Perpignan fall to boot of O'Gara

Munster 24 Perpignan 23

A much improved performance, a stunning display by fly-half Ronan O'Gara and a victory to keep Munster's European ambitions alive but they owe a great deal to Perpignan indiscipline as the French champions let a famous Heineken Cup win slip from their grasp at a nervously energised Thomond Park last night.

O'Gara produced a brilliant all-round display, showing the control and poise that forged his reputation while kicking all of Munster's points via seven penalties and a drop goal.

The Munster coach Tony McGahan said: "I thought Ronan O'Gara was outstanding tonight. He has been outstanding even since he came back into the camp after the autumn internationals.

"He is a tremendously strong-willed person," McGahan added. "He did not lose his belief and we certainly did not lose our belief in him."

Although Perpignan's smothering defence did not open many avenues for exploration, there was far greater cohesion to Munster's back play with Keith Earls back in the centre next to Lifeimi Mafi and Denis Hurley putting in a powerful display on the wing.

The forwards went well as a unit also, with Alan Quinlan and his back row having big games and the front five battling away all night. They had to for Perpignan are not French champions for nothing and, for all Munster's improvement, next weekend's rematch is a daunting challenge.

Munster opened with a fury that reflected the importance of and intensity of the occasion. With Earls and Mafi buzzing in midfield and O'Gara flinging out passes with pace and precision, Munster launched a waved offensive that took them deep into the visitors' 22 and O'Gara knocked over the straightforward penalty.

Perpignan looked rattled by the early onslaught but once they got their hands on the ball, the quality was evident and they worked their way into Munster territory with the put in to the line-out. A mix-up in communication allowed Paul O'Connell to slap back the throw and flanker Yoann Vivalda exploited the gap in the Munster line-out to pick up the bounce and charge over.

Four minutes later Perpignan winger Farid Sid was caught offside chasing a box kick by Julien Durand and O'Gara nailed an excellent kick from wide on the right to restore their lead. Then came the second shock try, which again took advantage of gaps in the Munster line-out. From static ruck ball the visiting forwards sent Durand down the left-hand touchline and the scrum-half turned Doug Howlett inside out with embarrassing ease on his way to the line, Jerome Porical converting for a 12-6 lead.

The sides traded blows pretty evenly for the next 10 minutes but, while Porical failed with a 45-metre penalty attempt after 22 minutes, O'Gara was clinical with his effort three minutes later to reduce the deficit to 12-9 before the outside-half missed for the first time. With Perpignan consistently falling foul of referee Wayne Barnes, and O'Gara orchestrating superbly, Munster worked their way into good position only for Perry Freshwater and Nicolas Mas to put the squeeze on the Munster scrum and the French had a relieving penalty.

Howlett was playing with the fervour of a man desperate to atone for his earlier try-saving failure and his superb chase of Paul Warwick's Garryowen enveloped Porical and allowed O'Gara to tie the scores from the resultant penalty.

O'Gara slotted the first penalty of the second half before a Munster infringement allowed Porical to tie it up at 15-15. O'Gara then dropped a goal before putting over his sixth penalty with a superb kick for a six-point advantage.

It was Perpignan who scored next, though, when Mafi was swallowed up by the white line and replacement David Mele made it 21-18 before Philip Burger scored one of the great Heineken Cup tries. He fielded a high ball just ahead of Howlett and put on the after-burners, flying past a clutch of despairing defenders and into the Munster red zone where he slalomed around Warwick to slide over in the corner. A missed conversion, though, meant O'Gara's penalty with five minutes to go after a high tackle on Mafi made it 24-23.

A worthy and much improved win over quality opposition but Perpignan will relish the opportunity to get Munster on home soil next weekend.

Munster: Penalties O'Gara 7; Drop goal O'Gara. Perpignan: Tries Vivalda, Durand, Burger; Conversion Porical; Penalties Porical, Mele.

Munster: P Warwick (J De Villiers, 75); D Howlett, K Earls, L Mafi, D Hurley; R O'Gara, T O'Leary; W du Preez, D Fogarty (D Varley, 60), J Hayes (T Buckley, 69), D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell (capt); A Quinlan, D Wallace, D Leamy.

Perpignan: J Porical (P Burger, 63); F Sid, D Marty, M Mermoz, C Manas; G Hume, N Durand (D Mele, 63); P Freshwater (J Schuster, 60), G Guirado (M Tincu 20-26, 60), N Mas (capt, K Pulu, 73), O Olibeau (R Kareilis, 61), R Tchale Watchou, Y Vivalda (C Gele, 63), B Guiry, Y Parent.

Referee: W Barnes (RFU).

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice