HARLEQUINS boss Conor O’Shea praised “majestic” Ireland lock Paul O’Connell last night after he inspired Munster to an 18-12 comeback win and a place in the Heineken Cup semi-finals.
Three penalties from Nick Evans gave the home side a 9-6 half-time lead at the Stoop, but four swift penalties soon after the interval from Ronan O’Gara, who kicked all of Munster’s points, ended Quins’ treble dreams. Munster face Clermont Auvergne in a record-equalling 10th semi-final and it was O’Connell, shining in front of watching Lions coach Warren Gatland, who drew fulsome praise from O’Shea.
“We were not allowed to play because Munster bossed the second half,” he said.
“I thought Paul O’Connell was absolutely majestic. The whole team was physical but he was the totem that the team rose around.
“He is arguably one of the greatest second rows – if not the greatest – that Ireland has ever produced.”
Saracens are the lone English side in the last four after a 27-16 triumph over Ulster at Twickenham on Saturday set up a semi-final against Toulon, who beat Leicester yesterday.
Under-fire England wing Chris Ashton continued his return to form with a second-half try, and said: “The past few weeks have gone well. People in the team are providing space and backing me. That’s all you need sometimes.”
London Wasps’ Amlin Challenge Cup hopes ended on Friday night with a 28-48 defeat at home to reigning European champions Leinster, who are set to meet Biarritz in the last four.
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