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Dublin: 9°C Thursday 22 April 2021
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Hell of a day for it.

The sun is out, Toulouse are in Limerick and the wheels are spinning to belatedly get Irish interest in the European rugby weekend off and running.

Munster will desperately hope to further their stay in the Champions Cup as a means of bouncing back from Pro14 final defeat. But four-time champions stand in their way again.

Here’s how the teams line up for the 3pm (BT Sport) kick-off.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Keith Earls; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Gavin Coombes, Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander (captain).

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Fineen Wycherley, Craig Casey, JJ Hanrahan, Chris Cloete.

Toulouse: Maxime Médard; Cheslin Kolbe, Zack Holmes, Pita Ahki, Matthis Lebel; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand (captain), Charlie Faumuina; Rory Arnold, Richie Arnold; Francois Cros, Selevasio Tolofua, Jerome Kaino.

Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Clément Castets, Dorian Aldegheri, Joe Tekori, Thibaud Flament, Alban Placines, Baptiste Germain, Dimitri Delibes.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

Kick-off fast approaching and the carrot dangling on the end of this sizeable stick – by dint of today’s early result – is that the winner here will travel to Clermont for a quarter-final.

Either side, battle-hardened by whatever today brings, would surely relish that task.

KICK-OFF: It’s a clash of monochrome kits on display as all-red Munster kick off against all-white Toulouse.

A bit of an early kicking exchange is won hands-down by Maxine Medard who guide’s a gorgeous chip to the corner over Joey Carbery’s head.

Munster line-out under pressure in their own 22.

3 mins: The line-out goes ok, but a breakdown penalty comes for Toulouse and they make hay in the shining sun once the advantage is in their favour.

Offloads start getting set loose, Dupont collects the ball in behind the line and Munster have to infringe twice more to keep the French outfit from scything through.

SIN-BIN: Chris Farrell

The big centre picks up the punishment for a leg trip as Toulouse threatened an early try.

5 mins: Tadhg Beirne comes up with a massive play for the 14 men, winning a clean steal on the ground after Medard was hit with a solidt ackle and rocked back.

7 mins: Toulouse smash right back in a ding-dong breakdown battle. Marchand clamps on at the deck and he’s immovable. Donncha O’Callaghan on commentary imploring his former team to commit more men to the ruck, just the way the game is looking at the minute.

9 mins: Another Wayne Barnes whistle goes against Munster, this time against Gavin Coombes for attempting to contest the ruck after the tackle.

It’s kickable for Ntamack….

But he has smashed it high and wide.

The score remains

Munster 0 Toulouse 3

(I think I forgot to mention his earlier shot in all the excitement of Toulouse’s first attack and Chris Farrell’s card)

13 mins: Brilliant way to end the sin-bin period by Munster. Damien De Allende steps through contact and it takes a prop to slow him down. Conor Murray is hit behind the ruck and so Carbery will get a chance to level the score here as Munster are restored to 15.

16 mins:  Toulouse will take a lead, but it could be 7 rather than 3 because Romain Ntamack just stormed through Munster’s line, taking a Conor Murray box kick in his stride – Joey Carbery misjudged the flight and wasn’t in a position to contest the leap.

He is brought down just in front of the posts and Murray concedes the penalty.

Penalty: Munster 3 Toulouse 6 (Ntamack ’17)

20 mins: Feels strange to note that we’ve just ended the first quarter of the game. It’s been a big 20 minutes.

Kilcoyne drops the ball in midfield to take the air out of a possible Munster attack. There are errors in white too off the scrum launch, but it goes backwards and jack O’Donoghue is just not able to get his foot to the loose ball.

Sensational try from Munster. They go through 10,11 patient phases and even look like they are set to go backwards when Charlie Faumuina puts in a big hit. But the red wave keeps rolling despite the momentum blip and De Allende expertly steps through contact and set Keith Earls down the left.

The Moyross Express still has work to do to finish as he is tackled and wrapped on the line, but he manages to squeeze the ball down the to the turf.

Carbery takes aim from the touchline, but can’t  get it between the sticks.

Flag

TRY! Munster 13 Toulouse 6 ( Earls ’27)

Another for Earls! Munster are humming.

Earls plants down in exactly the same place, but it’s a completely different kind of score.

Mind you, De Allende is again the catalyst, darting through a midfield gap and into the 22. He draws the last defender, hits CJ Stander with a pass inside, but the big 8 is hauled down before the line.

He recycles and Toulouse’s scramble is good to hold firm for a phase or two, but once Murray and Carbery look for Earls the outcome is only a try.

Carbery misses the tricky conversion again, so it remains a seven-point game despite the two brilliant Earls tries.

PENALTY! Munster 13 Toulouse 9 (Ntamack ’31)

From seven back to four, Toulouse strike back firmly after the purplest of Munster patches.

Toulouse wind up another rumble forward, but it looks like it might be even worse than a concession for Munster.

Play is stopped for a serious injury and it’s Tadhg Beirne requiring medical attention.

35 mins: Beirne looks set to carry on, he got a big knee drop into his bottom left rib. So it’ll be sore a while.

Niall Scannell has headed for the sideline so Kevin O’Byrne is on at hooker. I didn’t see what the issue was for the front row.

Toulouse got a penalty out of their last attack and kicked for the corner, but Jack O’Donoghue rose to fill the void left by Peter O’Mahony and flicks back a vital steal.

