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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 24 January, 2020


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Good afternoon and welcome to this rescheduled Champions Cup round 1 fixture.

Munster are in Paris, the scene of the tragic death of Anthony Foley in October, but they will be channelling all those powerful emotions towards trying to secure a win to pay tribute to the man.

The hosting fans too have been making efforts to pay tribute to Axel, with sincere signs and gestures evident all over Stade Yves Du Manoir.

Racing 92 fans hold up a banner for the late Anthony Foley in the Stade Yves-du-Manoir before the ground opens Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Kick-off isn’t until 15.45, so grab a refreshment, find a good spot to watch and get pumped.

Here’s a reminder of the teams named for today’s contest which were named yesterday.

The Munster family is well represented in the Paris club, not only with ROG in the coaching box, but former stalwart Casey Laulala lines up in the centre opposite Jaco Taute and James Hart will be alongside the not-Munster related Dan Carter on the bench.

Racing 92

15. Juan Imhoff; 14. Joe Rokocoko, 13. Casey Laulala, 12. Anthony Tuitavke, 11. Teddy Thomas; 10. Benjamin Dambielle, 9. Xavier Chauveau;

1. Khatchik Vartanov, 2. Camille Chat, 3. Luc Ducalcon, 4. Gerbrandt Grobler, 5. Francois van der Merwe, 6. Chris Masoe, 7. Matthieu Voisin, 8. Antonie Claassen

Replacements: 16. Virgile Lacombe, 17. Julien Brugnaut, 18. Cedate Gomes Sa, 19. Ali Williams, 20. So’otala Fa’aso’o, 21. James Hart, 22. Dan Carter, 23. Henry Chavancy


15. Simon Zebo; 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Jaco Taute, 12. Rory Scannell, 11. Ronan O’Mahony; 10. Tyler Bleyendaal, 9. Conor Murray:

1. James Cronin, 2. Niall Scannell, 3. John Ryan; 4. Donnacha Ryan, 5. Billy Holland; 6. Peter O’Mahony (captain), 7. Tommy O’Donnell, 8. CJ Stander

Replacements: 16. Rhys Marshall, 17. Dave Kilcoyne, 18. Stephen Archer, 19. Dave Foley, 20. Jack O’Donoghue, 21. Duncan Williams, 22. Keith Earls, 23. Francis Saili

The teams are out at Stade Yves du Manoir and Ronan O’Gara is among those wearing red number eight jerseys as we prepare for a moment’s applause in tribute to Axel.

2 mins: Excellent start from Rassie’s boys, and Bleyendaal finds a big hole to cut into after a fine barge and offload from O’Donnell.

He’s hauled down 10 metres from the try-line and Racing turnover in time to clear.

Cormac Daly has emailed to correctly point out another Munster alum in the Ciel et Bleu: prop Julien Brugnaut.

6 mins: Racing’s first decent set of attacking phases comes to nothing as Dambielle lofts a kick into the arms of Simon Zebo who comfortably calls a mark.

We’ve got a high tackle call – expect all of these to be controversial – as Tommy O’Donnell is banged by Chris Masoe.

Just a penalty for this one as it’s judged that TOD slipped.

11 mins: Munster look by far the better side out there and the scrum is again causing problems.

Murray whips it wide from a base int he 22 and the line is in sight…

Racing dig deep in defence, but concede a penalty 5 metres out.

Dan Carter came into the game for Dambielle’s HIA.

Munster kick the line-out to the corner. We can all smell the blood there.

13 mins: Niall Scannell barges straight into Carter to wake the Kiwi up. Munster force their way over the line, but it’s held up and we go back for offside penalty.

PENALTY! Racing 0 Munster 3 (Bleyendaal ’14)

O’Mahony decides to accept the option of an easy three points and get Munster on the bard.

Another siege being laid on the Racing line by Munster’s powerful carries from Scannell and Cronin forces a TMO consult as he got close to the whitewash.

20 mins: No try, but Munster have a scrum v to work with after DC departs back to the bench.


TRY! Racing 0 Munster 8 (Zebo ’22)

Munster force a penalty from the scrum v and they link together to go again.

