Munster & Racing Share The Spoils In Thomond Park Champions Cup Thriller

Munster – 21
Racing – 21

Munster and Racing 92 couldn’t be split in an absolute thriller of a Champions Cup meeting in Thomond Park this evening.

The home side will be disappointed they didn’t get the win after an excellent bonus-point victory away to Ospreys last weekend. But in the end, a draw was probably a fair result for both sides who left everything on the pitch in an incredible contest.

The visitors came flying out of the blocks in the opening minute with Simon Zebo taking the ball on at pace before crashing into former teammate JJ Hanrahan to set the tone early.

But after just 7 minutes Munster won a penalty in front of the sticks and JJ Hanrahan stepped up to give the home side an early 3-0 lead. A Peter O’Mahony intercept pass shortly nearly ended in disaster before Keith Earls nearly ran the pitch with an intercept of his own that almost went to hand.

Both teams saw plenty of ball for the next 10 minutes, with Mike Haley impressing for Munster with some lovely breaks and Virimi Vakatawa and Chris Farrell bashing into each other being the highlights.

Then after 20 minutes, the game had its first try thanks to a moment of individual brilliance from Scotland international Finn Russell, who beautifully grubbered the ball in behind the Munster defence before gathering it and touching down. Teddy Iribaren converted to make it 7-3 to the French side.

Four minutes later Simon Zebo threw an uncharacteristic forward pass to Teddy Thomas just outside Racing’s 22 that resulted in a scrum to Munster, which the home side won a penalty from. JJ Hanrahan stepped up again to make it 7-6 after 28 mins.

But just two minutes later some more individual brilliance saw Racing score their second try. A nice break from Simon Zebo put Racing on the front foot before a lovely skip pass out wide was taken by Teddy Thomas. He then chipped the ball over Mike Haley’s head and gathered to make it 12-6 after 30 minutes.

JJ Hanrahan then thought he had scored after he broke through the Racing 92 defence on 34 mins but knocked the ball on over the line thanks to some excellent work in defence from Simon Zebo.

But on 37 minutes the ball went loose and hooker Niall Scannell kicked through before making an incredible shoelace tackle on Racing captain Henry Chavancy. Munster won a penalty thanks to the hooker’s great work and knocked the ball into the corner.

Two minutes later they had their first try thanks to some lovely hands from JJ Hanrahan to Mike Haley who put Keith Earls in at the corner. The Limerick man got the better of Zebo on the outside who will be disappointed to have been beaten by his old teammate. JJ Hanrahan went close with the conversion but missed to make it 14-11 to Racing at the break.

The opening minutes of the second half were scrappy with Iribaren putting the ball straight out after 44 mins with a terrible box kick. Munster soon broke in open field before Racing got pinged for not rolling away. JJ Hanrahan stepped up again to make it 14-14.

But just eight minutes later Racing were in front again with Finn Russell splitting the home side’s defence with a lovely break before putting Juan Imhoff under the posts. Iribaren kicked the conversion to make it 21-14 to the visitors.

The home side started to empty their bench soon after as they looked to get back into the game. Racing once again threatened through Teddy Thomas who broke up the touchline a number of times, but Munster covered well in defence.

Then after 74 minutes, Munster had their second try. A mistake from Racing led to JJ Hanrahan putting Andrew Conway in at the corner with a lovely skip pass. Hanrahan the slotted the conversion from the sideline to make it 21-21 and Thomond Park erupted.

Four minutes later Hanrahan somehow missed a drop goal straight in front of the posts to snatch victory. The spoils were to be shared.

Full-time:

Munster – 21
Racing – 21

Munster scorers:

Tries: Keith Earls, Andrew Conway

Conversions: JJ Hanrahan (1)

Penalties: JJ Hanrahan (3)

Racing 92 scorers:

Tries: Finn Russell, Teddy Thomas, Juan Imhoff

Conversions: Teddy Iribaren (3)

Munster: Mike Haley, Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls, JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (C), Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne (on for Scannell 64), James Cronin (on for Loughman 49), Stephen Archer (on for John Ryan 53), Billy Holland (on for Beirne 61), Fineen Wycherley (on for Jean Kleyn 53), Alby Mathewson (on for Murray 61), Dan Goggin, Arno Botha (on for Jack O’Donoghue 53)

Racing 92: Simon Zebo, Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa, Henry Chavancy (C), Juan Imhoff, Finn Russell, Teddy Iribaren, Eddy Ben Arous, Camille Chat, Cedate Gomes, Donnacha Ryan, Dominic Bird, Wenceslas Lauret, Boris Palu, Anthonie Classen.

Replacements: Teddy Baubigny (on for Ben Arous 54), Hassane Koligar (on for Chat 54) , Ali Oz (on for Gomes 54), Fabien Sanconnie (on for Bird 57), Yoan Tanga (on for Antoine Claassen 80), Antoine Gilbert, Ben Volavola, Brice Dulin (on for Teddy Thomas 64)