Munster's European dreams in ruins after late, controversial try
RACING 39-22 MUNSTER
Munster's hopes of reaching the knock-out stages are hanging from the dingiest, thinnest thread possible after a late burst of tries for Racing 92 in Paris.
The mathematical likelihood of Munster reaching the quarter finals is outlandish and next weekend's results should confirm what we already know - Europe is done disappointingly early for another season.
The turning point was a Finn Russell cross-field kick for a Teddy Thomas try on 72 minutes, which took place when Munster were leading 22-20. Referee Wayne Barnes wanted to see a replay to check if Thomas was not ahead of Russell's kick but there was none available, or at least the French broadcasters had none to show. Barnes had to go with his gut and the try was awarded.
It was the second time in the match - Thomas' first half try being the other one - when a lack of camera angles forced the referee to stick with his on-field call, at Munster's expense.
Racing then ran in two late tries to condemn Munster to what looks like a pool stage exit next weekend, no matter what they do against Ospreys. A bonus point win would get them 16 points but others are better placed in the other pools.
Munster started off superbly and Barnes rewarded their positivity and early superiority with three penalties, of all which were converted by JJ Hanrahan. The likes of Dave Kilcoyne, Billy Holland and Jack O'Donoghue all impressed in the opening 20 as Munster went 9-0 ahead.
Racing scrumhalf Teddy Iribaren converted a penalty that he won, on 21 minutes, when Jean Kleyn clearly obstructed him. It was a foothold in the game and the hosts started their ascent.
The draw in Limerick between these two sides showed how Racing could turn up a try out of nowhere and so it proved. Viremi Vakawata looked to have knocked on to spoil a promising Racing attack but Barnes waved play on and Iribaren pulled out a stunning back-hand pass straight to Teddy Thomas and Racing were right back in it.
Teddy Iribaren, behave!! 🤤pic.twitter.com/mdUepGavgc
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) January 12, 2020
The Racing No.9 missed his conversion but kicked his side 11-9 ahead when Pete O'Mahony was harshly pinged for not rolling away.
Then, just as Racing threatened to add to their lead, Andrew Conway stepped up with an incredible intercept and sprinted in from 75 metres out to stun the hosts. Hanrahan converted and it was Racing 11-16 Munster at half-time.
The second half saw both sides come at each other in waves and the lead trade hands on several occasions. Iribaren and Hanrahan traded penalties but, with eight minutes to go, Munster led 22-20.
And then came that controversial Thomas try. Racing had penalty advantage so Finn Russell knew that he had a play to nothing. He chipped a beautiful kick over the head of Keith Earls and, quite incredibly, Thomas was able to get downward pressure on the ball.
It looked like a great try in real time but the lack of replay angles did the visitors no favours.
Racing went 25-22 ahead and then made it 32-22 when Viremi Vakawata horsed over for the killer blow and the scoreline got ugly when Juan Imhoff got over for the bonus point try in time added on.
Munster are down and next weekend's results should confirm them as out of Europe for another season.
OUR MAN OF THE MATCH: Boris Palu (Racing)
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