Last gasp Munster snatch victory over Perpignan

Munster went to the top of Pool 6 in the Heineken Cup when they snatched a last gasp 17-18 victory over Perpignan at Stade Aime Giral on Saturday.

Munster trailed 9-3 at half time but worked their way into the lead with a penalty try only to surrender it again shortly before full time when Tommaso Benvenuti slipped past Keith Earls on the wing.

Munster however fought their way back into the Perpignan half and JJ Hanrahan scoredto snatch the victory for Munster.

As the clock ticked over into the red at the Stade Aime Giral, Hanrahan produced
a stunning sidestep from 25 metres out to touch down out wide and hand the 2006
and 2008 champions a third win in four pool games.

Italian international Tommaso Benvenuti looked to have dealt Munster’s hopes
of a third Heineken Cup crown a heavy blow when he crossed with less than two
minutes remaining but Rob Penney’s men kept the ball alive from the restart,
with Denis Hurley and Tommy O’Donnell setting up Hanrahan’s heroics.

Munster began brightly and thought they had claimed the opening try with just
six minutes on the clock when openside flanker Sean Dougal scampered over from
10 metres out. The celebrations were shortlived, however, as referee JP Doyle
called for assistance and the TMO ruled that James Downey was guilty of obstruction.

Instead, it was Perpignan who scored first just moments later through a well-struck
penalty from former Scotland U20 fly-half Tommy Allen.

Both sides found themselves down to 14 men after 13 minutes when Munster skipper
Peter O’Mahony and Perpignan hooker Romain Terrain were sinbinned for an off-the-ball
altercation that led to a mass brawl.

Ian Keatley kicked Munster level after a quarter of an hour but Allen edged
Perpignan back in front with his second three minutes later.

His third strike after 24 minutes pushed Perpigan six points clear and it stayed
that until the break, although both kickers should have added to their tally.
Keatley failed from the tee after half an hour and Allen followed suit four
minutes later, with Keatley missing again with the final play off the half.

Munster started the second half in a similar manner to the first, as Paul O’Connell
and co repeatedly demolished the Perpignan scrum. Doyle awarded three penalties
and a free kick at a five-metre setpiece before finally losing patience and
pointing to the posts for a penalty try.

Keatley’s simple conversion handed Munster the lead for the first time on 50
minutes but Perpignan responded well and should have gone back in front before
the hour. Allen was off target again before they turned down another kickable
penalty in favour of a quick tap and the chance went begging when former England
No8 Luke Narraway failed to hang on to a dreadful pass out wide.

Perpignan did regain the advantage when Allen struck his fourth penalty from
wide on the left after 63 minutes but the lead was shortlived as Keatley made
it 13-12 with 13 minutes left.

Benvenuti’s try out wide should have been enough for Perpignan but Munster
have proved time and time again that they can never be written off in Europe.

Final Score Perpignan (9) 17 Munster (3) 18

Scorers

Perpignan
Tries: Benvenuti
Pens: Allen 4

Munster
Tries: Penalty try, Hanrahan
Pens: Keatley 2
Cons: Keatley

Match Officials
Referee
: JP Doyle (England),
Assistant ref: Martin Fox (England),
Assistant ref: Paul Dix (England),
TMO: Rowan Kit

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