MUNSTER crashed out of the Champions Cup in spectacular fashion after suffering a 27-7 mauling at the hands of 14-man Stade Francais at Stade Jean Bouin on Sturday night.
Munster slumped to a third straight defeat in European competition for the first time in the province’s history as Anthony Foley’s men exited at the pool stages for the second successive year.
Munster, who trailed 10-0 at half-time, failed to score until the 75th minute of the game, despite Stade winger Josaia Raisuqe being red-carded just before the interval for an eye gouge on Munster skipper CJ Stander.
Munster, who failed to pick up even a losing bonus point for the third straight game in Europe, will face second-placed Stade Francais in the return game at Thomond Park on Saturday next, 1pm.
Munster cause was not helped by the loss of three players to injury in the opening half, Andrew Conway, BJ Botha and the recently returned Tommy O’Donnell.
A Paul Williams try and five points from the boot of Morne Steyn helped the French champions build their 10-point interval lead.
Munster out-half Ian Keatley missed two kickable penalty goals in that opening half. However, the visitors were handed a lifeline just before the break when winger Josaia Raisuqe was red-carded for an eye gouge on Munster skipper CJ Stander.
However, rather than energise Munster, the red card galvanised Stade who dominated the third quarter.
Another Steyn penalty after 54 minutes saw the home side pull further clear at 13-0.
Munster did appear set to finally get off the mark after an hour, but Rory Scannell’s ‘try’ was ruled out for a forward pass.
And Stade tightened their grip on the game after 70 minutes when powerful flanker Sekou Malalou powered through a poor Munster defence to touch down.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Stade’s full-back Hugo Bonneval waltzed through inept Munster defending to help the home side into a commanding 27-0 lead.
Munster finally got points on the board in the 75th minute when Conor Murray touched down. Rory Scannell duly added the conversion.
But it was scant consolation for a well beaten Munster side.
STADE FRANCAIS: Hugo Bonneval; Julien Arias, Waisea Vuidarvuwalu, Paul Williams, Josaia Raisuqe; Morne Steyn, Julien Dupuy; Zak Taulafo, Laurent Sempere, Paul Alo Emile, Hugh Pyle, Paul Gabrillagues, Sekou Macalou, Sylvain Nicolas, Sergio Parisse (capt). Replacements: Laurent Panis, Heinke van der Merwe, Rabah Slimani, Gerhard Mostert, Jonathan Ross, Julien Tomas, Jules Plisson, Jonathan Danty.
MUNSTER: Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha, Dave Foley, Mark Chisholm, Robin Copeland, Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander (capt). Replacements: Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Mario Sagario, Billy Holland, Jack O’Donoghue, Tomas O’Leary, Denis Hurley, Ronan O’Mahony.
REFEREE: Nigel Owens (Wales)