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Repeat of 2018 semi-final as Munster and Racing clash in Heineken Champions Cup cracker
Munster Rugby host Racing 92 at Thomond Park on Saturday night in what looks like a cracking renewal of the 2018 Heineken Champions Cup semi-final, with live coverage from BT Sport, beIN SPORTS and FR2.
Racing 92 came out on top in that clash in 2018 and defeated Saracens 30-10 in their season opener last week while Munster Rugby picked up all five points in a 32-13 win over Ospreys.
Johann van Graan (Munster): “They were phenomenal in Europe over the past few seasons. The first game that I watched from Munster just before I started was Racing versus Munster at Thomond Park. And after 60 minutes, the score was still zero all – an incredible game of rugby. That was my first live European experience at Thomond Park, and I know there are a few Irish men in the Racing team, so that will add a bit. [A] phenomenal team, they knocked us out in the semi-final two seasons ago. They’ve got world-class players all over the pitch, very good coaching staff and a proud history in this competition.”
Laurent Travers (Racing 92): “I’ve played there quite a few times and when you set foot inside the stadium, you realise that for them it’s like a religion. Sundays are either going to mass or to watch Munster and that’s a key feature of Thomond Park. As for us, we’ll be ready and I think that the players will be keen to deliver and make sure that the White and Sky Blues will be well represented at Thomond Park in that game.”
#ICYMI Round 1️⃣ was 🔥
Big wins for @racing92, @ASMOfficiel, the Irish provinces and @ExeterChiefs set the opening weekend alight 🎇
While @SaintsRugby and @StadeToulousain impress as well… 👏
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) November 18, 2019
- Munster have won four of their six pool games against Racing 92 in the Heineken Champions Cup, however, they lost their last such fixture 34-30 in Round 5 of the 2017/18 season.
- Munster have won 30 of their 31 home games against TOP 14 opposition in the Heineken Champions Cup, including their last seven on the bounce.
- Racing were defeated by Ulster in their last away game in the Heineken Champions Cup, breaking a four-game winning streak in such matches.
- Munster have lost just two of their last 16 pool games in the Heineken Champions Cup (W12, D2), although both defeats in that spell came against TOP 14 opposition (v Racing 92 and Castres Olympique).
- Munster were one of just two sides to maintain a 100% success rate at both scrum and lineout in Round 1 (also Montpellier).
- Racing 92 beat the most defenders (49) in the opening round, as well as making the joint most breaks (20, level with ASM Clermont Auvergne).
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Munster Rugby and Racing 92 fought out a tremendous 21-21 draw in a dramatic Heineken Champions Cup Pool 4 clash at Thomond Park on Saturday night.
Tries from Racing 92’s Finn Russell, Teddy Thomas and Juan Imhoff were matched by scores from Munster wings Keith Earls and Andrew Conway, as well as 11 points from the boot of JJ Hanrahan.
The hosts started on top as Racing 92 conceded a penalty at the breakdown for not rolling away on eight minutes, allowing Munster to take an early shot at the posts. Hanrahan – returning from injury for the match – made no mistake and put the hosts ahead.
With the game swinging from end to end, Racing struck just before the 20 minute mark.
With penalty advantage being played, Russell dinked a delightful ball in behind Munster’s packed line, nutmegged Rory Scannell then collected his pass and dived over the try line to complete a stunning score.
A scrum penalty was awarded to Munster and they edged closer through Hanrahan on 27 but two minutes later Racing responded with interest.
FINN RUSSELL BEHAVE YOURSELF 🔥
The cheekiest of grubber kicks, and a NUTMEG too?!
A moment of pure brilliance, what a try! 🙌#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/hYJuAm2AOX
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) November 23, 2019
It was great work from Simon Zebo who dragged three men into the tackle, freeing up Thomas who chipped the ball over the final Munster defender on the right wing, collected his kick and scooted round to score at the posts.
Munster would respond as the clock hit red as they worked through the hands out towards the left wing, finding Earls who skipped down the touchline and dived over in emphatic fashion to cut the gap to three points.
They did level up with another penalty from Hanrahan early on in the second half but they were soon behind again.
Racing 92 are on fire 🔥
Another superb try, and it's that man Finn Russell at the heart of it!
Magical stuff ⚪️🔵#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/BJSDVeE1xK
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) November 23, 2019
It was more genius from the Scottish fly-half who dummied and sliced through the Munster line before handing off to Juan Imhoff who saw off the last defender and scored at the posts.
But Munster continued to fight back, and with penalty advantage, Hanrahan launched a ball across for Andrew Conway who dived over at the corner. The man with the assist then slotted over the difficult conversion in what would be the final score in a pulsating tied match.
Munster will now travel to face Saracens in Allianz Park in Round 3 while Racing will host Ospreys.
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