European knockout rugby returned to Thomond Park as Munster hosted four-time winners Toulouse.
After Leinster surged into the Champions Cup semi-finals with an impressive victory over Wasps at the Aviva Stadium, Munster will be hoping to follow suit this evening.
The southern province are back where they belong and it promises to be a big evening at Thomond Park, with four-time winners Toulouse the visitors.
Kick-off is at 5.45pm and we’ll have all the build-up between now and then.
The scene is set, and Thomond is looking an absolute picture.
The big news from Thomond is that Conor Murray is OUT of the game after failing a late fitness test on that troublesome shoulder injury.
Duncan Williams replaces the Irish international at scrum-half, with Angus Lloyd set for his European debut after being drafted into the replacements.
Here are the teams for this evening’s game.
15. Simon Zebo
14. Darren Sweetnam
13. Jaco Taute
12. Rory Scannell
11. Keith Earls
10. Tyler Bleyendaal
9. Conor Murray
1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Billy Holland
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Tommy O’Donnell
8. CJ Stander
16. Rhys Marshall
17. James Cronin
18. Stephen Archer
19. Dave O’Callaghan
20. Jack O’Donoghue
21. Duncan Williams
22. Francis Saili
23. Andrew Conway
15. Maxime Médard
14. Yoann Huget
13. Gaël Fickou
12. Florian Fritz
11. Paul Perez
10. Jean-Marc Doussain
9. Sébastien Bézy
1. Cyril Baille
2. Leonardo Ghiraldini
3. Census Johnston
4. Richie Gray
5. Yoann Maestri
6. Thierry Dusautoir (captain)
7. Yacouba Camara
8. François Cros
16. Julien Marchand
17. Gurthrö Steenkamp
18. Dorian Aldegheri
19. Tala Gray
20. Piula Fa’asalele
21. Joe Tekori
22. Luke McAlister
23. Arthur Bonneval
Toulouse now forced into making a late change with Richie Gray pulling up in the warm-up. Joe Tekori is promoted off the bench to start.
Another sell-out at Thomond Park this evening and as kick-off approaches, the atmosphere is really building.
As Stand up and Fight rings around this famous ground, here is our view for the evening.
Ryan Bailey here to guide you through all the action as it happens, with Murray Kinsella in position at Thomond Park.
The teams are out and we’re all set! Which way do you see this one going?
Kick off! Tyler Bleyendaal gets us underway.
Williams is hit late by François Cros after box kicking and although the referee doesn’t see it in real time, JP Doyle is asking for the TMO to have a look. It appears he leans with the elbow and this should be a yellow card.
Yellow! ‘That’s pretty conclusive that that’s the elbow,’ says the TMO and JP Doyle brandishes the yellow for Cros.
Really stupid from Cros and he’s given Munster the early momentum as they kick for the corner. The rolling maul is good and the hosts recycle it infield towards Bleyendaal.
It comes to nothing and we’re going back for a penalty advantage after Dusautoir was penalised during that maul. Kicked to the corner again.
Munster continue to apply the pressure and John Ryan picks and drives and he powers towards the line and looks like he’s got it down. JP Doyle wants the TMO to have a look.
TRY! Munster 7-0 Toulouse (Ryan)
And after all that, the try is awarded! The perfect start for Munster as Ryan barges over and Bleyendaal knocks over the conversion.
Reckless stuff from Cros and Munster have taken full advantage.
Really bright start from Munster and they’re looking to really put Toulouse under the cosh in these opening minutes. Sweetnam kicks and chases and although the ball doesn’t bounce in his favour, he makes good ground to make the tackle and keep the pressure on the visitors.
Nothing Toulouse can do but concede a penalty after another powerful Munster drive with Williams controlling it from the base. Bleyendaal calls for the tee and he’ll have a shot at goal here.
Penalty! Munster 10-0 Toulouse (Bleyendaal)
Sweetly struck and it sails between the posts.
Toulouse kick it deep from the restart and its rewarded as Bleyendaal uncharacteristically slices it into touch. Meanwhile, Cros is ready to come back on.
Toulouse remain patient as they go through 19 phases of possession but there’s no way through the red wall as the Munster defence stands firm and they force the knock on.
Munster win the free kick from that defensive scrum and Rory Scannell finds a good touch on this near side. The ball is worked towards halfway but a red shirt is pinged for holding on and Toulouse have the chance to open their account.
Fritz strikes it well but pushes his effort slightly and the score remains 10-0.
Penalty! Munster 10-3 Toulouse (Doussain)
Toulouse have come back into the game really well and Huget comes in off his wing to cut through midfield and leave Munster scrambling. It was a great line from the winger and Doussain knocks over a penalty from in front of the posts.
Great work from Zebo as he reads the play and makes good ground to gather Doussain’s low kick in behind and instead of looking for touch, the Irish international turns defence into attack.
It gives Munster front foot ball and they’ve rumbled their way towards the Toulouse 22 with referee Doyle eventually bringing it back for a penalty advantage after a high tackle on Kilcoyne.
Penalty! Munster 13-3 Toulouse (Bleyendaal)
And Bleyendaal goes the necessary as he splits the posts from tee.
Toulouse’s turn to enjoy a period of possession. Doussain with a delicious grubber through and it causes all sorts of trouble for Zebo and Earls but they do just enough to deny Fritz.
