MUNSTER ARE IN the south of France for a big Heineken Cup game – it’s just like old times.
So lock the doors, don’t listen to anyone who says you should go outside and watch it all with us by your side.
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Perpignan 17 – 18 Munster
15.07 – Good afternoon, rugby fans.
There’s nothing else for a day like that but to get in, stay in and get yourself some top quality rugby on the box.
Whether you’re lucky enough to be in that situation or stuck away from the wondrous technology that is digital TV, stay with us for the minute-by-minute coverage of Munster’s trip to Perpignan.
15.17 – We’ve plenty of time to go before kick off in Catalonia and I see you’ve already got the predictions rolling in the comment section, so here’s some required reading to get you in the mood for the opening whistle.
First up, three key battles central to the winning of this game.
15.41 – Right, we’re ready for the off in Stade Aime Giral.
If you haven’t heard about Ulster’s result today – full details are here – they’ve managed to squeeze a bonus point win from their trip to Treviso.
15.50 – PENALTY: Perpignan 3 – 0 Munster (Allen ’6)
15.42 – KICK OFF: We’re off and running in Catalonia and instantly Varley is asked to throw into the line-out and Munster can rumble into attacking territory.
15.43 – Oh, so close to an opening try for Munster there as Johne Murphy chased Laulala’s grubber. Perpignan just survive and clear.
15.44 – Laulala loves his grubber today. He chips on again from the 22 and Joffrey is forced into touch.
15.47 – NO TRY! Dougall is over the line, but we’re called back for a TMO as James Downey is rightly called for obstruction on the side of a ruck 10 metres out.
17.13 – Perpignan have been the much more purposeful side since the penalty try. Munster unable to get a tight grip on the game and as a result, get stuck inside their own half.
15.56 – Apologies for delay there, readers. Some technical hitches. But you join us just in time for a bit of a scuffle breaking out.
As you’d expect, Peter O’Mahony is at the heart of things, but he seems to have waded in to protect his out-half.
15.59 – TMO is going to have a look at two incidents here. To our eyes, O’Mahony looks more sinned against, but it’s mostly pushing and shoving.
16.03 – SIN BIN: Both Peter O’Mahony and Dan Leo are singled out, but it really looks harsh on both. Pushing, shoving and maybe an open hand to the face from Leo.
16.04 – PENALTY: Perpignan 3 – 3 Munster (Keatley ’16)
16.05 – The crowd are asking for another card now as Allen breaks and hits the deck after kicking ahead.
Just a penalty though, from where the ball landed.
16.07 – PENALTY: Perpignan 6 Munster 3 (Allen ‘ 19)
Allen puts his side back in the lead from right in front of the posts.
16.10 – Ooh. The bear pit finds its voice again after Keith Earls spots a loose ball and inadvertently tackles a Durand above the neck.
16.11 – Referee not giving in to the crowd’s wishes (yet), just a penalty against Earls and the home side set up an attack outside the 22.
16.14 – Neither side covering their discipline wall in glory. Munster impinge at the breakdown and Allen converts from 30 metre angled penalty.
PENALTY: Perpignan 9 – 3 Munster (Allen ‘ 25)
16.17 – “A human papous” is how Sky’s Mark Robson describes Munster’s choke tackle. Not quite the gentle approach is sounds when Downey slams a forearm under man and ball.
The resulting scrum brings a penalty for Munster, BJ Botha flexing his scrummaging muscles, and they escape to the host’s 22.
16.20 – The Top 14 side drag the line-out right down and JP Doyle awards a penalty on the following phase. Keatley kicks across, but Murphy can’t win the leap.
We go back for the penalty, but Keatley kicks wide of the target from a very kickable angle on the right.
16.24 – Both sides back to the full compliment of players of course, but it’s the hosts who threaten with Guitoune running hard at the red line before the defence wins a turnover.
Munster attempt to run the ball out of their own half, but O’Mahony is pinged by JP Doyle for holding on and Allen has a 40 metre shot for goal… he’s missed. The way he had been kicking we expected the deficit to increase there. Let off.
16.26 – Keatley struggling to get a grip on this game, but never fear, Donnacha Ryan is on hand to boot the ball 40 metres up-field and out of play.
16.29 – Awful stupid penalty conceded by Durand, never onside, but strolling through the ruck and kicking the ball away. Kickable chance for Keatley now set up by a big carry from Paul O’Connell.
