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Dublin: 13 °C Saturday 21 September, 2019


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Munster 29-6 Racing Metro

Good afternoon, and welcome to our liveblog. Here are the teams:

Munster: F Jones; D Howlett capt, K Earls, J Downey, S Zebo; Ian Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, BJ Botha; D O’Callaghan, D Ryan; P O’Mahony, T O’Donnell, J Coughlan.

Replacements: D Varley, W du Preez, J Ryan, B Holland, P Butler, D Williams, JJ Hanrahan, C Laulala.

Racing Metro 92: G Germain, J Jane, G Bousses, A Dumoulin, S Bobo, O Barkley, M Belie, J Brugnaut, B Noirot, B Sa, K Ghezal, F Metz, A Batut, B Le Roux, J Cronje,

Replacements: T Bianchin, A Lo Cicero, JP Orlandi, J Qovu Nailiko, B Fall, S Dellape, S Descons, M Matadigo,

So a quick poll before we get started. Will Munster qualify for the next round?

Poll Results:

No (632)
Yes (392)
Other (159)

(General view of the coin toss with referee Wayne Barnes and Munster’s Doug Howlett with Jacques Cronje of Racing Metro – INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

There’s several permutations that can result from today’s game. Here’s one of the more unlikely ones:

Munster, led by Doug Howlett, have emerged from the dressing room to a rousing reception.

We’re underway…

It’s a good start for Munster. Ian Keatley has kicked to the corner following some early pressure.

It’s perfect conditions for try-scoring incidentally, which will obviously suit Munster.


Antoine Batut has been sent off already for a knee to the head.

It’s difficult to see it properly from replays, but it appeared harsh.

Munster have just wasted an excellent opportunity to score a try.

Keith Earls receives the ball deep in the visitors’ 22, but he backs himself to get over the line, when he would have been better off passing it to one of his colleagues in a better position.

Racing clear their lines shortly thereafter.

Ian Keatley has just accidentally smacked the ball straight at Wayne Barnes.

That looked a sore one.

Racing 3-0 Munster: Munster have been sloppy in recent minutes and they’ve been made to pay.

They concede a penalty, which Germain subsequently slots over comfortably (11 mins).

Munster currently have a scrum on the Racing 22.

The hosts have dominated territory-wise, but they haven’t really played the kind of flowing, attacking rugby that they aspire to, as of yet.

So 18 minutes gone and Munster still haven’t scored.

As the game develops though, the extra man for the Irish side and their dominance of possession will surely tell, as Racing grow weary from being made to work so hard.

Racing certainly are making life incredibly difficult for Munster at the moment, wh0 look a little short on ideas at the moment.

We’re over halfway through the first half of a game that’s been filled with stoppages, which will frustrate the home side.

Any suggestions that the French team would roll over, given that they have little to play form, have undoubtedly been proven incorrect at this stage.

It’s all gotten a little heated, as a few minor scuffles break out.

The referee decides not to issue anyone with a yellow however, and Munster retain their original penalty.


Munster 7-3: Racing: Conor Murray retrieves the ball deep in opposition territory, and shows remarkable power to drive over the line despite the attention of a few Racing tacklers (26 mins).

Keatley then makes no mistake with the conversion.


Munster 12-3 Racing: Lovely flowing rugby from Munster.

Keatley passes it to Earls who gives it to the onrushing Simon Zebo, and he crosses over the line unchallenged (28 mins).

Keatley slices the conversion just wide.

Munster 12-6 Racing: Racing produce an immediate response.

They win a penalty, which Germain expertly kicks over (30 mins).


Munster 17-6 Racing: Munster win a lineout in the opposition 22, and Sherry subsequently drives over the line (35 mins).

Keatley then hits the post with his conversion.

So Munster have really come to life in the past 15 minutes or so following an unpromising start.

They now just need one more try for the bonus point.


So half-time, and it’s been a relatively satisfactory opening 40 minutes as far as Munster are concerned.

The home side are now well in control of the contest, though looked less than assured in the opening 20 minutes, despite Racing being reduced to 14 men early on.

Racing proved claims they would be no pushovers, as they consistently frustrated Munster initially.

In the closing stages of the first period however, the hosts improved immeasurably, opening up their opponents at will and scoring three tries to boot.

The fact that Racing have a man less and spent most of that first half chasing the ball will also work to the Irish side’s advantage, with the visitors likely to tire as the game develops.

Saracens are currently leading Edinburgh 19-7, with Chris Ashton among the try scorers.

The second half is underway…

(Munster’s players with referee Wayne Barnes after the ball hits him – INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

It’s been a quiet enough start to the second half, in stark contrast with the end of the first.

Yet as I type, Munster win a lineout in the Racing 22.


Munster 24-6 Racing: The ball is passed out to Simon Zebo following a period of sustained pressure and he kicks the ball through before outpacing his opponent and collecting it again for an extremely well-taken try (48 mins).

Munster have their bonus point, and Keatley manages to kick the conversion too.


Munster 29-6 Racing: Another extremely well-worked try, as the ball finds its way out to Zebo following a series of passes, and he dashes over the line for his hat-trick (54 mins).

Keatley misses the conversion, but it hardly matters.

Fantastic solo run from Tommy O’Donnell, who is tackled just short of the line. He must be a contender for Man of the Match.

There’s no sign of Munster’s intensity dropping, despite having the bonus point secured.

Just over ten minutes remain. The game has now, somewhat predictably, hit a bit of a lull, and a number of Munster changes have been made.

It’s been a wonderful performance from the home side, and they very much deserve their place in the quarters (assuming they get it).

Charlie Hodgson has just got a bonus point try for Saracens, so that means Munster will almost definitely be playing a quarter-final away from home.

“Most Irish people will now be 100% behind Munster,” says the Sky commentator, seemingly forgetting that Ulster are still in the competition.

It’s now finished in the other game and Saracens have beaten Edinburgh 40-7.

Racing are down to 13 men, as Matadigo has been sin-binned for a tackle off the ball.

Simon Zebo has unsurprisingly been named Man of the Match.


So the only result that can send Munster out is for Toulouse to lose (pardon the pun) against Leicester while scoring four tries in the process.

Either way, it’s a fantastic achievement for Rob Penney and his men, in his first year in charge of the province.

So plenty of positives for Munster to take from that performance – Murray, Zebo, O’Mahony and O’Donnell were all particularly impressive.

Following a slow start, Rob Penney’s enterprising brand of rugby paid off, as the hosts secured a comprehensive bonus point victory, albeit against a team who had nothing to play for and competed with 14 men for the majority of the contest.

Consequently, barring a freak victory in the Leicester game, they are in the next round, and they’ll surely be a team that most sides will want to avoid on basis of this afternoon’s performance.

Right, that’s it from me.

Thanks for reading and commenting, and stay tuned for the result of the Leicester-Toulouse game, which should confirm Munster’s progression to the quarters.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy