Castres – 13
Munster – 12
Munster will have to win their remaining two pool games to stand any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions Cup after falling to a point defeat in a feisty affair against Castres.
The Irish men came out on the right side of a result against Castres last weekend in Thomond Park (30-5) in what was a dull game. The return leg, however, was a lot more entertaining as both sides went hammer and tongs in search of the victory.
Munster could have won the game, but are left to rue four missed penalties on a night were tries were hard to come by.
Joe Carbery returned to the side after being pulled from the match-day squad at the final hour last week, and the out-half kicked Munster into the lead from long-range before Benjamin Urdapilleta levelled matters for the French champions.
The ever-impressive CJ Stander steadied the Munster ship when he blasted through the Castres defence to gain some vital territory. Carbery then took a massive hit on the next phase that may have played its part in his first missed penalty moments later, he did recover though to put the Munster men back in front.
Their lead would last all of five minutes as Castres responded with a lengthy onslaught of pick-and-drives. In the end, it was Paea Fa’anunu who got over the line to give the home side the lead for the first time int he game.
It was during this phase of play that saw the games controversial moment as Chris Cloete was alleged to have been eye gouged, however, no action was taken by referee Wayne Barnes.
Carbery pegged Munster back after the restart bringing the game to 10-9, but their momentum was stuttered as Rory Scannell was sin-binned before Urdapilleta edged the home side four points in front once more with their first and only points of the second half.
Munster continued to fight with 14 men as Carbery kept them in touching distance.
Then came the game’s defining moment as Andrew Conway looked to have scored the elusive try followed a beautiful kick and chase. However, the try was written off due to a knock on whilst grounding.
Despite their best efforts, Johann Van Grann’s side leaves the South of France with just a losing bonus point. With Pool 2 wide open now after four rounds, Munster needs to win their final two games to qualify.
Tries: P Fa’anunu
Conversions B Urdapilleta 1/1
Penalties: B Urdapilleta 2/3, S Spedding 0/1
Penalties: J Carbery 4/7, C Murray 0/1
Scott Spedding; Martin Laveau, Thomas Combezou (Robert Ebersohn ’59), Florian Vialelle, Taylor Paris, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Rory Kockott (Ludovic Radosavljevic ’59)
Paea Fa’anunu (Antoine Tichit ’55); Kevin Firmin, Marc Clerc (Wilfrid Hounkpatin ’41), Thibault Lassalle (Christophe Samson ’59), Loic Jacquet, Yannick Caballero, Mathieu Babillot (capt), Maama Vaipulu.
Mike Haley, Andrew Conway, Sam Arnold, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls, Joey Carbery (JJ Hanrahan ’72), Conor Murray:
Dave Kilcoyne (Jeremy Loughman ’74), Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Billy Holland (Fineeen Wycherly ’75), Peter O’Mahony (capt), Chris Cloete (Arno Botha ’65), CJ Stander.