Scannell bursts for a gap off Murray’s pass and Munster recycle well to put Zebo in space.


Bleyendaal’s conversion out wide is off the mark, but Zebo’s finish and the clear-outs from Munster were absolutely spot on.

27 mins: Ouch. Bleyendaal just overcooks a kick for touch from his 22 and undoes the work of another solid scrum.

Aside from that, Munster look brilliantly calm and clinical so far.

Some important stats about Simon Zebo after that try. It’s his eighth January European try in just five years and he’s the first Munster player to hit the 50 mark.

Brilliant work from Donnacha Ryan with that mad look in his eyes to thwart a defensive Racing maul. From Munster’s attack in the 22, CJ Stander breaks a tackle and is within a foot of the line, but Racing plug up the breakdown again and Munster have another easy penalty option to stretch the lead.

Penalty! Racing 0 Munster 11 (Bleyendaal ’33)

Not only did CJ Stander keep tacklers at bay as he sprinted into the corner from 15 metres out, the South African also brought about the field position with an excellent chargedown.

Tyler B is on target with the conversion and Munster are now humming on all cylinders.

Racing 0 Munster 18


TRY! Racing 0 Munster 23 (Conway ’40)

Conor Murray breaks out the advantage play, a chip through the D line after a penalty was coming off a scrum. The ball sits up nicely for Andrew Conway and Munster are one try away from a bonus point.


HALF-TIME: Racing 0 Munster 25 

Bleyendaal adds the conversion with another beautifully struck effort from the touchline. The hosts may have a second string out, but this is still mighty impressive from Rassie’s boys.

Racing start the second half brightly, winning a penalty 30 metres out. They point to the corner and Munster infringe again on the resulting ruck.

Discipline has to be spot on again if this half if Munster are to avoid any drama.

Murray clears the lines after more good maul D breaks the Racing attack down into a scrap.

48 mins: Munster having to rack up some tackles in this half as they haven’t yet shown the clinical edge of the first 40. Scannell’s chip over the top just outside his own 22 is indicative of some lost intensity.

Speaking of the i word, Jack O’Donoghue is in to add his weight to the back row. Tommy O’Donnell makes way after an excellent 48 minutes.

51 mins: A brilliant scrum, led by John Ryan, gives Munster a foothold in the French half.

There’s not many gaps in the Racing line this early in the half, but a penalty comes for hands on the ball and Tyler boots the ball to the corner.

Munster’s line-out is still humming nicely, forcing two consecutive penalties.

Munster try to go wide off the second one, but Zebo gets wrapped up trying to slip inside two defenders.

Referee gives Racing a warning, but they’ve been incessantly spoiling play in their own 22.

The warning had the desired effect and there’s no stopping the Munster maul at the third time of asking. and the hooker deservedly takes the score on a night of excellent line-out throwing.

Keith Earls is introduced from the bench. Remember: points difference can make all the difference when ranking teams for the quarters.

It’s gonna be a tough 20 minutes for the Racing players out there. The game is gone, but every man in red is hungry to make an impact and eager to extend the lead.

The southern province are just starting to look like the team that belongs in a home quarter-final again.

After a long check for offside with the TMO, the flanker’s try is awarded after he wins the race to a ball kicked to the try-line.

Imhoff looked to be the favourite for the ball, but Andrew Conway pulled him back by the shoulder.

Dan Carter added the conversion.

71 mins: Juan Imhoff showing plenty of fight in a very literal sense. He and Jack O’Donoghue get into a grapple on the deck after the Waterford man hauled him to the ground.

Munster just being a tad frustrated in their search for the fifth try and Donnacha Ryan bows out of the contest after a Trojan effort.

Credit Racing here, they were completely out fought in the first half, but refused to wilt in the second period and continue to make life difficult.

We’re playing to a standstill in Paris with two minutes to go.

Here’s how Munster’s pool and, crucially the overall chase for quarter-final berths look after a job very well done from Rassie Erasmus’ charges.

mun table

top 8

About the author:

Sean Farrell