Munster v Racing 92

Munster look to put Top 14 champions out of their European misery and secure home quarter-final

John O'Sullivan Sat, Jan 21
LIVE: Munster v Racing 92

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  • Hello and welcome to the Irish Times live blog of this evening's Champions Cup match between Munster and Racing 92 at Thomond Park. The Irish province has already qualified for the quarterfinals but they'd like it to be at home. John O'Sullivan here and I'll be keeping an eye on the action and observing how uncomfortable they can make it for Munster old boy, Ronan O'Gara, part of the Racing 92 coaching team.    
  • Earlier this afternoon the wonderfully named EPCR Untoward Incident Review Group exonerated Munster and their medical team of any perceived wrong doing in relation to an incident in last week's match in which Munster scrumhalf Conor Murray took a bang from Glasgow Warriors Tim Swinson and was removed from the pitch for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) and then returned to continue playing.  
  • The EPCR Untoward Incident Review Group announced their findings in a short statement that you can read here
  • The full report will be available next week. However it should be pointed out that Munster, at their own expense use a system, 'myplayxplay' to monitor heavy collisions on the pitch in real time, independent of any pictures offered by the host broadcaster.  
  • Conor Murray was adamant during the week that the collision saw him suffer a stiff neck and shoulder. He did undergo the HIA stage two process and passed without any issues and will take his place in the Munster team this evening.  
  • Right time for the teams.


    Munster Rugby: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Ronan O'Mahony; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Donnacha Ryan, Peter O'Mahony (c), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander.


    Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Dave Kilcoyne, Thomas Du Toit, Billy Holland, Jack O'Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Francis Saili.


    Racing 92: Brice Dulin; Teddy Thomas, Henry Chavancy, Etienne Dussartre, Marc Andreu; Benjamin Dambielle, Maxime Machenaud (c); Eddy Ben Arous, Camille Chat, Ben Tameifuna, Manuel Carizza, Leone Nakarawa, Yannick Nyanga, Matthieu Voisin, So'otala Fa'aso'o.


    Replacements: Virgile Lacombe, Julien Brugnaut, Cedate Gomes Sa, Ali Williams, Chris Masoe, James Hart, Franck Pourteau, Albert Vulivuli


    Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy).


    Assistant ref: Matteo Liperini (Italy), Assistant ref: Simone Boaretto (Italy.


    TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy).


    Citing Commissioner: Stefano Marrama (Italy)

  • I've a feeling many of the 26,200 crowd in Thomond Park will recognise this kicking style.
  • Speaking of outhalves, this is what Ian Madigan had to say after helping his Bordeaux Begles side to a 26-22 victory over Ulster at the Kingspan stadium.

    With typical honesty Madigan, who has suffered an injury disrupted season admitted: "I haven’t had the consistent run of form that I think should warrant an international call-up"

    “I lost a bit of momentum with the injury I had, but it’s about going back to the things that have worked for me throughout the years, playing flat to the line.

    “You always hold out hope [Ireland selection]. Today was just about getting momentum back into my season. I haven’t had the consistent run of form that I think should warrant an international call-up. You’ve got to show extended form for that.

    "The Six Nations is a long competition and if I can get a run of games under my belt and put my hand up for selection, it’s another player for Joe to select from and that’s really important.”

  • Munster's director of rugby Rassie Erasmus: "The players are up for it. They have brilliant individuals in their team and they will be up for it.

    Racing 92 assistant coach Ronan O'Gara: "It's been exceptional the reception I have received in the last 24 hours. We need to build it like all great teams do."

