MUNSTER stormed to the top of Pool 1 of the Champions Cup after a convincing 32-7 bonus point win over Racing 92 on an emotional return to Paris for the squad.
Table toppers Munster now sit three points clear of second-placed Glasgow Warriors ahead of their crucial Round 5 clash at Scotstoun on Saturday next, 5.30pm.
Munster scored four tries in swatting Racing’s meek challenge aside in their re-arranged fixture with the French Top 14 champions in Paris. It was a poignant occasion for Munster players and supporters alike in an attendance of 9,233 as the fixture had been originally postponed in October due to the sudden death of head coach Anthony Foley on the morning of the game.
The former Munster number eight would have been mightily proud of the province’s imposing, composed, clinical and defensively solid performance against the French champions.
Munster were well on their way to achieving the result they desired against a Racing side which was pointless in Pool 1 after their open three pool fixtures when leading 25-0 at half-time.
The visitors scored three tries at the Stade Yves du Manoir in the opening half through Simon Zebo, his 50th touchdown for Munster, Man of the Match CJ Stander and winger Andrew Conway, while out-half Tyler Bleyendaal added 10 points with the boot.
Munster secured the bonus point try in the 55th minute when hooker Niall Scannell barrelled over, with Bleyendaal again converting.
Racing did grab a late consolation try through flanker Matthieu Voisin.
SCORING: Racing 92: Matthieu Voisin try, Dan Carter con. Munster: CJ Stander, Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway Niall Scannell try each, Tyler Bleyendaal two pens, three cons.
RACING 92: Juan Imhoff; Joe Rokocoko, Casey Laulala, Anthony Tuitavake, Teddy Thomas; Benjamin Dambielle, Xavier Chauveau; Khatchik Vartanov, Camille Chat, Luc Ducalcon, Gerbrandt Grobler, Francois van der Merwe, Chris Masoe (capt), Matthieu Voisin, Antonie Claassen. Replacements: Virgile Lacombe, Julien Brugnaut, Cedate Gomes Sa, Ali Williams, So'otala Fa'aso'o, James Hart, Dan Carter, Henry Chavancy.
MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Ronan O'Mahony; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, Peter O'Mahony (capt), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander. Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Dave Foley, Jack O'Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Keith Earls, Francis Saili.
REFEREE: Matthew Carley (England)