Maro Itoje makes Munster shoot-out suggestion as province reels from dramatic exit
Could very well end up with a Jordan Crane situation again.
Maro Itoje was not the only rugby fan gripped to the action at the Aviva Stadium, on Saturday, as Munster were eliminated from the Champions Cup after a dramatic place-kicking competition.
Johann van Graan's side led the reigning European champions 24-14, heading into the final quarter, but were dragged back level and brought to extra time. Neither side could add to the 24-24 scoreline so, for only the second time in the competition's 27-year history, the match was decided by a place-kicking shootout.
While Toulouse landed all four of their kicks, Munster missed three of their five attempts and Toulouse marched on. It was particularly gutting for Munster outhalf Ben Healy, who missed a late penalty in normal time, two drop goal attempts and his two kicks in the shootout.
It almost never happens in rugby...
Munster and Toulouse locked at 24-24 after 80 minutes plus extra time, it all came down to a 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗲 𝗸𝗶𝗰𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗲𝘁𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻!
Incredible drama 😱#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/gRhvBK47uJ
— Rugby on TNT Sports (@rugbyontnt) May 7, 2022
Maro Itoje suggests a tweak
The place-kicking competition saw both sides nominate three kickers each, with each nominated player having to be on the pitch when the final whistle was blown.
Munster put forward Healy, Joey Carbery and Conor Murray, who had re-entered the game, late on, as a concussion replacement for Simon Zebo. Toulouse opted for Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack and Thomas Ramos.
There would be up to six kicks for each side - two apiece for the nominated players - starting off on the 22 and moving out to the 10-metre line. Dupont and Murray nailed their first kicks but Munster blinked first when Healy was off target with his kick.
Ntamack and Ramos landed their kicks, either side of a successful Carbery effort, before Dupont made it 4-2 and Healy missed. It was a gripping ended to a thoroughly engaging contest between two sides going full-on from the start.
Saracens, England and Lions star Maro Itoje was following the game on TV and he made a suggestion that he would like to see, with future place-kicking competitions.
First time I watched penalty drop out in rugby live !!! Added some excitement to the game, think it would have been better if there were 6 kickers instead of 3 though!!
— Maro Itoje (@maroitoje) May 7, 2022
More players stepped up to the tee for the last place-kicking competition in the European Cup knockouts, back in 2009. Leicester Tigers beat Cardiff Blues 7-6 in that shootout, with forward Jordan Crane sealing it with his kick.
Looking at the players that were left on the field, for Munster and Toulouse, at full-time, the likes of Keith Earls, Damian De Allende, Matthis Lebel and Pita Akhi could have been asked to take kicks.
Maro Itoje could well have been hoping, though, to see some of his fellow forwards step up to show the backs how it is done.
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