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Dublin: 6 °C Wednesday 21 November, 2018
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Bienvenue! We’re in seriously French mood this fine January evening because Munster are in Paris to take on the reigning Top 14 champions Stade Francais.

At stake is nothing less than their hope of sustaining an interest in this competition and you can rest assured that Anthony Foley’s men will be digging deep to throw everything they have at the Stade Jean Bouin today.

There’s just under an hour until kick-off, so go, do what you gotta do, get to a TV or stay here and tell us how you think the game will go.

Comment below, tweet us @Rugby_ie or head on over to our Facebook page. 

Here’s how the sides line up for today’s big game then.

The good news for Munster is that Andrew Conway, Keith Earls and Conor Murray are back fit. Donnacha Ryan misses out with injury, at least they can call on another international lock in Dave Foley to step up.

How about the two number eights though? Two different styles of men at the back of the scrum, but they have excellence in common.

Stade Français Paris: Hugo Bonneval; Julien Arias, Waisea Vuidarvuwalu, Paul Williams, Josaia Raisuqe; Morné Steyn, Julien Dupuy; Zak Taulafo, Laurent Sempéré, Paul Alo Emile, Hugh Pyle, Paul Gabrillagues, Sekou Macalou, Sylvain Nicolas, Sergio Parisse (c)

Replacements: Laurent Panis, Heinke Van der Merwe, Rabah Slimani, Gerhard Mostert, Jonathan Ross, Julien Tomas, Jules Plisson, Jonathan Danty

Munster Rugby: Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha, Dave Foley, Mark Chisholm, Robin Copeland, Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander (c)

Replacements: Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Mario Sagario, Billy Holland, Jack O’Donoghue, Tomas O’Leary, Denis Hurley, Ronan O’Mahony

We’re almost at kick-off. I’ll take you through the 80 minutes here Murray Kinsella is in Paris and his analysis has already started.

Munster and Stade follow Stander and Parisse onto the field through a sudden emission of dry ice around the tunnel.

That’s the end of the pyrotechnics, let the fireworks begin.

KICK-OFF: Conway takes a high kick-off from Steyn and does well to avoid sidestep a full-blooded charge. Keatley clears up to halfway.

2Mins

Dupuy eager to seek out the fringe gap, but Munster alive to danger after the initial break.

4Mins

A good start then from Stade with Raisuqe getting a chance to stretch his legs down the left. They’re eager to get a high tempo here, but Munster doing decent work so far.

8Mins

Conor Murray a tad fortunate to avoid a penalty there after going off his feet in front of Owens. Nicolas did his best to keep the scrum-half in the ruck, but Murray did well to wriggle free of the openside’s grasp.

9Mins

Andrew Conway was struggling after just a few minutes here and he has been replaced by Roman O’Mahony. The bruised him may have flared up for the flier again.

11Mins

Oof. Rough going for Munster in these early stages. BJ Botha follows Andrew Conway to the physio room. John Ryan comes in to the tighthead slot.

13Mins

Superb invention on the right flank from Munster with Keatley running a wrap around with Earls. The 10 chipped on ahead and came within an inch of winning the race to the loose ball, but a TMO check shows he narrowly lost the race.

14Mins

Raisuqe waited and waited – think Clement Poitrenaud in the Heineken Cup final – for the ball to roll over the try-line before putting a fingertip on it.

15Mins

Nigel Owens tells Dupuy “Less of the acting” after the scrum-half tries to… ahem, get a penalty at a bargain price.

15Mins

The latest Keatley kick isn’t so hot, flat and fast across field; too fast for O’Mahony to latch onto.

Still, it was a free play and he can nudge Munster ahead with a penalty.

21Mins

Ouch. That’s a poor miss from there by Keatley. Cut it left of the uprights from a decent angle on the right.

He’s hit and goes down holding his shoulder during the restart, leaving Keith Earls to notch another error on the board with a sliced kick to touch.

22Mins

Not much going Munster’s way, but after 21 minutes away from home  there are worse scorelines you could suffer with than 0 – 0.

24Mins

After a very slow and ponderous attempt at clearing from Zebo, Tommy O’Donnell heads for the sideline for a HIA. Jack O’Donoghue will come in.

Even without the natural seven, Munster’s breakdown work is still functioning very well. They need that to filter to other facets of their game soon.

26Mins

The dry ice pre-match made for some dramatic pictures. If I was Ian Keatley, I’d be delighted with this pic.

Ian Keatley Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

33Mins

Some mild relief for Munster as Tommy O’Donnell has passed his HIA and comes back on in place of O’Donoghue.

There’s more than relief though, Racing’s line-out malfunctions and they soon turn the ball over in the Munster 22. Zebo escapes the red zone and he and Saili fashion a break for O’Mahony. It comes apart, but a great sign of life from the visitors.

34Mins

TRY! Stade Francais 7 Munster 0 (Paul Williams ’34)

35Mins

Disaster for the visitors. The number 12 Williams found a mismatch in midfield and burst through the gap on the 22 and was travelling too quick for the sweeper to keep him off the try-line.

