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Penalty shootout heartbreak for Munster as Toulouse kick their way to semis

By PA
Members of Stade Toulousain react as Ben Healy of Munster misses his sides second shot on goal during the Heineken Champions Cup Quarter Final match between Munster Rugby and Stade Toulousain (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

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Toulouse were pinpoint accurate in a nerve-jangling penalty shootout at the Aviva Stadium as they knocked Munster out of the Heineken Champions Cup.

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The reigning champions, who fought back to level the game at 24-24 and send it to extra time, will face Leicester Tigers or Leinster in next week’s semi-finals after winning a tense shootout 4-2.

Antoine Dupont split the posts twice for Toulouse, including a key strike from the 10-metre line, with Thomas Ramos and Romain Ntamack also on target.

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Conor Murray and Joey Carbery had successful penalties, but misses from Ben Healy (two) and Murray ended Munster’s campaign in devastating fashion.

The teams, resembling two punch-drunk heavyweights at times, could not be split during an exhausting 100 minutes of rugby. Young replacement Healy missed a last-gasp 56-metre penalty at the end of normal time.

It was 14 points apiece after the opening 40 minutes, Alex Kendellen and Keith Earls crossing for the hosts with Romain Ntamack and Matthis Lebel landing converted tries for Toulouse.

A Mike Haley try and Joey Carbery’s third conversion and lone penalty drove Munster ahead, but the loss of captain Peter O’Mahony to a shoulder injury was keenly felt.

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With a dominant scrum, Toulouse produced a strong finish as Lebel completed his brace and Ramos equalised with a 75th-minute penalty.

Both Healy and Ramos slid drop goal attempts wide during extra-time, as this absorbing quarter-final clash brought back memories of the famous Cardiff-Leicester penalty shootout from 2009.

A typically helter-skelter start saw Munster strike first in the ninth minute, 21-year-old flanker Kendellen bouncing off Dorian Aldegheri to ground the ball.

Firing back quickly, Ntamack seized the ball at the second attempt to score to the right of the posts. Only some excellent maul defence prevented Toulouse from driving through for a second score.

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Nonetheless, with Toulouse’s piledriving scrum forcing penalties, Ntamack’s loop play set up a 25th-minute run-in for winger Lebel. Ramos converted again for a 14-7 lead.

With the interval within reach, Chris Farrell flicked a pass back for Carbery to loft it wide and Earls finished. Having missed an earlier penalty, Carbery nailed the difficult conversion.

Despite a second penalty miss from Carbery, Simon Zebo’s aerial brilliance was matched by a break from Farrell. He sent full-back Haley over for a well-taken converted try.

Toulouse lock Rory Arnold was then binned for a dangerous dump tackle on Zebo, before Carbery used a subsequent penalty to make it 24-14 in the 57th minute.

Despite superb turnovers from O’Mahony and Munster replacement Jason Jenkins, Lebel scampered through from 40 metres out thanks to replacement Peato Mauvaka’s inviting inside pass.

Ramos converted and Munster’s lead was erased soon after, as a scrum penalty delivered three more points. Extra-time was evenly balanced, but heartbreak awaited Munster in the shootout.

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