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Dublin: 3 °C Sunday 25 February, 2018
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Liveblog

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Hello, and welcome to today’s liveblog.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail paul@the42.ie, tweet @the42_ie, post a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Kick off for the game is at 4pm.

A reminder of today’s teams…

Munster:

15. Simon Zebo
14. Andrew Conway
13. Chris Farrell
12. Rory Scannell
11. Keith Earls
10. Ian Keatley
9. Conor Murray

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Rhys Marshall
3. Stephen Archer
4. Jean Kleyn
5. Billy Holland
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Chris Cloete
8. CJ Stander

Replacements:

16. Niall Scannell
17. James Cronin
18. John Ryan
19. Darren O’Shea
20. Jack O’Donoghue
21. Duncan Williams
22. JJ Hanrahan
23. Alex Wootton

Castres:

15. Geoffrey Palis
14. Kylian Jaminet
13. Thomas Combezou
12. Robert Ebersohn
11. David Smith
10. Julien Dumora
9. Rory Kockott

1. Antoine Tichit
2. Jody Jenneker
3. Damien Tussac
4. Alexandre Bias
5. Thibault Lassalle
6. Yannick Caballero
7. Steve Mafi
8. Alex Tulou

Replacements:

16. Kevin Firmin
17. Tudor Stroe
18. Daniel Kotze
19. Victor Moreaux
20. Baptiste Delaporte
21. Yohan Domenech
22. Yohan Le Bourhis
23. Afusipa Taumoepeau

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU).

Here’s what, Ryan Bailey, our reporter at Thomond Park, has to say ahead of kick-off.

“After a lengthy three-hour delay, the Munster players have returned to Thomond Park from their team hotel as they look to book their place in the Champions Cup quarter-finals. Nothing has changed for Johann van Graan’s side, who still need to win here to secure a passage through while a bonus-point win by a margin of five points would hand them home advantage in the knockout stages.

“Credit to the Thomond Park ground staff, who have worked tirelessly over the last few hours to ensure this Pool 4 clash goes ahead, although so much rain has fallen in Limerick that the playing surface is still likely to cut up as the game goes on.

“Quite a few Munster fans have patiently waited in the stands and terraces for kick-off, but there are many who had travelled for today’s game who have headed home to watch the game on TV, which incidentally will still be shown live in full on Sky Sports.”

We’re under way…

3Mins

Castres have started this game strongly.

The visitors have dominated possession and territory.

5Mins

Castres win a penalty and kick to touch in the Munster 22.

The hosts have seen very little of the ball so far.

9Mins

It’s been a pretty cagey start to this game.

Ian Keatley has just kicked to touch, with Castres getting a lineout by the halfway line as a result.

10Mins

Robert Ebersohn finds a gap in the Munster defence and makes considerable ground, but his subsequent pass is inaccurate and Castres concede possession.

That’s a warning for Munster.

15Mins

Jean Kleyn was at fault there.

Munster won a penalty, but after he then goaded his opponent, so the decision was reversed.

A lack of discipline cost the Irish side there.

16Mins

Better from Munster.

They have won a penalty inside their opponents’ 22.

17Mins

Bad news for Munster and potentially Ireland ahead of the Six Nations.

Dave Kilcoyne has limped off, with James Cronin replacing him.

19Mins

Keatley makes no mistake with a straightforward penalty in front of the posts to draw Munster level.

Flag 23Mins

Munster get a scrum after a knock-on.

It’s been a scrappy start to this game, perhaps unsurprisingly, given the less-than-ideal conditions.

28Mins

Keatley makes no mistake with a penalty in front of the posts.

After a difficult start, Munster have recovered well and deserve their lead.

30Mins

Castres concede a penalty as Munster go for the try.

The culprit, Thomas Combezou, gets a yellow card.

34Mins

Munster took a free kick quickly and Zebo passed out to Earls, who dives over in the corner.

That was a well-worked try and a fine finish from the Ireland international.

36Mins

Keatley gets the conversion to maintain his 100% record.

Munster have some breathing space now.

37Mins

Farrell breaks into space, before passing to Murray, whose subsequent pass back to Conway is knocked on.

That was a decent opportunity to get a second try for Munster.

43Mins

It’s been a slow, scrappy start to the second half.

The damp and windy conditions continue to influence play.

Meanwhile, Munster have made a change, with John Ryan replacing Stephen Archer.

46Mins

Munster win the lineout and drive towards the line with Marshall eventually touching the ball down.

It’s a long way back for Castres now.

51Mins

Munster continue to dominate.

They have a scrum just a few metres away from the Castres try line now.

52Mins

Munster have had 72% possession in this second half according to Sky.

It would take a miraculous turnaround for Castres to get anything from this game now.

Flag 55Mins

CORRECTION: THE TMO HAS RULED IT OUT AS MURRAY DIDN’T GROUND THE BALL LEGITIMATELY. STILL 20-3.

56Mins

Munster still have a scrum for the original concession of a penalty.

Castres are down to 14 again after Daniel Kotze is sin-binned.

Flag 62Mins

Earls passes to Zebo, who accelerates away from a couple of players and goes over for a bonus-point try that sets up a home quarter-final for Munster.

Keatley makes no mistake with the conversion in front of the posts.

63Mins

Earls, who has been outstanding, is replaced by Wootton.

Munster can afford to rest key players now.

65Mins

Darren O’Shea also came on Billy Holland a moment ago, while JJ Hanrahan has now replaced Ian Keatley.

15 minutes remain.

67Mins

Another Munster change.

Jack O’Donoghue is on in place of Chris Cloete.

Flag 69Mins

He’s only just come on, but Wootton is alert as he exploits space and dives over for another try as he takes advantage of a tiring Castres defence.

Hanrahan succeeds with the conversion.

71Mins

75Mins

With little to play for, this game has hit a bit of a lull unsurprisingly.

Keith Earls has deservedly just been named man of the match by Alan Quinlan on Sky.

78Mins

Not too much has happened in the closing stages.

Munster will go into the quarter-finals as third seeds on the back of this result.

80Mins

Cronin touches down amid a deluge of bodies.

Hanrahan then kicks the conversion.

Right, that’s all from me.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

You can read our report of the match here.

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