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Munster reel in Russell's Racing

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Munster reel in a Finn Russell-inspired Racing 92 for draw

By PA Authors
By Online Editors

It was a tale of two fly-halves at Thomond Park as JJ Hanrahan kicked Munster to a dramatic 21-21 draw with a Finn Russell-inspired Racing 92.

Hanrahan was ice cool when converting Andrew Conway’s 75th-minute try from the right touchline, but then snatched at a late drop goal attempt from in front of the posts for the win.

Leading 14-11 at half-time thanks to terrific scores from Russell and Teddy Thomas, Racing were on course to become the first French winners of a Heineken Champions Cup game in Limerick since Clermont in December 2014.

Munster were briefly level thanks to Keith Earls’ late first-half try and JJ Hanrahan’s third successful penalty, but despite a Juan Imhoff try opening up a seven-point gap, the hosts slammed it shut through Conway and Hanrahan.

The fourth and final Irish-French encounter of the weekend was evenly balanced early on, with former Munster favourites Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo both impressing for Racing.

(Continue reading below…)

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Munster were first on the board, Hanrahan’s ninth-minute penalty rewarding a jinking break from eager full-back Mike Haley. With the wily Ryan proving a thorn in the side of Munster’s lineout, Racing laid down a few markers. The biggest of them was Russell’s sensational 19th-minute try.

Armed with a penalty advantage, the 27-year-old stand-off brilliantly nutmegged Rory Scannell with a deft kick and picked up to score a converted try from a few metres out.

Hanrahan’s second penalty came on the back of a strong Munster scrum, but Thomas quickly snuck through via his own chip kick to touch down and reward some fine build-up play by Teddy Iribaren, a late inclusion at scrum-half, and Zebo.

 

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He makes his return to Thomond park tomorrow. #Munster #Racing92

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Iribaren’s left boot pushed it out to 14-6 and Zebo foiled Hanrahan as Munster hunted down an elusive try. That score arrived just before the break, Earls nipping over in the corner past Zebo with Haley providing the assist.

Although Hanrahan was unable to convert, he nailed a 47th-minute penalty to make it 14-14. His opposite number Russell had other ideas and expertly put Imhoff through just moments later. Throwing a dummy, the Scotland star took advantage of a limping Jeremy Loughman to ghost through a gap and connect with Imhoff for another classy seven-pointer.

Haley breathed a sigh of relief of when his penalty went unpunished by a rare Iribaren miss. For most of the final quarter, it was Munster dictating with their bench having a big say.

Having been stopped a few metres out previously, Conway finished in the corner after plenty of grunt from the Munster pack and well-directed passes from influential replacement Alby Mathewson and Hanrahan.

The Kerry native stepped up to land the all-important conversion, and just as Munster appeared to be building for a smash-and-grab finish, Hanrahan pulled his drop-goal shot away to the left of the posts.

– Press Association 

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Munster reel in a Finn Russell-inspired Racing 92 for draw
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