Ulster, Clermont book Euro rugby semis

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    Ulster stunned two-time winners Munster 22-16 in their European Cup rugby quarter-final on Sunday, the hosts’ first home defeat in any quarter-final in all competitions.

    Former Springbok international Ruan Pienaar kicked 15 points to give Ulster only their second win at Thomond Park in 20 years and a semi-final date in Dublin with Edinburgh, another surprise winner over Toulouse on Saturday.

    The only previous time Ulster reached this stage they went on to win the trophy in 1999.

    “Our defence really did it for us,” said Ulster’s Irish international flanker Stephen Ferris.

    “We just kept on getting on top of them whenever they had the ball. We are making another step forward.

    “We feel we are going places. We wanted to make a statement to European rugby that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

    Munster skipper Paul O’Connell said his side had given themselves too much to do.

    “We gave ourselves a massive hill to climb,” said the veteran Irish lock. “We had enough possession to climb it but we didn’t handle the ball well enough.”

    Champions Leinster, who thrashed Cardiff on Saturday, will play Clermont in the other semi-final.

    The French club reached the last four for the first time after beating Saracens 22-3.

    Munster, who were bidding for a record 10th appearance in the semi-finals, were left reeling as Ulster stormed into a 16-0 lead after just 20 minutes.

    © AFP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • April 10th 2012 @ 8:49am
      nickoldschool said | April 10th 2012 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      The system in place in the Celtic league is perfect for the Heineken cup; only 12 teams (i.e. less matches), no relegation battle, the likes of Leinster, Munster, Cardiff, Ulster etc clearly have an edge on English and French clubs. Reward: 3 Celtic teams in the last 4.

      • April 11th 2012 @ 1:36pm
        O.B. Jones said | April 11th 2012 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

        Celtic League is now RaboDirect Pro 12. The competition is based in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Italy. 4 Irish Teams: Ulster, Munster, Connacht, Leinster. 4 Welsh: Newport-Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, and Scarlets. 2 Scottish: Edinburgh and Glasgow. 2 Italian: Aironi and Benetton Treviso. Aironi got their license stripped this season and will be replaced by another Italian team to be named. Hope u got it

        • April 11th 2012 @ 2:28pm
          nickoldschool said | April 11th 2012 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

          I just dont like the commercial name (rabobank) so will continue to call it the way i want, tx mate.

          • Roar Guru

            April 12th 2012 @ 7:24am
            Poth Ale said | April 12th 2012 @ 7:24am | ! Report

            The league is called the Pro12, nick

            Celtic League is out of date since it’s no longer a Celtic league.

            Go on, it can’t be that hard.

            • April 12th 2012 @ 7:46pm
              Colin N said | April 12th 2012 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

              I thought it was called the RaboDirect Pro12 Pot? 😉

      • April 11th 2012 @ 1:36pm
        O.B. Jones said | April 11th 2012 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

        Celtic League is now RaboDirect Pro 12. The competition is based in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Italy. 4 Irish Teams: Ulster, Munster, Connacht, Leinster. 4 Welsh: Newport-Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, and Scarlets. 2 Scottish: Edinburgh and Glasgow. 2 Italian: Aironi and Benetton Treviso. Aironi got their license stripped this season and will be replaced by another Italian team to be named. Hope u got it

    • April 10th 2012 @ 11:15am
      King of the Gorgonites said | April 10th 2012 @ 11:15am | ! Report

      some interesting results over the weekend. well done to Edinburgh and Scottish rugby. top crowd.

    • April 10th 2012 @ 2:53pm
      drama city said | April 10th 2012 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

      And four French teams in the semi-finals of the Amlin European Cup (the second tier to the Heineken). English clubs nowhere in sight.

      Great crowds too: 38,000 at Murrayfield to see Edinburgh defeat Toulouse (a record crowd for a Heineken quarter-final in the UK); 50,000 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin to see Leinster thrash Cardiff; 27,000 at Thomond Park in Limerick to see Ulster upset Munster; and 11,000 at Watford to see Clermont-Auvergne destroy Saracens.

      The semi-finals will be see Ulster take on Edinburgh in Dublin and Clermont-Auvergne play Leinster in Bordeaux.

      • April 10th 2012 @ 8:11pm
        p.Tah said | April 10th 2012 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

        Can you imagine an Ulster Leinster final!

      • April 11th 2012 @ 8:59am
        King of the Gorgonites said | April 11th 2012 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        Though Exeter were valiant in defeat on Thursday night.

        A team of apparent no names have shown what playing as a team can do. its not all bad for english club rugby.

        • April 11th 2012 @ 9:19pm
          Colin N said | April 11th 2012 @ 9:19pm | ! Report

          “Though Exeter were valiant in defeat on Thursday night.”

          I thought they were unlucky and should have won.

          “A team of apparent no names have shown what playing as a team can do. its not all bad for english club rugby.”

          I just think, at the moment, the English club structure probably isn’t conducive to being regularly competitive at Heineken level. Teams like Leinster and Munster pretty much hoover up all the Irish talent and have virtually international sides. Ulster have been superb, but the spine of their team is South African. The French have a similar structure to England, but effectively don’t have a salary cap and have more money – they are meant to be capped at £8m, but Toulouse’s budget was something like £18m. Credit to Edinburgh who have broken the mould with some apparent “lesser names.”

          Having said that, Harlequins screwed it up against Connacht and would have been favourites against Edinburgh, Sarries need to develop an attacking game – you can’t rely on just smothering a team as good as Clermont. Leicester’s best form has come post-Christmas, Bath have been average all season and Gloucester are Gloucester – great sometimes, average others.

