Peter O'Mahony dejected at full-time. Billy Stickland/INPHO
semi-final pain

'It's a very tough one to take but it's rugby, it's life'

Johann van Graan rued his side’s slow start as they suffered more semi-final pain in Bordeaux.

FOR THE SIXTH time in a row, Munster have fallen at the penultimate hurdle in Europe, their semi-final pain extending to Bordeaux where they were blown away by a rampant Racing outfit.

The southern province conceded three first-half tries as their defensive structures completely malfunctioned in the heat of battle in southern France, with Teddy Thomas crossing twice and gifting a third to his captain, Maxime Machenaud.

Trailing 24-3 at the break, Munster’s dream was over for another year and despite a late rally, during which Simon Zebo, Rhys Marshall and Andrew Conway scored to reduce the deficit, it was another bitterly disappointing afternoon for Johann van Graan’s side.

“It’s a tough one to take, we really believed we could pull this one off but all credit to Racing, they started that game like a train on fire,” the head coach told BT Sport afterwards.

“We regrouped at half-time, we had one or two opportunities just before half-time and in a game of this magnitude, you need to take them all.

“Very glad we came to this stage but very tough one to take. For Munster to get to the semi-final again, a massive achievement but we wanted to go one step better this year and unfortunately it wasn’t to be. We wish Leinster and Racing all the best for the final.”

Van Graan rued his side’s desperately slow start and their first-half collapse, which left them with far too much to do in the second period.

“They’ve got some incredible players, when they got their opportunities they took them,” the South African continued.

Conor Murray dejected after the game Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“Our defence has been incredible all year but you need to produce on the day and unfortunately we didn’t have a good start and we came up maybe one or two minutes short.

“It’s rugby, it’s life, we’ll take it on the chin and hopefully we’ll be back this year. We had a plan today, we believed in our plan but we gave them too much of a head-start.”

Racing will meet Leinster in next month’s decider in Bilbao, with the Top 14 out mightily impressive in the way they ruthlessly cut Munster apart and then held firm for large periods of the second half.

Donnacha Ryan was colossal in the second row, as he was when the sides met in the pool stages back in January, and the Tipp native admits he is gutted for his former team-mates.

“We literally put the foot to the floor, put a lot of effort in, trained the last four days in a row,” he said.

“With Munster’s fitness they are able to up the tempo and small margins in the end did it for us today.

“I’m bitterly disappointed for the lads. I know how much it means to them.

“It’s going to be a tough task in a few weeks time.”

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Munster’s dire first-half leaves them with too much to do against Racing

As it happened: Racing 92 v Munster, Champions Cup semi-final

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