  • Saracens have beaten Toulon 10-3 at the Allianz guaranteeing the defending champions a home quater-final. Toulon are also in the playoffs at the moment in seventh place. Montpellier eighth. Glasgow who play Leicester at the same time as events in Thomond Park, can join the party.  
  • A bonus point victory for Munster will get them a top two seeding.  
  • The choir and crowd finish a cracking rendition of Stand Up and Fight.  
  • Hands up who'd enjoy running into Mathieu Bastareaud. Anyone?  
  • The teams are in the tunnel.
  • Simon Zebo blesses himself. I'm sure most of the Racing team did that in the dressing room.  
  • Racing players bring a bouquet to the centre of the pitch in memory of the late Anthony Foley.  
  • There will always be a welcome for Racing and their supporters in Limerick and the wider Munster province but not for 80-minutes this evening.  
  • Racing make the first mistake of the evening after 15 seconds.  
  • Great atmosphere in Thomond.  
  • Andrew Conway  chasing a Murray box kick penalisied for a high tackle on Benjamin Dambielle.  
  • Teddy Thomas forces an error from Conway.  
  • Munster penalised from the lineout. Racing ignore the posts and go for the corner. Strange decision from Maxime Machenaud made all the more risible when Camille Chat's throw is crooked.  
  • Terrible news for France, Wesley Fofana will miss the Six Nations after suffering an achilles injury in the win over the Exeter Chiefs today.  
  • Freekick for Racing at the scrum and the French side who were decimated in this facet of the game in the Paris match between the sides opt for another one.  
  • Thomas knocks on. Munster scrum on their 22.  

    At Welford Road: Leicester Tigers 0 Glasgow Warriors 7 (Tommy Seymour try)

  • Racing go through a few phases and then kick it away aimlessly.  
  • Murray puts a box kick out on the full and then Racing take a quick throw with Brice Dulin making a few metres.  
  • Munster penalised for a side entry at a ruck.  

    Dave Kilcoyne is on for Cronin. Looks temporary.  

  • PENALTY MISS: Maxime Machenaud. Short from distance.  
  • Poor kick from Dambielle. Way too long and Stander takes easily. Racing have had plenty of possession but apart from Dulin have been very ordinary with the ball.  
  • At Welford Road: Leicester Tigers 0 Glasgow Warriors 10
  • Murray gets a shove in the back and stays down a tad longer than necessary.  
  • Stander with excellent body position at a ruck in the Munster 22 wins a penalty.  
  • Niall Scannell with a crooked throw.  
  • Pity it was a superb line kick from his borther Rory Scannell that gobbled up 50 metres.  
  • Superb work by Murray to scrag Machenaud and allow Peter O'Mahony to poach. The home side move the ball wide and into the Racing 22 but then concede a penalty at a ruck. That's better from Munster except that they have now conceded four penalties.
  • Machenaud kicks the ball out on the full.  
  • 20 mins: Munster 0 Racing 0
  • An outbreak of kick tennis ends with Yannick Nyanga conceding a penalty. Tyler Bleyendaal kicks to the corner.  
  • Munster with a penalty advantage. Collapsing maul. Eight metres out. Munster captain Peter O'Mahony calls for a scrum.  
  • Munster get a huge shove on. Then bizarely referee Mirius Mitrea shouts at Murray to "use it." The red machine was marching to the line. Strange. Munster get another put-in.  
  • Munster shove their opponents back again, Rory Scannell with a muscular burst, the Kilcoyne, Stander, Zebo and finally Murray. The Irish scrumhalf then asks the referee to go to the TMO.    
  • The issue is not did Murray get over the line but did he lose control.  
  • Mitrea asks the TMO to speak Italian. He wants to see another angle where he suspects Murray lost the ball. In the meantime the Munster players are back in their own half and the crowd is singing the Fields of Athenry.  
  • NO TRY: Racing scrum.  
  • Harsh. I thought it was a try and that it was the Racing defender that pries the ball loose but it goes backwards and then Murray regathers. Try for me.  
  • At Welford Road: Leicester Tigers 0 Glasgow Warriors 17
  • Stander with a magnificent break, 35 metres, after bouncing Dambielle who then takes out Murray two metres from the Racing line. Stupidity of the highest order from the outhalf. Probably still miffed that he was used as a doormat by Stander.  

    29 mins: Yellow card Dambielle (Racing 92)

  • At Welford Road: Leicester Tigers 0 Glasgow Warriors 24
  • Munster scrum. Must score.  
  • Sorry, shouldn't have said that. Kilcoyne knocks on.  
  • Cedate Gomes Sa is on for  Ben Tameifuna at tighthead prop
  • Great tackle by Peter O'Mahony forces a turnover scrum.  
  • There are six minutes left onthe yellow card and eight to the interval.  
  • Munster have a scrum eight metres from the Racing line.  
  • At Welford Road: Leicester Tigers 0 Glasgow Warriors 31. Bonus point, four tries before half-time.  
  • Racing penalised for being offside again.  
  • Murray kicks to the corner. Going for a different set piece.  
  • Jean Kleyn takes. Munster maul, Jaco Taute, Niall Scannell and finally, Simon Zebo wriggles his way over.  