Munster concede another penalty as JP Doyle tells O’Mahony the next time a player is going to the bin. Taute the man penalised on that occasion.
Penalty! Munster 13-6 Toulouse (Doussain)
Doussain has the simple task of knocking it over from in front of the posts and Toulouse leave the Munster 22 with points to show for their efforts.
Another slice, this time from Médard, has given Munster a prime attacking position here. Scannell to throw right on the 22 metre line.
O’Mahony once again claims the line out and Williams finds Scannell, but his offload to Taute is deemed to have been forward by the referee. That was a tight call.
Breathless passage of play. Scannell charges through and as he is hauled to the ground, his offload to Taute is knocked down off a Toulouse hand. Tommy O’Donnell appears to get a touch on the loose ball before Bleyendaal gathers and dots it down.
The referee isn’t sure if O’Donnell knocked it or not so we’re going upstairs.
No try! It’s a tough call for the TMO but he eventually decides that O’Donnell did knock it on and we’re coming back for a Toulouse scrum.
Williams is having a brilliant game having been called in late to replace Conor Murray and he charges down the clearing kick but he’s just unable to gather and get it down before it goes into touch.
Penalty! Munster 13-9 Toulouse (Doussain)
Munster look to run it from deep but a knock on leads to a Toulouse penalty after JP Doyle adjudged a red shirt to be offside. Doussain strikes the penalty sweetly and it drops over from 44 metres out.
Half-time! Munster 13-9 Toulouse
After Munster’s explosive start, Toulouse have come back into the game and three Doussain penalties has left this quarter-final tie delicately poised.
Teams are back out, with Munster set to play with the breeze in this second half.
Back underway and Munster instantly win a penalty on halfway.
And with the wind at his back, Tyler Bleyendaal is going to have a pop at goal here.
Penalty! Munster 16-9 Toulouse (Bleyendaal)
What a kick! He strikes it cleanly and even though the wind is now swirling around Thomond Park, it just has enough legs to drop over the bar.
Toulouse conceding penalty after penalty and Munster go for the corner. Scannell finds O’Mahony, five yards from the line.
Try! Munster 21-9 Toulouse (Stander)
O’Mahony claims the lineout but Stander peels off and Munster rumble towards the line. Bleyendaal goes close but eventually Stander collects and drives over from close range. There was no stopping him there.
O’Mahony shipped a bit of a knock in the build-up to that try as he cleared out for Stander and the Munster captain has gone off. Dave O’Callaghan is on in his place.
Munster going for the kill now as they continue to put relentless pressure on the Toulouse defence. After several phases on this near side, Earls appears to have space as Munster spread it wide but it comes to nothing and we’re coming back for the penalty.
Penalty! Munster 24-9 Toulouse (Bleyendaal)
Bleyendaal has the simple task of slotting it over to stretch Munster’s lead even further.
Out of nothing, Toulouse come alive as Maestri makes a brilliant break and then feeds Perez to run it into the corner. There’s more than a suspicion of a forward pass though and JP Doyle is going to the TMO.
TRY! Munster 24-16 Toulouse (Perez)
The one replay the TMO has available clearly shows that it was a forward pass but JP Doyle decides there’s not enough evidence to not award the try. Contentious decision and Doussain nails the conversion.
Munster make a change as Andrew Conway replaces Keith Earls.
Just about sums up that decision from JP Doyle.
Rassie Erasmus shuffling things up and sending on fresh legs. Kilcoyne makes way for James Cronin and Rhys Marshall replaces Niall Scannell.
Scrum penalty for Toulouse and after checking the wind, Doussain goes for touch.
14 phases now for the French side and Thomond Park is trying to lift Munster in defence and, right on cue, the ball is lost and the home side turn it over. Superb defensive effort.
CJ Stander’s game is over as he hobbles off with an ankle injury he’s been carrying for the last 10 minutes. Jack O’Donoghue is on.
With Stander now sitting on the bench, Munster are without O’Mahony, Earls, Murray and the South-African born forward for the remaining 12 minutes.
The first rendition of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ reverberates around Thomond as the sun sets in Limerick. Eight-point game heading into the final 10 minutes.
Munster win a penalty inside their own half and Bleyendaal happily kicks play down towards the Toulouse line. From there, the visitors are penalised for being offside and Billy Holland points to the posts.
Penalty! Munster 27-16 Toulouse (Bleyendaal)
A fifth penalty from the boot of Bleyendaal stretches Munster’s lead and they’re almost there now.
TRY! Munster 34-16 Toulouse (Sweetnam)
Game, set and match. Darren Sweetnam’s first European try clinches victory for Munster as he kicks through and gathers after Taute’s big hit on Doussain.
John Ryan is named man of the match by Stuart Barnes on Sky Sports.
Brilliant hit from Taute and brilliant footballing skills from Sweetnam.
TRY! Munster 41-16 Toulouse (Conway)
The icing on the cake! Scannell with the initial break and Munster recycle and go wide where Bleyendaal throws a beautiful pass to Conway for the winger to finish in the corner.
Full-time! Munster 41-16 Toulouse
What a performance by Munster as they blow Toulouse away to join Leinster in the last four. Full report and reaction from Thomond Park to follow.
Thanks for joining us this afternoon!