37 mins: Billy Holland is in the game  as Tadhg Beirne belatedly succumbs to that very sore looking shot to the ribs.

Munster sense blood here and they are hounding down every loose ball to keep the French side on the back foot.

Jack O’Donoghue is again the man leading the scramble for an errant pass and he wins a penalty which Carbery nudges onto the five metre line.

39 mins: The line-out is clean and the penalty comes for Munster.

Even with advantage, they are content to rumble through five or six phases and only look wide when they start going backwards.

Advantage means three points though.

PENALTY Munster 16 Toulouse 9 (Carbery ’40)

The teams are back out for what is set to be a rip-roaring second half in glorious Limerick sunshine.

A simply brilliant start tot he second half from the visitors. Toulouse rumble through the phases, turning up the heat on Munster with their big carriers before they go back to Ntamack and he chips left to invite Mathis Lebel to leap, catch, dive and finish all in one fluid movement.

Ntamack steps up and adds the conversion that Carbery couldn’t quite convert and the scoreline is all square in the last 16.

Munster 16 Toulouse 16

This is where Munster’s mettle is really tested. Their attack was excellent in their first half, but without O’Mahony and Beirne against a Toulouse side fighting their way back, they’ll be under the pump.

46 mins:

Niall Scannell is back from the blood bin and he is making telling impacts to keep Munster’s grip on this contest.

Penalty forced in midfield against Medard and Carbery drills it for a line-out in the French 22.

49 mins: Munster attempt the line-out that brought a Keith Earls try against England, but Stander is hit in the back while the ball is in his hands at the tail and Toulouse tighten in.

Munster retain possession and move the ball wide, Conor Murray looks to snipe and there’s a penalty advantage in the offing. Again though, Munster don’t roll the dice on advantage and Toulouse grind them to a still.

Carbery can kick his side back into the lead here.

Carbery could, but they’re going to tap this penalty five metres out and keep trucking to the line.

Flag

TRY! Munster 23 Toulouse 16 (Coombes’ 50)

Coombes thinks he has it down, it’s a TMO check and it is down. The simplicity of the effort seemed to catch Toulouse unawares. Sensational time for an old-school score.

Carbery adds the conversion.

Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the heft in each collision, but this match reminds me of Munster’s epic semi-final loss to Wasps at Lansdowne Road back in the day.

We’re level again after Keith Earls trips Cheslin Kolbe as he took a high ball on a cross field kick.

Toulouse went direct off the line-out and Marchand rumbled over  near the posts.

Munster 23 Toulouse 23

58 mins: Munster’s attack fizzles out, Toulouse turnover in their 22 and former Connacht man Pita Ahki ignites a thrilling counter attack.

Lebel takes the ball on and chips behind Conway, but he can’t find the regather as Carbery and Conway combine to at least deny him access while the ball bounces out at the hosts’ five metre line.

Clermont-bound JJ Hanrahan (hopefully in more ways than one) is on for the business end of this match in place of Carbery.

He comes in as Munster have Toulouse pinned inside their final third. First Carbery, then Murray and Haley have kept them there by kicking ball deep rather than invite a ruck battle anywhere near the 10.

Now the hosts look to strike with De Allende and Hanrahan switching positions for a set play.

They move wide for Conway, but he is forced inside.

Toulouse are on the rack and Munster stream back left, there’s a try on in the left corner, but James Cronin just can’t get a pass away.

Penalty advantage coming and Munster get it because Earls’ through the legs pass to Conway is forward.

Matthis Lebel, Antoine Dupont. You heartbreakers!

Lebel steps JJ Hanrahan out on the left wing and leaves the Kerryman flat on the ground without so much as a touch on a Toulouse shirt.

Dupont, as always, is in support and canters away under the posts.

Munster 26 Toulouse 30

Toulouse putting their cards on the table now, they want outta here with the win. Ntamack taking on a 52-metre penalty just to keep the gap healthy…. the range was in him, but the accuracy as off to the left  by a degree or two.

Four-point game, eight minutes to go.

James Cronin penalised at a central ruck and Ntamack will get a chance to extend the lead from a good 20 metres closer than his last attempt.

PENALTY! Munster 26 Munster 33 (Ntamack ’75)

The offloads are flying and Dupont is celebrating under the posts again, but we’ve a TMO check before Toulouse can plan their quarter-final weekend in Clermont.

TRY! Munster 26 Toulouse 40 (Dupont ’77)

This is a cruel scoreline on Munster because Toulouse have been put right at the pin of their collar throughout this contest. Just a few late flurries of brilliance and have brought daylight between the teams.

Munster are still ploughing towards the line with big impacts from Chris Farrell and CJ Stander. It’s now too late to restart and get a second try though, so the quest here is for a consolation score.

And they get it through Gavin Coombes, another for his tally.

FULL-TIME Munster 33 Toulouse 40

A gutting outcome for a Munster side who emptied the tank dry in Thomond Park today.

Toulouse are a sensational force, guided by their brilliant young half-backs and they appear in rude health as they chase a fifth European title.

Thanks to stopping in to check the score with us, Garry Doyle will have all the latest from the fall-out at Thomond Park in the minutes and hours ahead.

That’s the Irish interest in the Champions Cup done for the weekend, but Connacht take on Leicester in the Challenge Cup this evening before Ulster tackle Harlequins in their own last 16 tie.

You’ll watch a whole lot of rugby before you are treated to a game as good as Munster 33 Toulouse 40 though.

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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