O’Mahony proud of rampant Munster
It took Munster a mere 54 minutes to bag a bonus point in Paris as they put Racing 92 to the sword to once again honour the memory of their former captain and coach, Anthony Foley, whose death in October ahead of this Round One game forced the match to be rearranged.
The victory over last season’s finalists and the reigning French champions puts Munster three points clear of Glasgow Warriors at the top of Pool 1 and within a victory over their Scottish rivals at Scotstoun next weekend of a guaranteed ticket into the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup.
“It’s a big win and to get a bonus point in France is right up there for this group. This is an unbelievably difficult place to play and we are very proud of the result,” said Munster skipper Peter O’Mahony. “There is still a lot of work to be done, especially as we have to play three games back-to-back. We will recover from this weekend and get down to some more hard work ahead of what is going to be a seriously hard game against Glasgow.”
The surprise of the opening quarter wasn’t that Munster went on the attack, taking the direct route through their pack and one-out runners, rather it was the determination of Racing’s defence that stood out.
Munster had spent a good deal of that quarter camped close to the opposition line and more than a dozen direct attempts at breaching the try-line were repelled, so when offered a 14th-minute penalty in the shadow of the posts Tyler Bleyendaal took the points.
Simon Zebo was the man to add the touch of subtlety and cross for the opening try, the full-back joining the line on the left and, taking the ball at pace some 12 metres out, he drifted past a soft shoulder to dive over. It was his 50th try for the Irish province.
The third score came from another Bleyendaal penalty awarded close to the Racing posts but, significantly, it had come following a battle of wills with the home side opting for a rolling maul following a line-out deep inside their own 22.
Munster stayed firm and while the maul trundled forward about 10 metres it finally stumbled, referee Matthew Carley awarding the resulting scrum to the away side which put them back on the attack again.
Bleyendaal’s successful kick was followed just over two minutes later by another significant turnover, this time CJ Stander charging down a kick and turning up a little later out on the left to take a pass, hand off the first tackler and touch down despite the attentions of a second and third tackler.
There was a third try on the stroke of half-time – Conor Murray clipping a grubber along the right-hand touchline that popped up perfectly for Andrew Conway as he ran down the line, the touchdown surviving the scrutiny of the TMO looking closely at where his feet were when he caught the ball.
The bonus-point try came eight minutes after the break, a reward for Munster’s patience following repeated Racing infringing, mostly for offside. The penalties were kicked to touch in preparation for Munster’s trademark rolling maul, from where hooker Niall Scannell eventually forced his way over.
Matthieu Voisin dotted down after 62 minutes chasing a kick down the left-hand touchline, somewhat sparing Racing’s blushes.
Hammer blow: Andrew Conway crosses to score Munster’s third try on the stroke of half-time as the Irish side asserted their early dominance in Paris