Foley's Munster earn bonus-point win to lift spirits at Thomond Park

The southern province were much-improved after last weekend’s defeat in Paris.

Munster 26

Stade Français 13

ANTHONY FOLEY’S MUNSTER earned a much-needed win at Thomond Park as they scored four tries to see off Stade Français in Pool 4 of the Champions Cup.

Simon Zebo celebrates his try with Francis Saili Zebo was among the try scorers. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

There was little on the line aside from pride, but that proved to be motivation enough as Foley’s men delivered a vastly-improved performance after last weekend’s depressing defeat in Paris.

There remain important months ahead for Munster and Foley, but this was heartening for their morale and the belief of the loyal 14,000 or so fans who turned up at a bitterly-cold Thomond Park.

Captain CJ Stander was immense in earning the man-of-the-match award, with Mike Sherry, Simon Zebo, Keith Earls and the number eight scoring the all-important tries. Ian Keatley was far better at out-half on a positive day for the province. 

Earls’ stunning try was perhaps the highlight of the game and came at a crucial time, sending Munster into the break with a 12-6 lead. The right wing ducked inside after a poor pass from Francis Saili, dancing through the Stade defence and scorching home from 50 metres out to show his enduring quality in front of Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

Foley’s men had started in agonising fashion as they blocked Stade’s chase from the very first kick-off, allowing Steyn to kick the French side in front.

Munster, however, were the opening try scorers. A series of scrums in the Stade 22 ended with the home team securing a penalty and opting for the corner. From there, their power was too much and Sherry burst emphatically over the tryline at the tail.

Keatley was wide to the right with the conversion, before Munster’s attack went determinedly at the Stade defence for a 15-minute period but came up with no further scoreboard pressure.

Steyn’s 37th-minute penalty, after he had missed with his second kick at goal, appeared to ensure that Stade would be in front at the interval, but Earls would have the final say to send the Thomond crowd into raptures.

Mike Sherry celebrates with his teammates after scoring the first try Sherry scored Munster's first from the maul. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Things got even better after the break, as Munster almost immediately scored their third try. Keatley dinked a delicious chip in behind the advancing Stade defence, allowing Zebo to race onto the bouncing ball and gather at full speed to touch down under the posts.

The conversion made it 19-6, but then Munster lost the otherwise excellent Ronan O’Mahony to the bin for 10 minutes, referee JP Doyle deciding the wing illegally took out Stade fullback Hugo Bonneval in the air.

Munster’s defensive response was superb as they strung together huge hits and regular choke tackles. It was actually after O’Mahony’s return that they conceded a try to Stade. Their defensive lineout was overthrown and Jono Ross was slipped into a hole behind the set-piece as Munster looked to recover. Far too easy, with Steyn converting.

Again, the Munster reaction was excellent. They shifted the ball wide right in the Stade 22, drawing a breakdown penalty and quick-tapping through Conor Murray. On the next phase, the irrepressible Stander smashed over from close range.

Keatley’s conversion from wide on the right put Munster into a strong enough position to empty their bench, with first year academy prop Liam O’Connor getting a debut at loosehead.

A heartening day for Munster, and one that was badly needed.

Munster scorers:

Tries: Mike Sherry, Keith Earls, Simon Zebo, CJ Stander

Conversions: Ian Keatley [3 from 4]

Stade Français scorers:

Tries: Jono Ross

Conversions: Morné Steyn [1 from 1]

Penalties: Morné Steyn [2 from 3]

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell (Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino ’61), Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray (Tomás O’Leary ’74); Dave Kilcoyne (Liam O’Connor ’77), Mike Sherry (Niall Scannell ’69), Mario Sagario (John Ryan ’49); Dave Foley, Mark Chisholm (Donnacha Ryan ’49); Billy Holland (Robin Copeland ’69), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander (capt.) (Jack O’Donoghue ’74).

STADE FRANÇAIS: Hugo Bonneval; Waisea Vuidarvuwalu, Jonathan Danty, Paul Williams, Julien Arias; Morné Steyn (Jules Plisson ’74), Julien Dupuy (Julien Tomas ’74); Zak Taulafo (Heinke van der Merwe ’49), Laurent Panis, Rabah Slimani (Paul Alo Emile ’55); Paul Gabrillagues, Pascal Papé (Hugh Pyle ’66); Sekou Macalou (Sylvain Nicolas ’58), Jono Ross, Sergio Parisse (capt.).

Replacements: Zurabi Zhvania, Jérémy Sinzelle.

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