By Simon Lewis, Thomond Park
Munster have set up a semi-final clash against Leinster in the Pro 14 after a victory over Edinburgh at Thomond Park.
Tries from Rhys Marshall and Keith Earls gave Munster their 20-16 win over the Scottish side this afternoon.
Key moment: It’s never done the easy way and Munster needed an overtime lineout steal from captain Peter O’Mahony to settle this tight contest and book a semi-final trip to old foes Leinster in a fortnight. It was hardly a quality affair, though Simon Zebo had a moment to shine on his final game at Thomond Park before leaving for Racing 92, his chip and charge in midfield setting up Keith Earls for a try just after half-time.
Talking point: A crowd of just 10,205 turned up at Thomond Park, a surprisingly low number given this was knockout rugby. Season tickets were not valid for this game and supporters obviously preferred to soak up the Bank Holiday weekend sunshine elsewhere, resulting in a low-key atmosphere for such a pivotal game in Munster’s season.
Key man: Try scorer Keith Earls took the man of the match honours after another energetic display in a season that saw him crowned Munster player of the year.
Yet this Guinness PRO14 quarter-final victory was about the squad effort and that was epitomised by replacement tighthead Ciaran Parker. The Irish-qualified former England U20 was thrown in at the deep end after an early injury to Stephen Archer and Parker rose to the equation, nailing down his side of the scrum and putting himself about in the loose.
Ref watch: Nigel Owens kept controversy to a minimum in a clean if scrappy game with a low penalty count.
Penalties conceded: Munster 7 Edinburgh 6
Injuries: Munster’s resources at tighthead prop were stretched further as Stephen Archer was forced off after 16 minutes with a suspected shoulder injury. With John Ryan (back) injured a fortnight ago in Bordeaux, Ciaran Parker was thrown into the fray. Munster wing Andrew Conway was removed for a Head Injury Assessment on the half hour but returned to action after nine minutes, only to fail to reappear for the second half. There will also be worries over the departure of lock Jean Kleyn in the 57th minute, having gone down injured after a lineout.
Next up: Munster have booked a semi-final place and must travel to Dublin on Saturday, May 19 to face arch rivals Leinster at the RDS Arena. Leinster may be going for a double by then, for they face Racing 92 in next Saturday’s Champions Cup final in Bilbao.