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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 27 May, 2016

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Welcome along to a bitterly cold Thomond Park for Munster’s Pool 4 Champions Cup clash with Stade Français.

Anthony Foley’s men are playing only for pride this afternoon after last weekend’s 27-7 humbling in Paris ended their play-off hopes. The French outfit are still in the hunt for the quarter-finals, so expect a determined performance from Sergio Parisse and co.

Kick-off is at 1pm. Let us know how you think this is going to go.

The main talking point around Munster’s selection for today is the inclusion of Billy Holland at blindside flanker. He has been in good form for the province and Foley is looking for his work rate to rub off on others.

Still, Jack O’Donoghue and Robin Copeland will be raring to go off the bench.

Munster:

15. Simon Zebo
14. Keith Earls
13. Francis Saili
12. Rory Scannell
11. Ronan O’Mahony
10. Ian Keatley
9. Conor Murray

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Mike Sherry
3. Mario Sagario
4. Dave Foley
5. Mark Chisholm
6. Billy Holland
7. Tommy O’Donnell
8. CJ Stander (captain)

Replacements:

16. Kevin O’Byrne
17. Liam O’Connor
18. John Ryan
19. Donnacha Ryan
20. Robin Copeland
21. Jack O’Donoghue
22. Tomas O’Leary
23. Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino

And the Stade Français team… Pascal Papé returns!

Stade Français:

15. Hugo Bonneval
14. Waisea Vuidarvuwalu
13. Jonathan Danty
12. Paul Williams
11. Julien Arias
10. Morné Steyn
9. Julien Dupuy

1. Zak Taulafo
2. Laurent Panis
3. Rabah Slimani
4. Paul Gabrillagues
5. Pascal Papé
6. Sekou Macalou
7. Jono Ross
8. Sergio Parisse (captain)

Replacements:

16. Zurabi Zhvania
17. Heinke van der Merwe
18. Paul Alo Emile
19. Hugh Pyle
20. Sylvain Nicolas
21. Julien Tomas
22. Jules Plisson
23.  Jérémy Sinzelle

There’s been a late change to the Munster bench. Niall Scannell’s shoulder issue has cleared up, so he’s in for Kevin O’Byrne as the back-up hooker.

Sergio Parisse’s performance last weekend was, once again, ludicrously good. Can Munster shut him down this time? Jonathan Danty’s return to the starting XV is another boost for the Top 14 side, while the world-class Rabah Slimani is in at tighthead.

Sergio Parisse arrives Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

On paper, it’s a better Stade team that last weekend. How do you think Munster will cope with them?

By the way, if you’re on Snapchat – we’re doing a few updates from Thomond Park this afternoon, so feel free to follow us. Our username is The42.ie.

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20 minutes out from kick-off and ‘The Hit Machine’ are hammering away on their drums in Thomond Park.

It’s very cold here, grey overhead and with the lightest drizzle at the moment. Not ideal conditions, the ball will be greasy.

The captains have carried out the coin toss and CJ Stander is looking as aggressive as ever in Munster’s warm-up.

CJ Stander and Sergio Parisse of with JP Doyle during the coin toss Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Huge day in this man’s tenure. He has a one-year contract extension offer on the table but has not given Munster a response yet. Will he be in place next season?

Anthony Foley Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

We’ve just had a minute’s silence in memory of Grand Slam winner Paddy Reid.

All set for action now!

1Mins

Steyn kicks us off and Munster instantly concede a penalty!

1Mins

Looked like blocking as Stade chase. Here’s Steyn from straight in front…

3Mins

Good volume in Thomond Park early on but the stadium is far from full.

5Mins

Munster lose out at the first scrum battle there. Series of resets and then JP Doyle does Munster for driving on the angle as the scrum wheels.

6Mins

But then Munster make a big turnover at the maul, Mark Chisholm leading the fight in there. Excellent defensive work from Foley’s men at that lineout.

