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Brive 37-42 Munster, Amlin Challenge Cup Quarter-Final, April 9
McGahan delighted to come through Brive test
ESPNscrum Staff
April 9, 2011
Munster fly-half Ronan O'Gara looks for the ball, Munster v Northampton Saints, Heineken Cup quarter-final, Thomond Park, Limerick, Ireland, April 10, 2010
Fly-half Ronan O'Gara steered Munster to a narrow victory over Brive © Getty Images
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Tournaments/Tours: Amlin Challenge Cup
Teams: Brive | France | Ireland | Munster

Munster coach Tony McGahan was full of praise for his side after they booked their first-ever Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final appearance with a 42-37 victory over Brive at the Parc Municipal.

Wingers Doug Howlett and Keith Earls scored two tries each and Peter Stringer also crossed as the Irish province played some fine attacking rugby in the searing French heat. But Brive led 20-19 at the break thanks to tries from Retief Uys and Fabrice Estebanez and proved extremely hard for Munster to shake off. An intercept try by Alexis Palisson and another late on from Shaun Perry meant that McGahan's side were left sweating until the final whistle before closing out a 42-37 win.

Speaking afterwards, a relieved McGahan said, "Brive are a very good side - they've displayed that with their home form this year. They've turned over some really big names so we certainly knew what they were capable of. The intercept from Palisson really hurt us around the 70-minute mark. That certainly gave them a great springboard into the game and then they had the fortitude and the courage to keep coming back at us, which we knew they would.

"We certainly recognise, playing French sides, that you need to make sure you're in front on the scoreboard to not give them any hope. You saw how the game ebbed and flowed, and how they played when they were in front and when they were behind. So we needed to be a little bit more clinical, more on our defence obviously."

Ronan O'Gara, who captained Munster in the injury-enforced absence of Paul O'Connell, kicked 17 points including three second-half penalties that proved crucial in the end.

Meanwhile, Brive's English centre Jamie Noon pointed to a nightmare start, during which Munster scored two tries in five minutes, as one of the main reasons for his team's downfall. "Obviously we're massively disappointed to come so close but yet so far. Munster showed real class," he said.

"The two wingers (Earls and Howlett) looked very, very dangerous whenever they got the ball and the first 10 minutes we were chasing shadows a little bit. But I thought the guys showed serious courage and put in a gutsy performance to get back in that first half. We're obviously disappointed that when we did get back, we leaked another try. I think that showed how dangerous Munster can be when they turn it on."

Amlin Challenge Cup Semi-Finals:

Friday, April 29
Stade Francais v Clermont Auvergne, Stade Charlety (KO 20:45)

Saturday, April 30
Munster v Harlequins, Thomond Park (13:00)

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