Oh dear, Keatley has knocked that one right of the posts and, in truth, it never looked likely to come back in.
16.30 – HALF TIME: Perpignan 9 Munster 3
16.47 – Here comes the second half and after the initial kicks are exchanged Munster burst into attack through Johne Murphy on the left wing, but the moves breaks down with a knock-on.
16.49 – Brilliant scrum again from Botha forces Durand to scramble and pass back to his in-goal area with both O’Mahony and Dougall on the hunt. They force the error and it’s now Munster scrum v in in the left hand corner.
Big moment in the game this.
16.51 – And still we scrum…
16.53 – Only a free kick in the offing for Munster, so O’Mahony is quick to ask for another scrum and it yields a penalty, the third of this sequence. Time for JP Doyle to throw his weight around – a light jog under the posts would be nice.
16.55 – Now the’re really pushing and, yes, with the front rows popping up Doyle duly does run for the sticks
PENALTY TRY! Perpignan 9 Munster 10
Keatley makes no mistake from in front of the posts.
17.00 – Both sides looking to regroup after that pivotal set of scrums. O’Connell almost set a maul in motion in the middle of USAP territory, but the ref calls a penalty to the hosts, and another one when the white maul rumbles over half way.
17.02 – Allen has another shot at goal, but it’s an awful long way out. The young Italian/Scot powers the shot left and wide of the posts.
17.04 – Broken play is inviting for the hosts and Guitoune combines with Michel to punch a hole through the middle. The red scramble defence managed to cover back and three phases later Laulala forces a turnover on USAP left.
17.06 – The chance to escape their territory is wasted and USAP roar back into the red zone. It looks like a try is on as the ball bounces over Earls’ head, but as Guitoune comes onto the loose ball Cathal Sheridan does brilliantly to chop him immediately, giving the visitors a chance to regroup again.
17.08 – 60 mins. It’s a Munster scrum now, but on their own five metre line Not a time to let the balance of power shift.
17.12 – PENALTY: Perpignan 12 Munster 10 (Allen ‘ 64)
17.17 – PENALTY: Perpignan 12 Munster 13 (Keatley ’67)
There you go. Munster win a penalty off the back of the line-out and Keats holds his nerve through the boos and hissing of the Aime Giral.
17.15 – Ooh! Munster perhaps just guilty of trying to force things there. They are only a kick of the ball from a lead, but Murphy floats a skip pass to Laulala who has to immediately shovel it on before he’s smashed. The pass trickles behind Felix Jones and out of play.
17.21 – Tommy O’Donnell called for collapsing the French maul on the 22 and Allan has the ball on the tee again…
17.22 – It’s wide! The crowd are most displeased, but the TV camera had the perfect angle.
17.26 – Much better, more confident play in that Munster back-line now as Keatley leads a double switch with Laulala and Downey punching up the middle off the back of a scrum.
The ball is turned over, however, and the kick forces Earls to scramble in search of the bouncing ball. He powers clear, but finds more trouble, more tacklers and is forced into a turnover.
17.30 – TRY! Perpignan 17 – 13 (Benvenuti ’78)
A lovely move by the home back-line, but Rob Penney will be furiously asking about two very flat passes in the build-up to that try.
Privately, he’ll also be asking Denis Hurley why he bit in when Keith Earls clearly had the pace to get over and make the tackle on the second last man.
17.37 – TRY: Perpignan 17 Munster 18 (Hanrahan ‘ 81)
17.49 – Wow. Just wow.
Munster take full control of pool six as they sit six points ahead of Gloucester with two game remaining. The English side of course play Edinburgh tomorrow, but that Hanrahan side-step may just have given Munster fans reason to leave plenty of room for travel plans in April.
17.41 – An absolutely incredible finish to this game as Munster force a turnover, but are still frantically chasing the ball as Perpignan defence rushes up attempting to force an error.
The break comes out on the right wing, with Hurley making up for his error and Tommy O’Donnell (checked by the TMO) managing to keep play alive and his feet out of touch to send JJ Hanrahan haring towards the line with a sublime sidestep opening the door to let him touch down in the corner.
Keatley misses the conversion, but it doesn’t matter one jot.
FULL TIME: Perpignan 17 Munster 18
17.56 – Right, I need a cup of strong tea and a darkened room after that. The action doesn’t end here though, we’ve got live coverage to come from the Aviva and the Sportsground to come.
Is another four from four too much to ask?