          The issue for Aviva teams is that they can’t just turn it on for certain matches like Rabo teams can.

          • April 12th 2012 @ 9:02am
            King of the Gorgonites said | April 12th 2012 @ 9:02am | ! Report

            Yea agree about Exeter deserving to win. But i didnt want to inflame any Frenchmen. You see i am only recently off moderation, so i am trying to behave myself!

            I am starting to come to the opinion that i would rather build a national team from consistent teams who play hard rugby week in week out (premiership clubs) instead of teams who only build for certain games and then are errectic for the rest (Pro D12.)

            • April 12th 2012 @ 11:04am
              Colin N said | April 12th 2012 @ 11:04am | ! Report

              I think there’s an argument for both structures and I think it works in all cases. Scotland, for example, can’t support a 10-team league and the same probably goes for Ireland and Wales, particularly if they want to be competitive with French and English clubs.

              And because they aren’t full-on in the Rabo, it makes them fresher for international matches. It also means, if they’re only playing for four teams, they know each others combinations and games better.

              On the other hand, England wouldn’t allow regionalisation – can you imagine Northampton and Leicster joining to create a Midlands’ outfit!!? There would be outrage.

              Also, with the numbers of players, they need more teams to give the younger players game time. In fact, one negatiive I’ve been told with the Irish provinces, in particular, is that the lack of teams means that younger players don’t get the opportunities they would do in England.

              Young players do seem to progress better in the Rabo though. For example, Sam Warburton was obviously a very good age-grade player, but has become a world class player in a very short period of time. And, despite England dominating at under-20 level in the 6N for the last few years, they have struggled to develop genuine world class talent IMO.

              Obviously, we have had the likes of Lawes, Youngs and Tuilagi come through and have performed generally well in Tests, but I wouldn’t elevate them to dominant Test players just yet. Or perhaps I’m being too harsh?

        • April 12th 2012 @ 1:52am
          Colin N said | April 12th 2012 @ 1:52am | ! Report

          I had to go out, so I didn’t fully complete what I was going to write. So…………….

          If you watch the Rabo league, they play at nowhere near the intensity than in the HEC. If you watched the Sarries-Quins game, it was played at a fast pace with an intensity the hosts couldn’t reproduce against Clermont.

    • April 10th 2012 @ 9:57pm
      drama city said | April 10th 2012 @ 9:57pm | ! Report

      And, if so, it will be played at Twickenham!

    • April 11th 2012 @ 9:28am
      Rugbug said | April 11th 2012 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      Not sure where we can really post this link however being this is a european thread and one of the biggest antagonists and doomsayers re the NZ RWC hosting has already commented on this thread I deem this the most appropriate place to post this link.

      NZ was routinely lambasted at length by a select few posters here at the roar on their ability to accomodate the guests as well as the price hikes.

      Well low an behold they had nothing on what is happening in London and maybe its time a few of you ate a bit of that humble pie.

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/property/news/article.cfm?c_id=8&objectid=10797895

      • April 11th 2012 @ 12:41pm
        King of the Gorgonites said | April 11th 2012 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

        I assume you are referring to me Rugbbug? i was a big supporter of RWC 2011. If i wasnt then i wouldnt have traveleld to NZ on 3 seperate occassions.

        All i have ever done is criticise how hard it was to get accomodation in Wellington. that was a weak link of an otherwise fantasically run and supported tournament.

        As for London. The transport is fantastic. one could stay in one of the home counties and easily travel to London. that could not be done in NZ. you could not stay 1 hour away from a large city and rely on quick and reliable trains. you can do that in london.

        • April 12th 2012 @ 12:12pm
          Rugbug said | April 12th 2012 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

          Interesting how now you have shifted your disdain of RWC 2011 to the public transport system.

          I’m not sure if you realise byt last time I checked NZ has a population of 4.5 million and GB has a population of over 50 million so its not surprising that they have a larger and quicker transport infrastructure.

          What never ceases to amaze me when proven wrong and questioned on your at times extreme anti NZ sentiment you still loook at other places to pick.

          The Mayors of Sydney, London and Vancouver all come out in support of Len Brown and Auckland city at the time of the ONLY transport debacle opening night and all said their cities too would also have struggled with such huge influxes of people on opening night 200,000 plus into the downtown area not to mention the 30-40,000 heading to Eden Park all within a few hours. Yet somehow you miss this and you try and take your argument down another track.

          What do you propose NZ do KOG invest in public transport infrastructure that they simply could not afford nor do they have the population to warrant or sustain it.
          Sometimes I wonder if you actually think about what you criticise or do you simply criticise for the sake of criticising.

          London is doing everything and more than what you accussed kiwis of doing yet you don’t offer the same scorn you try and turn the tables and shift the focus to transport.

          London is a fantastic city and will host a great games however they too are hiking prices to exhorbetent rates not to mention there is a massive accomodation shortage.
          Did you not read the article in its entirety ?

          They are facing the same issues that plagued NZ and all other countries and cities to have hosted major sporting events!

    • Roar Guru

      April 11th 2012 @ 4:43pm
      Rugby Fan said | April 11th 2012 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

      It is interesting that the Six Nations form book has been turned on its head as far as the club competition goes. Some commentators were predicting as much, given that English and Welsh representation in the Heineken Cup was down to a team apiece. I don’t think there was the same expectation that both countries would also disappear from the latter stages of the Amlin too.

      Most supporters usually see the success of their teams in club competitions as a pointer towards performance at Test level. However, here we see Ireland with two semi finalists and Scotland providing one of the others.

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