Racing 92 27-22 Munster: Fast start secures Champions Cup final place

Last Updated April 22 2018, 16:45Rugby Union
Teddy Thomas scores
Teddy Thomas scores

Racing 92 ripped the Munster defence to shreds with three tries in the opening 21 minutes to set up an eventual 27-22 win at Stade Chaban-Delmas that sealed their second Champions Cup final appearance.

Runners-up in 2016, the French giants will meet unbeaten Leinster in the decider in Bilbao in three weeks' time, while Munster return to domestic matters after suffering a stinging sixth European semi-final defeat since 2009.

Any thoughts of an all-Irish final quickly evaporated in the 28-degree Bordeaux heat, the travelling Munster hordes left reeling by Teddy Thomas' blistering brace of tries and a Thomas-created third converted score from Racing captain Maxime Machenaud.

The deficit was 24-3 at half-time, Ian Keatley and Machenaud trading penalties as Racing, who had lost three of their last meetings with the Irish province, continued to be ruthlessly efficient. Former Munster lock Donnacha Ryan was a central figure.

A Machenaud penalty took his haul to 17 points before his future club-mate Simon Zebo's 63rd-minute try sparked a revival which yielded further scores from Rhys Marshall (75) and Andrew Conway (80), closing the gap to five by the final whistle.

It looked ominous for Munster when they fell behind after just four minutes. Camille Chat's overthrow blew Racing's first attacking opportunity, but their forwards' powerful carrying teed up winger Thomas, who handed off Alex Wootton to score in the right corner.

Machenaud's excellent conversion made it a seven-pointer, and while CJ Stander and Stephen Archer won penalties either side of an encouraging counter attack from Wootton and Andrew Conway, Munster's decision-making was visibly off.

Fly-half Keatley had a poor start, missing touch from a penalty and having a drop-goal attempt charged down. Rory Scannell was wide with a subsequent drop, but Keatley got Munster on the board when punishing a Leone Nakarawa offside in the 16th minute.

Thomas was celebrating his second try soon after, his international colleague Virimi Vakatawa doing the damage with a superb surge from halfway, handing off Jean Kleyn in the process, and giving the 24-year-old speedster a simple run-in.

Racing's hulking forwards continued to flood over the gain-line, splintering an already overworked Munster defence, and Thomas brilliantly stepped inside two defenders to gift Machenaud a 21st-minute try, unselfishly passing to the scrum-half behind the posts.

Munster's reliable players were letting them down, two key lineouts going astray with Yannick Nyanga pinching one, and a series of attacks deep in the Racing 22 - with the interval approaching - were foiled with all-action centre Sam Arnold held up close to the posts.

Machenaud's metronome right boot extended the lead with a penalty just two minutes into the second half, and Munster's misery continued when a Rhys Marshall try was ruled out after he had run into referee JP Doyle.

With injured opensides Chris Cloete and Tommy O'Donnell keenly missed, the province were second best at the breakdown too, a rare error from Racing seeing a Machenaud penalty come back off the crossbar.

The Racing-bound Zebo lifted spirits with a high-quality finish past two defenders, equalling Anthony Foley's Munster record of 23 European Cup tries, as Johann van Graan's men took advantage of Marc Andreu's sin-binning for successive offsides.

JJ Hanrahan was wide of the target with the conversion and after fellow replacement Robin Copeland, who had the try-line in his sights, was pulled back for a forward pass from Zebo, Racing duly slowed the pace of the game again.

To their credit, Munster kept plugging away and a lineout maul snaked over in the right corner with replacement hooker Marshall grounding the ball.

Hanrahan converted and also added the extras to Conway's try in the final play, the province's quarter-final hero touching down from a Zebo kick-through.

Related rugby union links

Most Read

Manchester United and France winger Anthony Martial1

Saturday's Paper Talk

Spurs will ask Manchester United to let them have Anthony Martial as part of any deal taking Toby Alderweireld to Old Trafford according to Saturday's papers.

Romanised winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas2

Ballydoyle floored by Roman conqueror

Romanised gave trainer Ken Condon his first Classic success when springing a 25/1 surprise in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Real Madrid face Liverpool in the Champions League final3

Champions League final guide

All you need to know ahead of the Champions League final with features, analysis, teams news & best bets for Real Madrid v Liverpool in Kiev.

Aston Villa take on Fulham in the Championship Play-Off final4

Villa v Fulham: Play-off tips

Aston Villa and Fulham meet at Wembley on Saturday and Tom Carnduff has 17/10 and two 5/1 best bets for the play-off final.

Check out Ben Linfoot's latest big-priced selections5

Value Bet: On the Farm

Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet selections from around the country on Saturday and he has bets in the top handicaps at Goodwood, Haydock and York.

Most Read

Manchester United and France winger Anthony Martial1

Saturday's Paper Talk

Spurs will ask Manchester United to let them have Anthony Martial as part of any deal taking Toby Alderweireld to Old Trafford according to Saturday's papers.

Romanised winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas2

Ballydoyle floored by Roman conqueror

Romanised gave trainer Ken Condon his first Classic success when springing a 25/1 surprise in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Real Madrid face Liverpool in the Champions League final3

Champions League final guide

All you need to know ahead of the Champions League final with features, analysis, teams news & best bets for Real Madrid v Liverpool in Kiev.

Aston Villa take on Fulham in the Championship Play-Off final4

Villa v Fulham: Play-off tips

Aston Villa and Fulham meet at Wembley on Saturday and Tom Carnduff has 17/10 and two 5/1 best bets for the play-off final.

Check out Ben Linfoot's latest big-priced selections5

Value Bet: On the Farm

Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet selections from around the country on Saturday and he has bets in the top handicaps at Goodwood, Haydock and York.

Racing Tips

Check out our horse racing nap of the day

Sporting Life: Daily Nap

Ben Linfoot previews the action from the Curragh and ParisLongchamp on Sunday with the Sporting Life Daily Nap running in Ireland.

Colin Tizzard

Sunday's racing preview

Keith Hamer fancies Valseur Du Granval to be a fitting winner at Uttoxeter on Sunday and has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Battaash pulls clear of his King George rivals

Saturday's racing preview

Keith Hamer previews Saturday's action and expects Battaash to make a winning reappearance at Haydock. He has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Next Race Off
18:35 Ffos Las
5
(0)
Alf 'n' Dor
J: James Bowen
1
(0)
Action Replay
J: R Johnson

Football Tips

Klopp v Zidane in the Champions League final

Champions League final tips

It's goals on the menu in Kiev as Paul Higham predicts a Champions League final thriller between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

Dean Henderson will be hopeful of more celebrations at full-time on Sunday

Rotherham v Shrews: Play-off tips

Sky Bet League One takes centre stage on Sunday when Rotherham meet Shrewsbury. Tom Carnduff has 12/5, 7/2 and 18/1 best bets.

Jayden Stockley and Exeter celebrate

Coventry v Exeter: play-off tips

The Sky Bet EFL play-offs end with Coventry's meeting with Exeter at Wembley and Tom Carnduff is backing the Grecians for success.