|Munster (10) 20|
|Tries: Murray, Conway Cons: Keatley 2 Pens: Keatley 2|
|Toulon (6) 19|
|Tries: Ashton Cons: Trinh-Duc Pens: Belleau, Trinh-Duc 2 Drop-goal: Belleau|
Andrew Conway’s late try helped Munster to victory over Toulon at Thomond Park in the Champions Cup quarter-finals.
The visitors dominated the first half but were behind at the break after a moment of brilliance from Conor Murray.
Two penalties from Francois Trinh-Duc either side of Chris Ashton’s try saw Toulon retake the lead.
But when the replacement fly-half missed touch, Andrew Conway weaved his way over the line to seal victory over the three-time champions.
Munster, last crowned European champions in 2008, will now face either Clermont or Racing 92, who play on Sunday, in the semi-finals.
A tale of two decisions
Toulon had Munster on the back foot from the off but, in a first half full of controversy, it was the hosts who took an unlikely four-point lead at the break.
In the first minute full-back Simon Zebo looked to have deliberately knocked the ball out as he raced on to Eric Escande’s kick alongside his opposite number Ashton.
But Nigel Owens referred the incident upstairs, and television match official Jonathan Mason decided on a knock-on by Ashton instead of a penalty try.
The Irish province lost Zebo on 25 minutes, injured in the early collision with Ashton, but the visitors – for all their domination – only put six points on the board.
And Munster’s fortunes turned on a moment of brilliance from EPCR European Player of the Year nominee Murray.
The scrum-half, believing Toulon hooker Guilhem Guirado had played the ball at the ruck, came round the back to steal it from under Escande’s nose and dot down.
After another lengthy discussion between the TMO and referee Owens, which extended the first half to 56 minutes, Murray’s try was allowed to stand.
Trinh-Duc turns the game
Toulon brought on experienced fly-half Trinh-Duc on 50 minutes, after a late change had seen Anthony Belleau start the match in his place.
The unpredictable 31-year-old had an immediate impact as Toulon exploded into running rugby.
His penalty reduced the deficit before an excellent offload set Mathieu Bastareaud steaming down the middle and Ashton ran an excellent line to put Toulon back ahead on 65 minutes.
But for all his magic, Trinh-Duc’s error and his side’s non-existent chase cost Toulon passage to the semi-finals.
Conway excellently fielded the fly-half’s errant kick to touch and danced his way through a stationary Toulon defence to cross under the posts.
Ian Keatley kicked an easy conversion to complete the comeback and Munster now head to France to take on Clermont or Racing 92 in the final four.
Munster head coach Johann van Graan: “It was an incredible game of rugby. I thought [it was] two great sides, two great clubs that went at each other.
“There were a lot of ebbs and swings in that game. I thought they started really well. I thought we fought our way back into it.
“I think gratitude is the main word. It is a fantastic honour to coach a group of warriors.
“If it gets better than this it is going to be something amazing because, like I said before, all the odds were stacked against us.
“I don’t think a lot of people gave us a chance but if you have 23 guys who believe, a coaching and management staff that believe, a squad of players who believe and a club that really believes, you can do the unthinkable and you can make dreams come true.”
Munster: Zebo; Conway, Arnold, Scannell, Wootton; Keatley, Murray; Kilcoyne, Marshall, Archer; Kleyn, Holland; O’Mahony (capt), O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Scannell, Cronin, Ryan, Grobler, Copeland, Hart, Hanrahan, Sweetnam.
Toulon: Ashton; Tuisova, Bastareaud (capt), Nonu, Radradra; Belleau, Escande; Fresia, Guirado, Van der Merwe, Kruger, Attwood, Lakafia, Isa, Vermeulen.
Replacements: Etrillard, Chiocci, Setiano, Taofifenua, Trinh-Duc, Fekitoa, Mathewson, Manoa.