    TRY: Zebo

  • Zebo need to score there because he had a four-on-one overlap outside. Bleyendaal converts. Zebo showed good strength to get that ball down with mutliple tacklers dragging out of him.

    37 mins: Munster 7 Racing 0

  • Super tackle by Zebo on Marc Andrieu, saves a try.  
  • Good inter-passing by Racing there to break up the short side. Munster are penalised and with no time to go to the corner, Machenaud with go for the posts. It's not a difficult chance.  
  • PENALTY: Machenaud.

    HALFTIME: Munster 7 Racing 3

  • Well Simon Zebo has been the central charcater in terms of the scoring at Thomond Park. The Munster fullback and Ireland international did well to wriggle over for Munster's try while he saved one at the other end with a fine covering tackle on Racing wing Andrieu.  
  • The Munster backrow, captain, Peter O'Mahony, Tommy O'Donnell and CJ Stander have worked hard in defence. In fairness the whole pack has stood up to a much more spirited Racing effort from the luke warm effort they mustered in Paris. Stander made one glorious carry, whole Niall Scannell has also broken the gainline.  
  • Munster just need to be patient, hang onto the ball and the spaces will open up. The home side also need to be a little more dsciplined, giving away too many penalties that have allowed Racing to escape on the few occasions that the visitors have been under concerted pressure.  
  • Murray almost got over the Racing try line via quarterback sneak. It went to the television match official who I think got it wrong in not awarding a try.  
  • Sky pundits are continuing to play up Racing and the French team do deserve credit for the manner in which they fronted up physically but if Munster are patient and accurate from the get-go in the second half, a bonus point victory is not beyond them.  
  • What Munster were so effective at in Paris was taking Racing on around the fringes and get quick, front-foot ball and continue to work the sides of the breakdown before varying the point of attack. Racing outhalf Dambielle looks like he doesn't want to be there defensively so that channel might be an avenue to pursue.  
  • Surprisingly the Leicester Tigers have come out for the second half 31-0 down at half-time. A penny for the thoughts of recently sacked Tigers' director of rugby Richard Cockerill, now on the Toulon coaching team.  
  • At the moment the quarterfinals would read: Clermont v Toulon, Munster v Glasgow, Sarries v Wasps and Leinster v Connacht.  
  • Right the second half is underway at Thomond Park and Thomas clears to touch.  
  • Another crooked throw from Niall Scannell. A second of the match.
  • Munster get a freekick at the scrum.  
  • High tackle on Bleyendaal. The Munster outhalf has pointed at the posts.  
  • PENALTY: Bleyendaal.  

    42 mins: Munster 10 Racing 92 3

  • Murray box kick, Racing number eight So'otala Fa'aso'o  knock on under excellent pressure from Conway.
  • Rory Scannell with a super diagonal touch finder into the Racing 22. Peter O'Mahony steals the lineout but when Munster go wide, Zebo knocks on but it wasn't a great pass.  
  • Stander rips the ball away in the tackle, Kilcoyne with a charge. Ball moved wide under a penalty advantage and Ronan O'Mahony is tackled into touch a metre short of the line by Thomas. Good defence. Referee  Mitrea will go back for the penalty.  
  • Munster got to the corner. Francis Saili for Taute.  
  • Peter O'Mahony takes, Munster maul and when the forwards have finished Rory Scannell hits Ronan O'Mahony with a long pass - the wing did well to take it - for a try. Bleyendaal kicks a brilliant conversion.

    TRY: Ronan O'Mahony.  

  • 49 mins: Munster 17 Racing 92 3
  • That's game over I think. Munster could go on to get the bonus point.  
  • Excellent work from Tommy O'Donnell in the build-up to the try.  
  • Turnover in midfield, Peter O'Mahony shows his football skills and Zebo and Ronan O'Mahony chase it down. Racing relieve the pressure when Eddie Ben Arous wins a penalty.  