9Mins

Munster struggle to get out of their half and make it stick, but Stade eventually infringe at the ruck and the home team win a penalty. Ronan O’Mahony has had a great start here, winning two big aerial battles and communicating very dominantly. Impressive stuff.

Keatley kicks Munster up into the Stade 22…

11Mins

Poor decision making from Munster there! The maul was rumbling forward and still going but Conor Murray opted to take the ball out and fire it to Rory Scannell for a midfield carry. He was totally isolated and Jonathan Danty won a superb turnover penalty.

Wasteful from Munster!

12Mins

Good Munster D there, as they force Stade hooker Panis into a knock-on. There’s a bit of off-the-ball stuff afterwards and the crowd love it. That bit of fight and aggression from Munster is crucial if they’re to keep the fans onside.

15Mins

Munster with a sharp attack that ends with a five-metre scrum! Scannell’s lovely pass frees O’Mahony to burn down the left touchline and into the 22. Some excellent carrying thereafter, before Zebo grubbers behind Stade and Dupuy is force to carry the ball over his own tryline and touch down.

Big chance for Munster now…

16Mins

More frustration! Stander scoops from the tail of the scrum, but Dupuy scrags him and the Munster number eight’s pass to Murray is low and short. The scrum-half knocks on.

18Mins

Silly from Stade! They attempt to run the ball out of their 22, but Steyn’s pass is forward! Another big chance for Munster now, control at the back of the scrum has to be good…

19Mins

Scrum penalty and Munster go to the corner now.

20Mins

Keatley is well wide with the conversion. So Sherry’s try takes Munster into the lead and lifts the atmosphere hugely here in Thomond!

23Mins

That’s a huge Stade scrum. Taulafo and Slimani march forward and Doyle goes straight for the penalty.

Steyn is going to have a shot from around 36 metres out, to the left of the posts…

24Mins

He’s missed to the left of the posts. Let off for Munster from the usually reliable South African out-half.

26Mins

Some lovely Munster play after that penalty miss. Dave Foley claimed the 22 drop-out and then cleverly sent Mike Sherry barrelling forward into the Stade half. Leads nowhere, but really heartening stuff from Munster!

28Mins

Beautiful skill from Steyn! First a Munster maul makes almost 20 metres before Murray kicks the ball away far too easily. Then Stade go wide to the left, where Parisse flicks the ball on to Steyn and the out-half deftly taps the ball on one-handed to men in space near the touchline. Munster get back to cover the subsequent grubber in behind.

31Mins

Loads of Munster possession but they can’t break Stade down near halfway and Murray kicks it away again. Lots of intent from Munster but so far they haven’t quite cut the French side apart.

On the ball again now… and another kick behind. This time Keatley grubbers to touch.

33Mins

More brilliant maul defence from Munster and they win another turnover. Chisholm in the thick of it again. Sets up an attacking scrum for Munster just inside their own half.

34Mins

Sherry knocks on after Munster drive into Stade’s half.

Rory Scannell is having another really good game for Munster. Superb carry from that scrum and he’s had two exceptional passes as well. Looks a fantastic prospect for Munster in midfield.

35Mins

Munster give up a scrum penalty, again Doyle feels they illegally wheel it. Steyn goes to touch this time, on the left, 22m out.

Munster’s turn to defend their 22…

36Mins

And they concede another penalty! Foley pinged the lineout this time.

Steyn will go for the posts here…

38Mins

More wastefulness from Munster!

Parisse uncharacteristically drops a bomb in the Stade half and there’s an immediate chance wide on the left. The ball is shifted there but then Scannell’s pass to Zebo goes to ground. Knock-on!

HALF TIME! Munster 12-6 Stade Français!

What a superb try from Keith Earls. Munster shifted the ball wide right, but Saili’s pass was behind Earls. The wing checked his run, ducked back inside and then burst through the wrong-footed Stade defence.

He was still 50 metres out but showed incredible pace to scorch home. Macalou scragged him down a few metres short, but Earls’ momentum and the wet surface allowed him to slide in. A stunning score!

