Howlett's tries make sure the Saints go marching out

Munster 33 Northampton 19: Mass choir in fine voice after All Black wing leads Munster past England's only quarter-finalists

Single-point verdicts in the weekend's first two Heineken Cup quarter-finals had gone before it, but this meeting of former winners finished with a definitive gap in the scores, in class, in nous and in bragging rights. Northampton gave it a good lash, as they say in these parts, but were beaten by a side with more big-game experience in every area, epitomised by Doug Howlett's two tries and Ronan O'Gara's brilliant second-half kicking for position.

The final whistle came a few seconds after O'Gara, the tournament's all-time top scorer by 300-plus points, was shoved over by Northampton's South African lock, Juandre Kruger. The act was more childish than violent but the Saints had lost their rag; Munster don't do haloes and it is up to Northampton to learn the lesson. Munster go on to the semi-final in three weekends' time, against Biarritz in France or, possibly, Spain.

Northampton were the last Guinness Premiership team in the competition, and their director of rugby, Jim Mallinder, said: "It's quite sad for the English game but I suppose that's where we are. There are still some good teams in the Premiership." He and his side probably suspected there would be a difference between lying second in the domestic league and holding the European Challenge and Anglo-Welsh Cups, and bringing off a victory at this Limerick stronghold. If so, they were spot on, and never mind the narrow defeat they had here in the pool in January.

Thomond Park is a redeveloped monument to Munster's contribution to the Heineken Cup, and vice versa. Someone borrowed from Jaws and decided: "You're gonna need a bigger bearpit." Yesterday one of their prime grizzlies, the captain Paul O'Connell, was out injured yet the home side had only one starting forward under 30 – and he was the 29-year-old No 8 James Coughlan. Northampton, with their four young England players, led at half-time having scored a try just before it, but that was as good as it got.

"With the loss of someone like Paul, the rest of the team needed to step up to the mark," said Tony McGahan, the Munster coach. They did that all right, in an opening five minutes when the 2006 and 2008 champions terrorised their conquerors from the 2000 final with the high ball and went 10-0 up with a penalty by O'Gara and a try by the Australian full-back Paul Warwick. A Munster line-out was mauled until Keith Earls was released on the left. The young Lion fed Warwick, who dummied an outside pass and ghosted past James Downey.

Northampton recovered and a fluffed Munster line-out allowed Roger Wilson to snaffle and Soane Tonga'uiha to charge. A ruck penalty under the posts gave the fly-half Steve Myler three points. Then Munster wheeled a scrum illegally and Myler potted that kick too.

The crowd had been whipped up with "Stand Up and Fight" and they didn't mind much if the words were made flesh. Step forward Alan Quinlan, who is better at wind-ups than any Swiss watchmaker. He got into a fight with Bruce Reihana over the latter's scrum-cap and there were oodles of petty scraps, none of which did Northampton any good – not that they could let Munster do what they wanted. A conundrum older than any Irish forward.

A scrum and a series of rucks allowed O'Gara to pass long for Howlett to pirouette past Reihana and Phil Dowson for a 13-6 lead. Quinlan conceded a penalty plus 10 metres for back-chat and Myler made it 13-9. When Dowson led some insistent drives and Myler, Reihana and Ben Foden sent in Jon Clarke for a converted try, Munster needed to regroup.

With the second-half wind behind them, they blew Northampton's house down. Earls shifted to the wing to allow Lifeimi Mafi into midfield but it was the other centre, Jean de Villiers, who sliced Northampton open for Munster's third try, 12 minutes in, with O'Gara converting. O'Gara and Myler then exchanged penalties for Munster to lead 23-19.

The Welsh referee, Nigel Owens, took a belated stand over Munster's continual provocation, penalising John Hayes for holding. Ashton went through on a lovely inside ball by Shane Geraghty, who had come on for Myler shortly before O'Gara's 68th-minute penalty made it 26-19. Ashton passed too early to Kruger and Saints were held out at the corner.

Munster wrapped it all up with another converted try which came from another scrum. Tomas O'Leary, as with De Villiers' score, was pivotal, taking David Wallace's pass and feeding the arch-finisher, Howlett.

Munster P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, J de Villiers, I Dowling (L Mafi, 42); R O'Gara (capt), T O'Leary; M Horan, J Flannery, J Hayes (T Buckley, 69); D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll; A Quinlan, J Coughlan (H Williams, 62), D Wallace.

Northampton B Foden, C Ashton, J Clarke (J Ansbro, 72), J Downey, B Reihana, S Myler (S Geraghty, 65), L Dickson, S Tonga'uiha, D Hartley (capt), E Murray (B Mujati, 65), C Lawes, J Kruger, P Dowson (M Easter, 72), N Best, R Wilson.

Referee: N Owens (Wales).

Semi-final draw

Toulouse/Stade Français v Leinster

Biarritz v Munster

To be played weekend of 1/2 May

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering