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Highlights, Pics & Reaction: PRO12 Semi Final

22nd May 2017 By The Editor

Earls, Saili, Murray and Conway all combined before Simon Zebo finished off the scintillating try.

Earls, Saili, Murray and Conway all combined before Simon Zebo finished off the scintillating try. ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Look back on Saturday’s action as Munster rounded off a near perfect Thomond Park season by booking their place in the Guinness PRO12 final with a 23-3 win over Ospreys.

Look back on Saturday’s action as Munster rounded off a near perfect Thomond Park season by booking their place in the Guinness PRO12 final with a 23-3 win over Ospreys.

Incidentally, Munster’s one loss of the season in Limerick came against Scarlets in February (21-30), the side whom they face in next weekend’s final at the Aviva Stadium after the Welshmen comprehensively dismantled Leinster in the RDS on Friday night, becoming the first side in the competition’s history to win an away semi final.

On his last appearance in the red jersey in Limerick, a Francis Saili try sent Munster to the interval with a slender 8-3 lead, and it remained a tight and tense affair until the Munster backs produced a scintillating counter as Ospreys kicked downfield in an attempt to relieve pressure.  What transpired was anything but as Keith Earls, Saili, Conor Murray, Andrew Conway and Simon Zebo all combined with the latter touching down on the hour mark for what would be the winning of the game.  Conway’s try on 74 minutes provided the icing on the cake.

Click here to view our Munster v Scarlets match gallery.

Reflecting on a win that was as much about defence as it was attack, Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus commented, “You look at a defence and you can see if a team is tight, are they buddies, are they playing for one another.  Attack is confidence, attack takes self-belief because there are so many variables and when you get attack right like Earlsy did with Zeebs, everybody that was involved like Francis, that shows confidence.

“Confidence always takes a bit longer. With defence you can fix it immediately. The system, you don’t really have to have talent, you just have to believe in the system. The nice thing about those attacking things is the team are starting to believe in one another, and hopefully next week we can do the same.”

In what been, emotionally, a rollercoaster season, Saturday’s win marked quite the transformation for the province who, this time last year, were struggling to qualify for Champions Cup rugby.

“I just looked at a press conference two weeks ago, old clips just before they played Edinburgh and the pressure that must have been on this team last year just to qualify for Europe. The team has been through a hell of a lot before I came here in the last 18 months. So, you know, that’s satisfying, they never give up and want to give back to the fans, that’s satisfying for them.”

Squad captain Peter O’Mahony added, “I could be here all day talking about the season. Obviously we have had some of the lowest lows of all time and then we’ve put in a lot of very good performances.

“We were well into our off-season this time last year, and we didn’t have any rugby to play. Now we’re playing up the last week you can play in our domestic league. It’s testament to the guys, we’ve knuckled down, we’ve stuck to what we have been given and we’ve made a final.

“We haven’t won anything but we’ve put ourselves in a position to win something. With the year that we have had, it would be a nice thing to do but we’ve an incredibly difficult test coming up. We know that if we are going to win this thing, we are going to have to keep our best for the very last weekend of the competition.”

Click here for a Guinness PRO12 Final ticket update.

After the game, MunsterRugby.ie spoke exclusively to man-of-the-macth Francis Saili.

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