Bonus point Munster beat Stade Francais

Conor Murray waits for the ball to come out of the scrum

Munster gave their fans something to cheer about by beating Stade Francais 26-13 in European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 4 at Thomond Park.

Leicester still lead the Pool on 18 points and although Munster have closed the gap on second placed Stade Francais and now have 10 points but look to be out of the running.

The result did more harm to Stade’s qualification hopes than helping Munster as even though it is the Irish side’s second win of the pool stage and they are third in the pool.

Stade were left stranded on 14 points, four behind Leicester who were expected to pick up maximum points later Saturday at home to Treviso and clinch qualification- most likely at home.

The French side would then have to defeat Leicester in Paris in the final pool game to have any chance of advancing as one of the best runner-up teams.

Munster had the best of a physical first half at Thomond Park, scoring two tries to nil as Stade Francais struggled to compete.

The first came after 32 minutes when hooker Mike Sherry powered over after an impressive driving line-out, while the second was a solo effort from centre Keith Earls on the stroke of half-time, bursting through a gap in the Stade ranks from the halfway line and sliding in under a late tackle.

The French had only two Morne Steyn penalties to show for their efforts as Munster turned with a 12-6 lead and things went from bad to worse for the visitors one minute into the second half.

Fly-half Ian Keatley was the architect sending through an inch-perfect chip for winger Simon Zebo to collect and score between the posts.

Stade were guilty of squandering several good scoring opportunities due to turnovers, but they got themselves back into the game with 17 minutes to go.

There looked to be little danger to the home side before an overthrown line-out in their own half was gobbled up by flanker Jonjo Jones who thundered in under the posts from 25 yards out.

The door was briefly open for Stade but three minutes later it shut again as the Munster pack bossed their way forward and South African flanker and club skipper CJ Stander muscled his way over after Connor Murray took a quick tap.

The French side went out in search of a second try that would have given them a defensive bonus point but they came up short.

In Saturday’s other early game Bordeaux edged Exeter 34-27 in a Pool 2 thriller.

In action later Saturday Saracens host Ulster in a clash of the top two teams in Pool 1, while Oyonnax take on Toulouse and Leinster go up against Bath.

In Friday’s match, Welsh side Ospreys scored a superb 21-13 win over last year’s runner-up Clermont to move two points clear atop Pool 2.

Final Score Munster 26 (12) Stade Francais 13 (6)

Scorers

Munster
Tries – Sherry, Earls, Zebo, Stander
Pen –
Con – Keatley (3)
Drop –

Stade Francais
Tries – Ross
Pen – Steyn (2)
Con – Steyn
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee: JP Doyle (England),
Assistant ref: Tom Foley (England),
Assistant ref: Paul Dix (England),
TMO: Graham Hughes (England),
Citing Commissioner: Peter Larter (England)

Teams

Munster Rugby: Simon Zebo; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, Mario Sagario, Dave Foley, Mark Chisholm, Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander (c)

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Robin Copeland, Jack O’Donoghue, Tomas O’Leary, Lucas Amorosino

Stade Français Paris: Hugo Bonneval; Waisea Vuidarvuwalu, Jonathan Danty, Paul Williams, Julien Arias; Morné Steyn, Julien Dupuy; Zak Taulafo, Laurent Panis, Rabah Slimani, Paul Gabrillagues, Pascal Papé, Sekou Macalou, Jonathan Ross, Sergio Parisse (c)

Replacements: Zurabi Zhvania, Heinke Van der Merwe, Paul Alo Emile, Hugh Pyle, Sylvain Nicolas, Julien Tomas, Jules Plisson, Jérémy Sinzelle

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