What are your thoughts on that half? Two tries for Munster, but they have struggled to break down Stade in phase play at other times. The French side appear to be relying heavily on Steyn’s boot to get them through today.

How do you see the second half going?

There’s over 14,000 people here today, according to Munster. They also say a total of 18,884 tickets were sold.

Not too bad considering last weekend and the atmosphere has been great!

Both teams are back on the pitch here.

Can Munster finish the job and get back to winning ways?

41Mins

Keatley gets us going again…

45Mins

Munster concede a penalty just inside their own half, no release in the tackle. Steyn puts Stade in touch deep in Munster’s 22…

47Mins

CJ Stander turnover penalty! Just six metres out from the Munster tryline. Massive.

48Mins

Oh no! Williams busts the Munster line but then Earls makes a tackle on him and the ball is turned over. Munster have a chance to clear, but O’Mahony knocks it on under pressure. Attacking scrum for Stade now.

49Mins

Free kick to Munster as Stade mess around at the scrum and they find a big touch up the right.

50Mins

Donnacha Ryan is on for Chisholm, while John Ryan replaces Sagario at tighthead. Huge cheer for the Tipp man.

There’s a bit of a tussle going on now over near the left touchline. Munster are very fired up here!

50Mins

JP Doyle checking with the TMO…

YELLOW CARD! (Ronan O’Mahony ’50)

The Munster wing bumped Hugo Bonneval while the Stade fullback was in the air. Thomond Park crowd boo but that’s a fair card. He didn’t get off the ground.

52Mins

Munster ramp up their defence! First they force a knock-on from Jono Ross, then they hammer Bonneval into touch out on the left. Excellent response to the yellow.

53Mins

Now Munster win a penalty as Panis fails to roll away after his tackle! The Stade hooker gets treatment and then Munster go down the line…

55Mins

Nothing comes of the attack as Munster are done for accidental offside in the maul.

Simon Zebo celebrates his try with Francis Saili Zebo celebrates his superb try. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

56Mins

More brilliant defence. Saili leads the choke tackle turnover this time! Scannell was in there too.

57Mins

Paul Alo Emile makes an instant impact off the Stade bench as he forces Kilcoyne and the Munster front row to stand up at scrum time. Muscular work and now Stade kick up into the Munster half.

58Mins

Yet another Munster choke tackle turnover! Sherry and Keatley combine on Parisse this time. Just over 20 minutes left and Foley’s men lead by 13 points. Can they seal the deal now?

60Mins

O’Mahony is back on the field. Superb defensive effort without him!

61Mins

Rory Scannell took a huge blow there as Parisse boshed him off in a big carry. The inside centre staggered as he rose to his feet and he’s now heading off.

Lucas Gozalez Amorosino is on.

65Mins

Munster missed their man at the tail of a defensive lineout inside their 22, and Stade pounced on it, slipping openside Jono Ross through a hole behind the set-piece as Munster attempted to re-organise.

One of the easiest tries Stade have scored.

67Mins

Munster kick up the left touchline and into the Stade 22 with their latest penalty. High tackle on Stander.

70Mins

Stander burst over from close-range after Munster put width on the ball and won a penalty close to the tryline. Murray quick tapped and then Stander followed up to dot down in the right corner. Lovely conversion from Keatley.

73Mins

Stade trying to play out from their own line! High risk stuff!

74Mins

CJ Stander and Conor Murray are replaced by Tomás O’Leary and Jack O’Donoghue. Huge cheer for Stander!

78Mins

Academy prop Liam O’Connor is on for his debut! Still only in the first year of the Munster academy. Replaces Dave Kilcoyne.

80Mins

Stade will finish on the attack here as they kick a penalty into the Munster 22…

80Mins

Munster finish with a choke tackle!

FULL TIME! Munster 26-13 Stade Français!

Bonus-point win for Anthony Foley’s men!

That’s all we have time for today, but keep your thoughts coming. A much-needed boost for Munster this afternoon!

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