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A rematch of last year’s quarter-final, which was decided by place kicks, sees two-time Heineken Champions Cup winners Munster Rugby welcome five-time champions Stade Toulousain to Thomond Park.
Munster won all four of their pool games last term before besting Exeter Chiefs in the two-legged Round of 16. They then exited the competition after a 24-24 draw with Toulouse, losing 4-2 on kicks. The Irish province sit eighth in the United Rugby Championship table with four wins from nine.
Toulouse, meanwhile, managed to progress just one round further in last season’s competition, losing 40-17 to eventual runners-up Leinster Rugby in the final four. Domestically they are in fine form, sitting atop the TOP 14 table with eight wins from 12 games.
The Pool B encounter gets underway at 13:00 (UK & Irish time) and is available to watch on BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport and FloRugby.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ + ⭐️?
Will @StadeToulousain be adding a sixth star to their jerseys in 2023?
👉 https://t.co/hUrwLfpexV pic.twitter.com/wcnyegY7d1
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 5, 2022
Malakai Fekitoa (Munster Rugby centre): “I didn’t realise [how much the Heineken Champions Cup means to Munster] until I came in and saw how not only the club, but the people around the town, and the fans let you know. I think everyone at Munster is very excited for the campaign.”
- Munster Rugby’s Damien de Allende missed more tackles than any other player in last season’s tournament (15).
- Club captain Peter O’Mahony made the most lineout steals in the competition last season, beating the opposition to the ball on six occasions.
- Munster won more turnovers in the 2021/22 competition than any other club (61).
- If selected, John Ryan will make his 50th tournament appearance on Sunday.
- Thomas Ramos was the premier goalkicker for a player who attempted more than 10 shots at goal last season, finishing the season with a success rate of 91%. He missed just two opportunities to score points off the tee.
- Rory Arnold managed to steal an impressive five opposition lineouts against Ulster Rugby in the Round of 16 last season – no player managed more in a single match.
- Stade Toulousain made more offloads last season than any other club (118).
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Munster Rugby’s Heineken Champions Cup campaign began in defeat as Stade Toulousain showcased their quality with a combative 18-13 victory at Thomond Park on Sunday.
Toulouse were physical throughout, with the five-time champions’ maul particularly impressive as Matthis Lebel and Lucas Tauzin crossed for tries, Thomas Ramos adding eight points from the tee.
Munster enjoyed a fast start and Joey Carbery had a prosperous afternoon, dotting down for a try and kicking eight points.
In thick fog, Munster looked strong early on and commanded the opening exchanges as they built a number of phases in the Toulouse half.
Fly-half Carbery saw an early penalty attempt cannon back off the post but was on hand to open the scoring on nine minutes as he dived over the whitewash from close range.
His conversion moved Munster seven points clear, but Toulouse drew level on 22 minutes as they came away from their first visit to the hosts’ 22 with a try.
A wonderful offload from @Dupont9A to set up @tauzin_lucas as @StadeToulousain take the lead 👏#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/GUae2uy4TY
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 11, 2022
The TOP 14 leaders set up a driving maul before shifting the ball wide to wing Lebel, who finished superbly in the corner in a ruthless demonstration of their quality.
Full-back Ramos added the extras before slotting a penalty to give the visitors the lead, but Munster continued to enjoy more of the ball and a Carbery three-pointer saw them go into the break level.
But there was a nightmare start to the second half for the Irish province as another Toulouse maul laid the foundations and replacement wing Tauzin crossed out wide.
And the away side were commanding throughout the second half, restricting Munster to few attacking opportunities and increasing their lead through a Ramos penalty on 71 minutes.
There was brief hope late on for Munster as Carbery nudged his second three-pointer of the game moments before Toulouse scrum-half Antoine Dupont was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, but their experienced opponents saw the game out and held on for an important win.
Both teams’ Round 2 games come a week today, with Munster travelling to Northampton Saints and Toulouse hosting Sale Sharks.
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