Munster pull off comeback of the year against Clermont
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP MATCH REPORT: A stunning comeback from Munster Rugby – overturning a 28-9 deficit at one stage – was punctuated by a 70th minute CJ Stander try as the Irish side beat ASM Clermont Auvergne in a 39-31 thriller at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.
The French side led by 19 after 24 minutes on the back of tries from Alivereti Raka, Damian Penaud, Etienne Fourcade and a penalty try.
But the Irish side responded through the boot of fly-half JJ Hanrahan who kicked 24 points, and tries from Mike Haley, Stander and Kevin O’Byrne in a comeback for the ages.
The French side took the initiative from the opening kick-off as they capitalized on a Munster knock-on. Clermont swiftly earned possession, moving the ball quickly to winger Raka who touched down after a mere 24 seconds of the contest.
Another mishandled kick-off by the Irish side led to the hosts second try. After recovering possession from the error, Clermont switched play with ferocious pace, leading to an intentional knock-on by Munster’s Shane Daly – a penalty try award, and a sin bin for Daly.
Clermont’s third try followed on 15 minutes. The French outfit moved the ball from a left wing line-out to the opposite wing where Penaud crossed the whitewash.
A bonus point try soon followed, Clermont forming a maul from a line out on the right flank, Hooker Fourcade able to power through for the score. Munster, in response, were forced to settle for nine points from the boot of JJ Hanrahan, as the score stretched to 28-9 after 24 minutes.
The visitors eventually rumbled over on 29 minutes. A line-out of their own was moved quickly across the field into the hands of fullback Mike Haley to reduce the deficit to 12 at the break.
Early in the second half, Hanrahan further reduced the lead with three more penalties. Camille Lopez responded for the hosts on the hour mark as game reached a tense finale.
With 10 minutes remaining the Irish side took the lead for the first time. After dangerous play in the line-out from Clermont’s Tibaud Lanen – who was sent to the sin bin – Munster capitalized on the error. CJ Stander rumbled home on the back of a maul, with Hanrahan converting to take the lead 32-31.
Kevin O’Byrne put the icing on the cake in the final few minutes, the TMO confirming the grounding of his effort to complete the comeback.
The sides will face-off in the return fixture in Round 3.
FULL-TIME: Clermont 31-39 Munster
What a comeback, what a WIN!
From 28-9 down, we have beaten Clermont 39-31 in the Stade Marcel-Michelin 🥳 🥳 🥳
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) December 19, 2020
Tries: Raka, Penalty try, Penaud, Fourcade,
Cons: Lopez, penalty try does not need conversion
Yellow Cards: J.Cancoriet 60′, T. Lanen 68′
Tries: Hayley, Stander, O’Byrne
Cons: Hanrahan 3
Pen: Hanrahan 6
Yellow Cards: S.Daly 6′
ASM Clermont Auvergne: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Jean-Pascal Barraque, 12 George Moala, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Camille Lopez (captain), 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Clement Lanen, 6 Judicaël Cancoriet, 5 Peceli Yato, 4 Paul Jedrasiak, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Etienne Fourcade, 1 Peni Ravai.
Replacements: 16 Adrien Pélissié, 17 Etienne Falgoux, 18 Sipili Falatea, 19 Thibaud Lanen, 20 Edward Annandale, 21 Morgan Parra, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams, 23 Tavite Veredamu.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Shane Daly, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 6 Gavin Coombes, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Josh Wycherley.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 John Ryan, 19 Fineen Wycherley, 20 Billy Holland, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Jack O’Donoghue.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Ludovic Cayre (France), Luc Ramos (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)