Munster fall short despite gutsy effort in Toulouse

Reds will still contest the next round of the Heineken Champions Cup
Munster fall short despite gutsy effort in Toulouse

Craig Casey of Munster beats the tackle of Juan Cruz Mallia of Toulouse. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Toulouse 20 Munster 16 

A BRAVE Munster effort ultimately came up just short in an entertaining Round 4 Heineken Champions Cup encounter at Stade Ernest-Wallon on Sunday, as two missed Joey Carbery conversions and a Ben Healy yellow card ultimately proved the difference against powerhouse French outfit Toulouse.

Come kick-off time Munster were aware that they had already secured qualification for the last 16 of the competition, so they were essentially playing for the prize of a home knockout tie.

Toulouse started quickly, with full-back Melvyn Jaminet opened the scoring in just the 2nd minute after Munster captain Peter O’Mahony had been penalised on the deck, and in the seventh minute they scored the opening try of the game through a typically flowing move.

They pummelled at the Munster defensive line with their incredibly high tempo game and despite some brilliant Munster defending the space eventually presented itself as a fantastic looping pass by centre Pita Ahki found Juan Cruz Mallía in acres of space by the right touchline and the right wing had the strength to bounce through the attempted tackle of Shane Daly to score in the corner.

Another Jaminet penalty was slotted in the 16th minute as Munster struggled to get a foothold in the tie.

It took half an hour, but Munster eventually got the score they needed to get up and running when openside John Hodnett crashed over from close range in a move where he carried aggressively on multiple occasions, as the Munster forwards showed the giant Toulouse pack that they were very much in a fight.

Munster out-half Joey Carbery had badly hooked his conversion attempt wide but in the 35th minute, his eye was in when he split the posts with his penalty attempt from 40m after John Ryan had made mincemeat of the vaunted Toulouse scrum, which presented Munster with the platform to win a penalty further up the pitch, within kicking distance of the Toulouse posts.

Toulouse battered at the Munster defensive line straight after, looking for a decisive score before half-time, but it was that man John Ryan who came up trumps for Munster again, with his textbook jackal allowing Carbery to kick to touch to leave the score at 11-8 to Toulouse at the break.

In the 49th minute Munster scored one of the great European tries. The move began with Malakai Fekitoa, Gavin Coombes, Shane Daly and Craig Casey combining on the halfway line with some Harlem Globetrotter-style offloading, and although Casey was halted with a brilliant ankle tap Munster kept the ball alive. 

And when Carbery launched a speculative kick high towards the right touchline Hodnett gathered and fed the onrushing Calvin Nash, who raced toward the line only to be held up short, but his deft offload allowed Tadhg Beirne to touch down for a superb score.

Tadhg Beirne of Munster is congratulated after scores his side's second try at Stade Ernest Wallon. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Tadhg Beirne of Munster is congratulated after scores his side's second try at Stade Ernest Wallon. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Carbery again missed a very kickable-looking conversion, and Munster were made to pay when Jaminet chipped over a simple penalty in the 57th minute to make it 14-13.

Calvin Nash then brilliantly gathered Ben Healy’s resultant kick-off and although Munster failed to get over the Toulouse try-line Healy did slot a three-pointer on the hour mark, to regain the lead.

The lead kept being passed back and forth like a hot potato, with Jaminet maintaining his 100% record with the boot with a 67th-minute penalty.

Ben Healy was shown a yellow card in the 68th minute for what looked like a harsh offence, as his handoff was judged to have been a tad too high on Pierre-Louis Barassi.

This numerical advantage allowed Toulouse to keep Munster pinned in their own half, and Jaminet was able to add another three points in the 74th minute to stretch the lead to four, and Toulouse were able to see it out.

Scorers for Toulouse: Jaminet (5 pens), Mallia (1 try). 

Munster: Carbery (1 pen), Healy (1 pen), Hodnett, Beirne (1 try each). 

TOULOUSE: Jaminet; Mallia, Barassi, Ahki, Delibes; Ntamack, Dupont (c); Baille, Marchand, Aldegheri; Arnold, Meafou; Jelonch, Willis, Roumat.

Subs: Neti and Flament for Baille and Roumat (51), Cros for Meafou (61), Ainuu for Aldegheri (63), Capuozzo for Akhi (67), Brennan for Arnold (70), Cramont for Marchand (75).

MUNSTER: Haley; Nash, Frisch, Crowley, Daly; Carbery, Casey; Kilcoyne, Scannell, Ryan; Kleyn, Beirne; O’Mahony (c), Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.

Subs: Fekitoa for Haley (27), Healy for Carbery (50), Wycherley, Barron and Salanoa for Kilcoyne, Scannell and Ryan (61), Murray for Casey (62), Kendellen for Hodnett (65).

Referee: Christophe Ridley (RFU)

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