Ulster, Clermont book Euro semi spots

by RUGBY.com.au staff

Ulster stunned two-time winners Munster 22-16 in their European Cup rugby quarter-final on Sunday, the hosts' first home defeat in any quarter-final in all competitions.

Former Springbok international Ruan Pienaar kicked 15 points to give Ulster only their second win at Thomond Park in 20 years and a semi-final date in Dublin with Edinburgh, another surprise winner over Toulouse on Saturday.

The only previous time Ulster reached this stage they went on to win the trophy in 1999.

"Our defence really did it for us," said Ulster's Irish international flanker Stephen Ferris.

"We just kept on getting on top of them whenever they had the ball. We are making another step forward.

"We feel we are going places. We wanted to make a statement to European rugby that we are a force to be reckoned with."

Munster skipper Paul O'Connell said his side had given themselves too much to do.

"We gave ourselves a massive hill to climb," said the veteran Irish lock. "We had enough possession to climb it but we didn't handle the ball well enough."

Champions Leinster, who thrashed Cardiff on Saturday, will play Clermont in the other semi-final.

The French club reached the last four for the first time after beating Saracens 22-3.

Munster, who were bidding for a record 10th appearance in the semi-finals, were left reeling as Ulster stormed into a 16-0 lead after just 20 minutes.