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Munster survive late Castres scare in Champions Cup

By PA
PA

Jack O’Donoghue’s first Heineken Champions Cup try proved crucial as Munster struggled past Castres Olympique 19-13 scoreline at Thomond Park.

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Ben Healy, who deputised at fly-half for the injured Joey Carbery, kicked three penalties to give Munster a 9-3 lead at the end of a forgettable first half.

Damien De Allende had a try ruled out and Castres got off the mark late on through the boot of Benjamin Urdapilleta.

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With their recent Covid-19 disruptions causing a general rustiness, Munster’s performance was very flat compared to last week’s youthful exuberance against Wasps.

O’Donoghue’s 57th-minute effort, coupled with Healy’s fourth penalty, was enough to seal the result, but Castres bagged a deserved bonus point thanks to Kevin Kornath’s late try.

The early stages were eaten up by a series of scrums before Healy hoofed a 47-metre penalty through the posts in the seventh minute.

Loic Jacquet forced a turnover penalty but his Castres side had a subsequent decision overturned as number eight Kornath was pinged for ripping off John Hodnett’s scrum cap at a maul.

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There were some niggly exchanges – these teams have plenty of history together with this being their 17th Champions Cup clash – and a mistimed Munster lineout allowed Castres to clear.

Lifting the pace, Andrew Conway used a cross-field kick to chip through and Tadhg Beirne managed to win a penalty in the Castres 22, which Healy sent over for 6-0.

De Allende was involved twice in a swarming Munster attack, which deserved a try. However, TMO Ian Tempest said that the Springbok had lost control of the ball in the act of scoring, with Santiago Arata Perrone’s knee making contact with it.

Healy and Urdapilleta traded penalties to maintain the six-point gap, the game still waiting to catch fire in front of a subdued home crowd.

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Into the second half, Castres’ Thomas Larregain pulled a long-range penalty wide and Bastien Guillemin was fingertips away from turning a Keith Earls pass into an intercept try.

Healy was then wide with a penalty effort from halfway, before O’Donoghue showed great strength to reach over in the right corner.

The TMO’s decision went Munster’s way after the number eight managed to just about ground the ball with two defenders hanging off him.

Healy’s excellent conversion was cancelled out by another Urdapilleta penalty, yet Castres were left frustrated when back-chat from replacement Rory Kockott twice moved Munster penalties forward.

A fourth penalty from Healy followed, only for Castres to have the better of the final 10 minutes despite playing with 14 men due to replacement Antoine Zeghdar’s injury.

Kornath impressively spun out of a couple of tackles to make the line in the 76th minute, with Urdapilleta’s simple conversion securing the bonus point for the visitors.

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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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J
Jon 8 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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