Johann Van Graan’s men became only the second side to earn a Heineken Champions Cup triumph at Stade Marcel Michelin to continue their unbeaten start to the season.
Three turnovers from Irish loose forward CJ Stander helped Munster turn the tide and reverse a 19-point deficit as they downed Clermont 39-31. As the game neared the end, Stander was seen enjoying one of his turnovers smiling in the middle of the maul.
He scored a try in the win, which was described by fans as ‘right up there’ with historic wins of the past for the club.
? Man of the Match CJ Stander scored a try, made 9 tackles, won 3 turnovers & carried 10 times in Munster’s stunning 39-31 @ChampionsCup pool victory over Clermont Auvergne in France tonight. Impressive! #LLSport @Limerick_Leader #ASMvMUN #Munster ?
— Colm Kinsella (@ckSportLeader) December 19, 2020
Absolutely incredible stuff from Munster this evening. Josh Wycherley announcing himself at the top stage, CJ Stander playing like a maniac, JJ Hanrahan nailing it when he really needed to. Right up there with the miracle match of 03, Sale in 06 and Northampton in 2011.
— Neil Treacy (@neil_treacy) December 19, 2020
In my sleep tonight I will see CJ Stander smiling while holding up that maul. It will be my favourite dream ever
— Eddie Barron (@EddieBarron) December 19, 2020
My Picture of the night ?
— Daithi O’S (@hakaman) December 19, 2020
Lions Test 8 at the moment
— Gman66 (@Gmanbfc66) December 19, 2020
Super performance by CJ and team and sound of CJ to mention the 50 strong Munster squad
— Jason Flannery (@JasonFlannery9) December 19, 2020
Lucky to have him, players like him make Munster great in all codes, choke tackle was immense.
— Aine Cahill (@ABC78) December 19, 2020
— Dr Lisa Ryan (@LisRyan_Nutri) December 19, 2020
— Peter Hatton (@hatton_peter) December 19, 2020
CJ Stander. Holy mother of God. #SUAF
— Niamh ?? (@NiamhoNiamh) December 19, 2020
CJ Stander was award the Man of the Match for his starring role in the victory and was overcome with emotion in his post-match speech.
“That first quarter was very, very difficult, their try was probably the quickest one in the competition this year anyway. They put us under massive pressure, to comeback from that is massive for this team.
“These guys train hard, there’s two guys with new caps, it’s unbelievable. I can’t wait to get back into that changing room and just thank them. The lads put their hands up to come back from that first quarter.
Stander said the belief did not waiver at halftime and credited the entire squad in their preparation for lifting the side to the win.
“We said to ourselves at halftime, when we get out there, score more points and that’s what we did. That was a full 50-man squad from the whole week’s training to put us through this.”
Coach Van Graan mirrored Stander’s view, and credited the team’s off-season work to get them into a position to come away with a win like this in Europe.
“We definitely thought we could win, we came here to win, we didn’t come here to get a bonus point and the message at half-time was that ‘if we believe in our plan and stick to the process we will win this game’,” he said.
“I asked the 23 guys to stick to what we do, we spoke a lot in the week and credit to the players because they believed until the final second of this game.
“What we have done over the last six or seven months and all the work we’ve put in over lockdown, all the fitness we have done and small tweaks to our plan gave us belief.
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