37Mins

PENALTY! Stade Francais 10 Munster 0 (Steyn ’37)

After rolling with the punches for so long, Munster have been cut adrift. A fine penalty kick from Steyn whistles between the posts.

39Mins

We’re seeing some of the back-line tricks come out of the bag from Munster now. Murray runs a wrap-around and attempts to go wide, but there are still white jerseys to thwart them out there.

40Mins

Well, they did enough to suck a penalty out of Laurent Sempéré and Keatley will have a go from distance.

Derek Bevan has asked for play to be stopped before Keatley kicks the pen. Raisuqe has put his hand in the face of Stander and the finger does appear to have dug in a little close to the skipper’s eye.

Flag 41Mins

RED CARD! Raisuqe sent off for attempting to gouge Stander.

Keatley missed the penalty, but Munster have renewed hope of overturning this deficit after the break.

HALF-TIME! Stade Francais 10 Munster 0

40Mins

There are no grey areas when it comes to contact with the eye. Just rare to see it happen out in the open.

Important to note now, as Ulster fans can tell you: an extra man doesn’t always mean open season on points. Teams can dig deep and drag the 15-men into trench warfare.

10 points is a good head-start too, so the big question for Foley’s men is whether they can get consistent varied threats functioning so they can stretch Stade and make good use of the extra body.

40Mins

And we’re under way in the second half. Munster have 40 minutes against 14 men to save their European season.

42Mins

Stade certainly not lacking bodies in the pack, they produce a superb scrum to rock Munster back on their heels. A timely marker from Parisse and co.

47Mins

Stade’s scrum is making mince meat out of the Munster front five at set-piece time. Stander and O’Donoghue carry out the next two phases and restore the front foot, but Keatley’s aim at touch is way overcooked and goes out on the full.

49Mins

Much better kick down the tramlines from Keatley to end an exchange of kick tennis.

Munster can really make hay if they get their kicking right as Stade can’t afford to move an extra man to the back field.

50Mins

The fresh legs will be called upon from here on in, starting with the imposing figure of Jonathan Danty.

51Mins

Ooof. Danty crashes into the Munster line, but gets wrapped up by red jerseys and Munster rip the ball away and scramble clear.

54Mins

Stade somehow engineer numbers out on their left wing, but they blow the overlap and Munster desperately scramble in to frustrate the attack.

Robin Copeland’s discipline has been wavering over the last few minutes and he keeps hands in a ruck to concede a penalty – an easy penalty for a man like Morne Steyn.

PENALTY! Stade Francais 13 Munster 0 (Steyn ’54)

57Mins

Everyone watching is thinking the same thing now: which side is down a man?

Stade turn the screw in the scrum again and march forward with Parisse controlling the ball at the back.

It’s a central penalty from Steyn, but 45 metres out. He looks confident… too confident maybe. He’s missed.

Relief for Munster. They have 23 minutes to score two unanswered converted tries.

58Mins

Mario Sagario comes into the front row and the Uruguayan made an instant difference: the scrum didn’t slide backwards.

61Mins

Stade doing their level best to make the ruck look like a tangle of christmas tree lights. Keatley rips it out and spins wide. Munster work the back move superbly and Scannell goes over in the corner.

We thought it was a try, but a consultation with the TMO finds a forward pass to Scannell. So disappointing.

TRY! Stade Francais 18 Munster 0 (Sekou Macalou)

68Mins

Who cares if you’re down to 14 men if you’ve got a man like Sekou Macalou who can evade four tackles to score a  wonder-try of his own.

The blindside – yes, a flanker – first bumped off Stander, then swatted Keatley away before chaanging pace and leaving Keith Earls for dead.

A devastating blow. Game over for Munster for the 80 minutes and for this European campaign.

Flag 72Mins

TRY! Stade Francais 27 Munster 0 (Bonneval ’72)

This is absolutely dismal from Munster now. The fullback attacks the line out wide and brushes past Simon Zebo.

74Mins

This is absolutely astounding. Stade are the ones now with an eye on the bonus point and they can go hell for leather in search of it too because there is no way Munster will get near them now.

76Mins

TRY! Stade Francais 27 Munster 5 (Murray ’75)

75Mins

So little, so late. Simon Zebo chips ahead and although he’s wrestled away from collecting, Conor Murray gets on the loose ball and spins his way to a touch down.

Scannell hits a beautiful conversion too from the touchline.

Stade Francais 27 Munster 7

80Mins

Munster found some tempo and a sliver of confidence from that try. They’re finishing this game strong, but that will be cold comfort to the supporters who travelled over to follow the men in red.

With the clock red, Parisse got his 14-man team to go from their own try-line. And they bloody made space on the wing for Danty, who charges to halfway.

Mercifully, the pass inside to Willliams was knocked on and Francis Saili touched down behind his own posts.

Au revoir, Munster.

FULL-TIME: Stade Francais 27 Munster 7

How bad is that for Munster, leave aside that shocking display and the table gives you a hint.

Only Treviso anywhere near them with two games remaining in the pool.

pool tab

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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