Racing 39 Munster 22
THE scoreline doesn’t do justice to the effort that Munster put into this clash but in the end missed opportunities, poor finishing and Racing’s class told as Munster realistically bowed out of Europe for another year.
Yes they are still in with a mathematical chance of qualifying, but not claiming a losing bonus point has taken Munster’s fate out of their own hands.
They head into next Sunday’s final clash with Ospreys at Thomond Park with something to play for, no matter how faint the hope is.
This game hinged on decision in the 60th minute when Munster’s Chris Farrell had got over the line but couldn’t touch down and then Jean Kleyn couldn’t get the ball from under his body.
They were awarded a penalty and instead of going for a scrum took the three on offer and as a result took their feet off the Racing throats. Munster just couldn’t finish their attacks the way the home side did and you don’t need to offer Racing any extra incentive.
The French side, through man of the match Virimi Vakatawa, put the boot down after that and handed the hosts back the momentum.
He scored a try and the two others in that final quarter gave them an extra bonus point that few would have considered on the hour mark.
Munster opened the scoring with a Hanrahan penalty after just two minutes and he added to that eight minutes later to give the Reds a 6-0 lead.
The lead was cut a minute later by the concession of a silly penalty by Kleyn with Teddy Iribaren converting.
Racing went to within a point after an audacious reverse pass from Iribaren to Teddy Thomas who finished in the corner. Iribaren missed the conversion but added a long-range penalty two minutes later to put the Parisians ahead by 11-9 after 32 minutes.
Hanrahan had a chance to wrestle back the lead two minutes later but missed a long-range penalty as the Racing pressure continued to mount.
It looked like the French side would score a second try two minutes before half time when Juan Imhoff came in off his wing but a great read by Andrew Conway saw him run from eight metres from his own line to the opposing line untouched. Hanrahan added the extras to give Munster a half-time lead of 16-11.
Racing got the first score of the second half as Iribaren kicked three more but Munster regained their margin when Hanrahan converted a penalty after a big break by Keith Earls.
Iribaren handed the lead back to the French side near the hour mark with another penalty before Farrell got over the line from a move from a five metre lineout but Vakatawa stopped him from rolling over to touch down.
Jean Kleyn went to within a metre two minutes later on penalty advantage and Hanrahan took the three points on offer to put the Reds back in front by two at 22-20 on 64 minutes.
Then another moment of magic from Teddy Thomas and Finn Russell saw Racing back in the driving seat despite a hint of offside by the scorer.
Virimi Vakatawa killed Munster’s dream of European glory with a breakthrough try in the 77th minute to deny the Reds even a losing bonus point with Maxime Machenaud adding the conversion to make it 32-22.
And they weren’t finished as they scored their third try in the final quarter with a bonus point try from Juan Imhoff.
Scorers for Racing: Tries: T Thomas (2), V Vakatawa, J Imhoff. Cons: T Iribaren (1), M Machenaud (2). Pens: T Iribaren (4).
Munster: Try: A Conway, con: JJ Hanrahan. Pens: JJ Hanrahan (5).
MUNSTER M Haley; A Conway, C Farrell, R Scannell, K Earls; JJ Hanrahan, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, S Archer; J Kleyn, B Holland; P O’Mahony (C), J O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.
Replacements: J Loughman for Kilcoyne, J Ryan for Archer (64), A Botha for Kleyn (69), C Cloete for O’Donoghue (72), S Daly for Haley, C Casey for Murray (75).
RACING 92: B Dulin; T Thomas, V Vakatawa, H Chavancy (Capt), J Imhoff, F Russell, T Iribaren; E Ben Arous, C Chat, B Tameifuna; B Palu, D Bird; W Lauret, B Le Roux, A Claassen.
Replacements: T Baubigny for Chat (69), H Kolingar for B Arous , C Gomes Sa for Tameifuna (55), D Ryan, Fabien, M Machenaud for Iribaren (70), B Volavola for Lauret (71), B Sanconnie for Le Roux (72).
Referee: W Barnes (Eng).