    At Welford Road: Leicester Tigers 0 Glasgow Warriors 38

  • Munster could be set to host Glasgow Warriors in the quarter-finals. Or they might not.  
  • Racing can't go through a handful of phases without making simple errors. It's really poor stuff. Excellent game management from Murray who just push the visitors back into their 22.  
  • Some decent attacking play for Munster, Ronan O'Mahony down one wing, then Zebo almost escapes down the other flank. Passage of play ends in a turnover and then a knock-on from Zebo.  
  • Racing just produced their best passage of play of the match, inspired by their outstanding player, fullback Dulin and some impressive strength from Chavancy who gets close to/over the line. TMO called in.  
  • TRY: Chavancy.  
  • That's just the fourth try that Munster have conceded in the pool stage of the tournament. Racing have got two of them.  
  • Mitrea influenced the outcome to a certain degree by asking TMO 'is there any reason I can't award the try.' Machenaud converts superbly.  

    59 mins: Munster 17 Racing 92 10

  • Look is you're a Leicester Tigers fand stop following this blog and get a season ticket for some other club. It's now 43-0 to Glasgow at Welford Road.  
  • Thomond Park crowd howl in derision as Mitrea awards Racing a ruck penalty.  
  • Racing kick to the corner.  
  • Well it's about 18 metres away from the line.  
  • Munster turn over possession with Stander and Kilcoyne ripping it free in a double tackle. Bleyendaal with a superb clearance.  
  • Racing maul away. Albert Vulivuli, a replacement, carries hard.  
  • Zebo superbly takes a crosskick and gets the mark. Very athletic and acrobatic.  
  • Rhys Marshall wins a penalty at a ruck. There are 15-minutes left. Former All Blacks  Chris Masoe and Ali Williams are on for Racing.  
  • Ronan O'Mahony and Teddy Thomas in a footrace for Murray's banana kick. Photo finish but O'Mahony adjudged to have knocked it over the dead ball line. Good wheels from the Munster wing.  
  • Marshall, Kilcoyne, du Toit with muscular carries but a knock-on in the build-up denies Ronan O'Mahony a try. It's a Munster penalty instead. Ian Keatley on for Zebo, who's had a fine match.  
  • TRY: Ian Keatley.

    How about that for an introduction. Rory Scannell with a long pass that bounces kindly but Conway does brilliantly to take the tackle initially and than get his pass away to the supporting Keatley. Bleyendaal misses the conversion. Duncan Williams on for Murray who had a fine game.  

  • 70 mins: Munster 22 Racing 92 10
  • David Furey LEicester are a great club with a strong tradition, no need to make unnecessary derogatory remarks like that. Obviously they've never been in contention in this competition this year.
  • Can Munster get that final try that will earn them a bonus point.  
  • Glasgow qualify for the quarterfinals of the Champions Cup for the first time in their history.  
  • CJ Stander gets his traditional man-of-the-match award. Thoroughly deserved but Tommy O'Donnell pushed him close as did Peter O'Mahony, Conor Murray and Simon Zebo.  
  • Clontarf born James Hart is on for Racing at scrumhalf, he'll apparently be wearing the red of Munster next season.  
  • There are three and a half minutes left for Munster to get that bonus point. They'll start from their 22. Brilliant take from Andrew Conway who should have been on the list of standout performers for Munster on the night.  
  • FULLTIME: Munster 22 Racing 92 10  
  • Munster will play their quarterfinal at Thomond Park. Who'll they'll play has yet to be determined.  
  • Credit to Racing, they French club honoured their hosts with that pre-match gesture and in the manner of their performance. They restored some pride after the disappointment of the game between the sides in Paris.  
  • CJ Stander: "It was a tough game. Racing came here to prove a point. In fairness to the boys they stepped up from 1-23. Last week we were disappointed by the breakdown and this time we wanted to look after (Conor) Murray."  
  • Stander has played every minute of every pool match. That's his third man of the match award in the pool stages. Superb again this evening but so were his mates in the backrow, Peter O'Mahony and Tommy O'Donnell. Dave Kilcoyne a big impact off the bench. Murray, Zebo and Conway stood out behind the scrum.  
  • Munster will be second seeds.  
  • Right that's enough from me for one day. Racing came and played but Munster had too much on the night. Rassie Erasmus side have erarned their home quarterfinal; five wins from six pool matches. A great campaign. 12 wins from 13 matches since the desperately said passing of Anthony Foley.  
  • We will have the match report from Thomond Park up soon, so check back here. Thanks for your company. I'll be back tomorrow to see if Connacht can make it three Irish provinces in the quarterfinals when they travel to the home of the four-time European champions Toulouse who are in contention themselves. It should be a great afternoon.