after a Francois Cros late hit that surely stung. Kept it lively and accurate for Munster's first try. So close to a charge-down try. Got the second half off to a great start with a snipe that won a penalty. Fine outing.
Dave Kilcoyne - 8
Lovely presentation kept move alive for Ryan's try. Looked to have Census Johnston's number at the scrum but got scant reward in terms of penalties. 10 carries and five hearty tackles in his hour-long stint.
Niall Scannell - 7
Solid darts early on to reward decision to go for attacking lineouts. Showed up well in a number of attacking heaves in the Toulouse 22.
John Ryan - 9
Took on two Toulouse men and powered over for the first try. Composed with ball in hand and managed a line break while he was at it.
Donnacha Ryan - 8
Put in a crunching hit on Yacouba Camara to rouse the home crowd. Horsed into Toulouse with tackles - every single one stuck - clear-outs and carries.
Billy Holland - 7
Important tackle on Yoann Huget as he threatened to burst through the Munster lines. Teamed up with O'Donnell for a massive turnover in the final quarter.
Peter O'Mahony - 8
Sublime vertical leap for a lineout steal, on 16 minutes, and it was moments after he won another turnover in his 22. It was his second lineout steal in five minutes. Funnily enough, for all his hard work at ruck time and around the fringes, he was not listed as having a single carry in attack. Limped out after 50 minutes.
Tommy O'Donnell - 8
Made one excellent carry after catching a ball that was fizzed at his nose. Crunched into tackles and was part of an effective scrummaging and mauling machine. Himself and Holland won a turnover that had the home crowd roaring.
CJ Stander - 9
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) April 1, 2017
Had his card marked from the get-go as the Munster dangerman. Few highlight reel carries in the first half but invariably got his team on the front foot. His big moment came - it always does - when he ram-raided over from close in to get a crucial try after 50 minutes.
Dave O'Callaghan (for Stander '50) - 7
Important hit on a flying Fickou.
Andrew Conway (for Earls '56) - 7
Bagged a try at the death.
James Cronin (for Kilcoyne '60) - 6
Brought the fight.
Rhys Marshall (for Scannell '60) - 6
Had one lineout stolen but it ended up going well for Munster as Toulouse conceded a penalty soon after.
Jack O'Donoghue (for Stander '65) - 8
Won an absolutely vital penalty right in front of the posts for his team.
Francis Saili, Angus Lloyd & Stephen Archer N/A
All three came on for the final two minutes.