Report | Munster and Coombes leave it late in France

Coombes helped Munster to they steal the win against Castres in a tough fought victory.

Munster vs Castres always tends to be a prickly affair whenever the two clubs always find themselves locked together and this game was no exception as both clubs showed great desire to win the game and take home the points up for grabs.

Stand out performances on the night came from Munster’s Jack Crowley, Tadgh Beirne and Gavin Coombes. Crowley kicked 100% from the tee and helped Munster’s scoreboard ticking over keeping them in touching distance of a strong Castres side.

Kicking was the go-to plan for Castres as they pinned Munster back in the corners of the field, but Munster kept their discipline high, and the penalty count low. The Red Army kept a cool head for most of the game with only a couple moments of handbags from either team. 

I the end, a late Gavin Coombes try proved the difference as Munster made it three from three in Europe with a 16-13 win.

Crowley’s first shot for the posts came after 10 minutes, he comfortably watched as the ball split the post for the three points. Munster were in control with a three-point lead, but unfortunately the red province was forced to make a change when Niall Scannell had to go off with a shoulder injury. Diarmuid Barron was drafted in and put in a good performance.

On the 20-minute mark from a scrum Munster showcased some excellent flowing rugby. Murray took the ball from the back of the scrum, Rory Scannell was given the ball and he produced a beautiful cross-field kick to Keith Earls on the wing who collected it and moved it on to Mike Haley. Sadly, the resulting phases led to a Castres penalty on their 5-meter line.

Unfortunately, the home side produced a bit of magic as a chip over the Munster defence and was brought across the line for the try by Thomas Larregain on the 30-minute mark. Botica converted the try to push the score to 7-3.

A brilliant turnover from Tadhg Beirne on the 43rd minute helped the red men launch an attack as it moved through the hands of Crowley to Farrell, Earls and Haley before Jack O’Donoghue stood up and carried the ball into contact.

Due to a knock-on the play was eventually halted but an of the ball tackle was reported to the ref and Munster were awarded a second shot at goal for Crowley. The Munster fly-half calmly slotted the ball over the posts to bring the score back to one point.

14 January 2022; Jack Crowley of Munster kicks for touch during the Heineken Champions Cup Pool B match between Castres Olympique and Munster at Stade Pierre Fabre in Castres, France. Photo by Manuel Blondeu/Sportsfile

Mike Haley then found himself in space later on as both Crowley and O’Mahony offloaded the ball to keep the play alive, from the pressure Castres conceded another penalty for Crowley to kick. As Crowley nailed the kick Munster founded themselves with the lead at 9-7. 

Castres didn’t sit back however as they won a penalty from the scrum in the Munster 22. Botica took the shot at goal and converted making the score 10-9

As Castres gained momentum they looked to once again pin the away side into the corners, as a result of the accumulated pressure Munster conceded another kickable penalty.

Botica stepped up again and increased the lead for Castres the score 13-9 in the dying moments of the game.

Replacement John Hodnett made an instant impact as he broke the line and tore through the field bringing Munster into the opposition half. Beirnes huge turnover on 75 minutes gave Munster one last throw of the dice.

From the lineout Munster went to the Maul, they made good progress, but it was eventually halted, Coombes came up big when he carried the ball and dotted over the line. 

Munster once again found themselves in dire straights but managed to pull it back for a rousing 16-13 victory.

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