Munster 41 Toulouse 16
By Simon Lewis
<b>Key moment</b>: Munster never trailed this contest but it was delicately poised right up to the 74th minute when Tyler Bleyendaal slotted his fourth penalty of the evening. Until then Toulouse had stayed in touch and were gathering serious momentum after wing Paul Perez scored a try in the 55th minute, converted by Jean-Marc Doussain to narrow the score to 24-16. It made for a nervous 15 minutes after that until Toulouse went offside at a ruck and from the edge of the 22, the Munster fly-half restored the lead to 11 points, effectively ending French resistance with six minutes to go. Time enough to two more tries.
<b>Talking point</b>: Another proud European occasion at Thomond Park as Munster reached the Champions Cup semi-finals in their first return to the knockout rounds in three seasons, blowing Toulouse away in a manner that echoed their 47-23 win over the French giants in 2014. That time the victory sent them to France for a semi against the mighty Toulon in their own back yard in Marseille. This time they will wait for the outcome of Sunday's quarter between Saracens and Glasgow. If the Scots stage an upset it will be off to Murrayfield but if all goes to form, then a win for defending champions Sarries will hand Munster a home-country semi-final at Aviva Stadium on April 22 or 23.
<b>Key man</b>: As well as Duncan Williams performed, there was a standout performance from try-scoring forward John Ryan, the tighthead prop, who put in a phenomenal shift in the loose to earn the man of the match award.
<b>Ref watch</b>: Irish-born, English-affiliated referee JP Doyle had a busy day, sin-binning Toulouse No.8 Francois Cros in the second minute for a late and high hit on Duncan Williams, but he otherwise frustrated Munster throughout, ignoring home dominance at the scrum, disallowing a home try for a debatable Tommy O'Donnell knock-on and ignoring what seemed a clear-cut forward pass for Toulouse's 55th minute try.
<b>Injuries</b>: Toulouse were also forced to make a change just before kick-off when Scotland lock Richie Gray failed to finish the warm-up. Munster were dealt further blows when they lost a trio of Ireland stars in the second half. Captain Peter O'Mahony limped off in the 50th minute with what looked like a thigh problem, followed by Keith Earls six minutes later and 10 minutes after that CJ Stander hobbled off, his right ankle already heavily strapped from earlier treatment..
<b>Next up</b>: With a semi-final place booked in three weeks, Munster return to their chase for a Guinness Pro12 home semi-final when Glasgow Warriors visit Cork next Saturday night (7:35pm). With four more rounds of the regular season to play, second-placed Munster are on course for the play-offs, lying 10 points clear of fifth-placed Scarlets. A top-two finish, though, is the main objective, and Rassie Erasmus's side lie two points behind leaders Leinster, are four points clear of Ospreys in third.