Munster's Champions Cup dreams blown away by late Toulouse burst
MUNSTER 33-40 TOULOUSE
Two late daggers from scrumhalf Antoine Dupont saw Toulouse put a determined Munster side to bed at Thomond Park.
Munster led 26-23 with 15 minutes to go but the French side scored 17 straight points in the closing stages and march on to an away Champions Cup quarter final with Clermont.
Toulouse hit the front early as Chris Farrell was sin-binned after three minutes and Ntamack chipped over a penalty from close-range. Joey Carbery levelled matters before Ntamack made it 6-3 after he brilliantly earned a penalty with a brave take and run.
6-3 down and hitting a white-brick wall, Munster relied on the string-pulling and game-play of Conor Murray to get a footing in the contest. With the French side pinned in their half by the kicks of Murray and Munster pressure, Damian De Allende stepped up.
The Springboks centre was already having a fine game and his run up the left flank and delayed pass to Keith Earls teed Munster up for their opening try. De Allende then ripped Toulouse up the middle and, with Munster keeping their cool in attack, a looping pass found Earls out wide and he dotted down for his second.
Damian De Allende 🤝 Keith Earls
Ripping Toulouse apart pic.twitter.com/8OdXV8mTed
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) April 3, 2021
Carbery missed both conversions from out wide but he did add a late penalty, to make it 16-9, not long after Tadhg Beirne had left the pitch with a bad injury to his ribs.
Toulouse started the second half exactly as they would have wished. They won collision after collision and Ntamack's dink over the top took two men out and a charging Matthis Lebel did the rest. The Toulouse No.10 then added a touchline conversion to level the scores at 16-16.
Munster had a belter of a response up their sleeves, though. Murray was sniping and marshalling his pack and, when Munster won a penalty out in the left-hand corner, the decision was taken to quick-tap. Gavin Coombes justified the call as he barrelled up and grounded the ball on the Toulouse tryline.
Toulouse struck back with a Julien Marchand try beside the Munster posts after an attacking lineout that was far from straight.
Short of throwing the ball straight to the scrum half, I don't know how that lineout could have been more crooked. He is literaly reaching to catch it at his outside shoulder.
— Duncan Casey (@BigDunc123) April 3, 2021
The teams were level again but Munster nudged three more points ahead when sub JJ Hanrahan lapped over a penalty with 15 minutes to go.
Hanrahan, unfortunately, was completely undone by Lebel, out on the wing, and his missed tackle saw the winger get free and slip in Antoine Dupont - on the trail run - for a try under the Munster posts.
That was the killer blow as Toulouse kept coming and the hosts could only concede late penalties as the game, and tournament, slipped away. Dupont added a second in the final minutes as Barnes awarded the try after multiple slow-motion replays.
Coombes added a late, consolation try but there was not enough time left to restart.
Our Man of the Match: Romain Ntamack (Toulouse)