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Munster need five-star performance

Friday 18th January 2013

12:00 am (GMT)

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Munster know that only a bonus point victory over Racing Metro 92 at Thomond Park on Sunday afternoon will be enough to guarantee a Heineken Cup quarter-finals place in April. - 18/01/2013 06:45

Munster know that only a bonus point victory over Racing Metro 92 at Thomond Park on Sunday afternoon will be enough to guarantee a Heineken Cup quarter-finals place in April. - 18/01/2013 06:45

Munster know that only a bonus point victory over Racing Metro 92 at Thomond Park on Sunday afternoon will be enough to guarantee a Heineken Cup quarter-finals place in April.

The Irish province, who lifted the trophy in 2006 and 2008, are second in their Pool and three points behind leaders Saracens.

Munster and Saracens can both qualify for the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup from this Pool, but the English side are very much in the driving seat and host Edinburgh Rugby in Watford.

The red machine know a bonus point win over the French opponents would probably be enough to make sure they qualify as one of the two best runners-up.

The former double champions failed to really impress or get a bonus point in their 26-17 victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield and will need to improve for the visit of French rugby’s big spenders.

Veteran outside half Ronan O’Gara managed to guide his side to a hard-fought victory over an Edinburgh side who did reach last season’s semi-finals but hadn’t won a game or scored a try before they met Munster.

However, O'Gara has been suspended for one match and will miss the final group match

Munster will know all about the threat of their opponents after they suffered a 22-17 defeat to Racing Metro when they two teams met in the opening Pool game at the Stade de France back in October, Simon Zebo a try scorer for Munster.

Racing Metro lost their chances of a Heineken Cup quarter-final when they went down 37-28 to Saracens in Nantes in the last round but they could still stop Munster from reaching the quarter-finals.

Match Facts

  • Munster have won their Round 6 tie for the past five seasons. Their only defeat in this round since 2002 was 6-13 at home to Leicester Tigers in January 2007.
  • Munster have lost just two home pool games in the history of the Heineken Cup: 32-37 to Cardiff in Cork in September 1997 and 6-13 to Leicester in Limerick on 20 January 2007.
  • 20 French clubs have played on Munster soil in the Heineken Cup with no wins to show.
  • Racing Metro grabbed three tries in the first 20 minutes against Saracens but failed to secure a try bonus point, only Leicester Tigers have managed this in less playing time (three tries in 18 minutes but no further scores against Wasps in December 2004).
  • Alongside Montpellier, Munster have missed fewer tackles than any other club in this tournament, averaging 7.4 misses per game.

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Zebo hat-trick sets-up another miracle

Sunday 20th January 2013

12:00 am (GMT)

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A 14 contre 15 dès les premières minutes

A 14 contre 15 dès les premières minutes

A decade on from their last miraculous escape from the Heineken Cup Pool stages into the quarter-finals Munster did all they could to re-join European rugby’s top eight.

They went into their final Pool game against Racing Metro at Thomond Park needing to win with at least four tries to knock-out the reigning champions Leinster from the second best runners-up spot.

They scored three tries in a blistering first-half to wipe out an early 3-0 deficit to lead 17-6 at the break. Then it was a question of the home crowd being patient and waiting for the bonus point score.

They didn’t have to wait long as Simon Zebo became the hero as he completed his hat-trick within 15 minutes of the re-start to complete the job and add an extra one as well.

Munster still had to wait on the mathematical outcome of the game between Leicester Tigers and Toulouse in Pool 2 to be certain of their ticket to play No 1 seeds Harlequins in April, but as the gap grew and the tries flowed it became an increasingly difficult game for the Leinster players to watch.

Racing Metro came with only pride to play for and their cause was dealt a bitter blow when English referee Wayne Barnes dismissed their back row man Antoine Battut after a mere five minutes. The Racing man was visibly fired up and appeared to strike Tommy O’Donnell with the knee as tempers frayed.

Racing didn’t let that set-back upset them and full back Gaetan Germain drew first blood with a penalty after 12 minutes. Munster didn’t score in the first quarter but, as the pressure mounted, they notched three tries in 15 minutes before half-time to calm the nerves.

Scrum half Conor Murray drove over from close range, Zebo ran in his first and then hooker Mike Sherry converted another close-range line-out drive. That set-up a second-half hunt for one more try and a march to victory.

Zebo’s second and third tries made the bonus point and victory safe and meant the champions were relegated to the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals. All that was left was for the nervy wait to see if Leicester Tigers could beat Toulouse and the Frenchmen could pick up two points in defeat by scoring four or more tries and finish within seven points.

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