Munster coach Declan Kidney claimed his team earned their 16-14 Heineken Cup quarter-final win over Stade Francais with a magnificent first-half performance in Paris this afternoon.
Playing with the wind, the 2000 runners-up avenged their semi-final defeat by Stade in last year’s competition by taking a 16-3 interval lead.
Although the home side battled back after the break, the sin-binning of flanker Pierre Rabadan 18 minutes from time eased the pressure on Munster, allowing them to scramble into the last four.
‘‘We won the game in the first half when Stade Francais had three chances but we held them out,’’ said Kidney.
‘‘We decided to attack them and hold onto the ball. It’s a narrow pitch and they could not pin us into the corner when both sides kicked downfield.
‘‘This gave us the chance to counter-attack and this helped us in the second half.’’
Ronan O’Gara’s boot did much of the damage, the fly-half landing two penalties, a drop goal and a conversion to Anthony Horgan’s 19th-minute try.
Diego Dominguez was Stade’s only scorer before the interval, but although he landed two more penalties after the re-start, he crucially could not convert Christophe Juillet’s touchdown.
‘‘We thought they would be vulnerable running at them at keeping away from their powerful pack,’’ said Munster full-back Dominic Crotty.
‘‘Our discipline was fantastic and we had guys working hard in the second half so that our tackles made towards the end were one-on-one, and we had more men on our feet, unlike the first half when it was one-on-two.
‘‘We always thought it would be difficult against the wind with 15 or 14 men against us and it did not make that much difference.’’
Fabrice Landreau the newly appointed Stade Francais team manager said: ‘‘We made mistakes diving into the ruck and giving away possession and details like that are very important at this stage of the competition against a team of Munster’s experience.
‘‘Munster are a better side than last year, they are passing the ball better and they have a good back line. I hope they win the cup for Irish rugby.
‘‘We missed our tackles and their conservation of the ball against us was very solid and made it very difficult for us to play all the time without the ball.’’