Magners League: Barnes lifts Munster with brace

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The Independent Online

Munster completed Ireland's dominance of the Magners League by progressing to the Grand Final against arch rivals Leinster. A brace of tries by the 21-year-old centre Danny Barnes, one in either half, settled a lacklustre semi-final against Ospreys, the defending champions, at Thomond Park.

Munster will return here in two weeks' time looking to salvage a disappointing season. By then Leinster could have already been crowned European champions after next week's Heineken Cup final against Northampton Saints.

It was fitting that Munster should progress having topped the table since the second week of the season, though they will need a dramatic improvement to top Leinster, who breezed past Ulster in the other semi-final.

This colourless performance by the star-studded Ospreys will cause concern in the Wales ranks. Only prop Adam Jones had just cause for a jaded display having spent two days in hospital for the birth of his first child.

Desperate defence and Irish ineptitude limited the scoring opportunities. Barnes broke the mediocrity on 32 minutes after David Wallace looked to have blown another scoring chance.

Ospreys produced their best rugby when replacement hooker Richard Hibbard was sin-binned as Dan Biggar reduced the deficit to 11-6 with a second penalty.

But Barnes charged down a clearance by the makeshift full-back Hibbard to settle the tie on 56 minutes. Richard Fussell claimed a late consolation try two minutes from time, far too late to retain their title.