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Munster’s best effort not good enough in ‘La Defense’

Heineken Champions Cup, Pool 4:
Racing ‘92’ 39, Munster 22
THE dream was very much alive at half time with Andrew Conway’s intercept try a few minutes before the break giving Munster a half time lead of 11-16. It was an impressive opening 40 minutes from the Irish province. They led 9-0 afte17 minutes, JJ Hanrahan kicking three penalties. Racing had a lot of the ball after that and when Jean Kleyn was unfairly whistled for obstruction, Iribaren reduced the lead to 3-9. On 30 minutes an outrageous long pass from the Racing scrum-half Iribaren sent Teddy Thomas over but scrun half missed the conversion. Iribaren kicked his second penalty to make it 11-9, Hanrahan then missed from distance but when it looked as if Racing would increase their lead, Conway intercepted inside his own 22 and nobody was going to stop him from there to the try line. JJ’s conversion put Munster 11-16 in front.
Both sides traded penalties as the game headed towards the final quarter and it was 17-19 in favour of Munster coming up to the 55th minute. On 61 minutes the Reds led 20-22 thanks to another penalty from Hanrahan and they went very close to scoring a second try only for Chris Farrell to be held up on the line. Minutes later they were turned over just outside the French 22 and that was to be their last chance. Racing got a new lease of life when they emptied their bench and they surged forward to score three late tries from Teddy Thomas , Vakatawa and left wing Juan Imoff, two converted by replacement Maxime Machenaud.
It was a good performance from Munster. They fought for every inch, defended heroicly for three quarters of the game and just came up short on the few occasions that they had possession close to the French line. Tired legs and limbs eventually took their toll. Munster had no answer to that last ten minutes of pressure from the home side and, not surprisingly, this game was won in the final stages. The result means that, barring a miracle, Munster will not be involved in the quarter finals. They will look back on chances missed in the pool games, that drop goal chance that drifted inches wide at the Ballynanty end of Thomond Park against Racing; the poor option late in the away game against Saracens as well as allowing the latter to take a losing bonus point from Limerick.
Today Munster cannot be faulted for their effort but, to be honest, they do not have the quality at present that would make them serious Heineken Cup contenders. This defeat comes on the back losses to Edinburgh, Saracens, Leinster and Ulster and they will spend the rest of the season concentrating on the Guinness PRO14 and musing on how to beat Leinster.
Racing 92: 15. Brice Dulin, 14. Teddy Thomas, 13. Virimi Vakatawa, 12. Henry Chavancy (c), 11. Juan Imhoff, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Teddy Iribaren, 1. Eddy Ben Arous, 2. Camille Chat, 3. Ben Tameifuna, 4. Boris Palu, 5. Dominic Bird, 6. Wenceslas Lauret, 7. Bernard Le Roux, 8. Antonie Claassen.
Replacements: 16. Teddy Baubigny, 17. Hassane Kolingar, 18. Cedate Gomes Sa, 19. Donnacha Ryan, 20. Fabien Sanconnie, 21. Maxime Machenaud, 22. Ben Volavola, 23. Olivier Klemenczak,
Munster: 15. Mike Haley, 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Chris Farrell, 12. Rory Scannell, 11. Keith Earls, 10. JJ Hanrahan, 9. Conor Murray, 1. Dave Kilcoyne, 2. Niall Scannell, 3. Stephen Archer, 4. Jean Kleyn, 5. Billy Holland, 6. Peter O’Mahony (c), 7. Jack O’Donoghue, 8. CJ Stander.
Replacements: 16. Kevin O’Byrne, 17. Jeremy Loughman, 18. John Ryan, 19. Arno Botha, 20. Chris Cloete, 21. Craig Casey, 22. Dan Goggin, 23. Shane Daly,

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