Man of the Match JJ Hanrahan ensures Munster win disappointing Champions Cup game

Credit: @ChampionsCup

Munster Rugby 30 Castres Olympique 5

Tries from Rory Scannell, CJ Stander and JJ Hanrahan with all the other scores coming from Hanrahan’s boot saw Munster achieve a comfortable victory over a poor Castres side in the early 1pm kick off at Thomond Park.

Munster lost both Joey Carbery, due to a tight hamstring, and Chris Farrell, who pulled up in the wearm-up, prior to kick-off, with Hanrahan slotting into the No. 10 jersey and Sammy Arnold partnering Rory Scannell in the centre.

The home side went ahead in the 7th minute when Hanrahan scored a penalty from close range despite the strong swirling wind.

Johann van Graan’s side had another opportunity shortly afterwards when referee JP Doyle blew Castres for being in an offside position. This time, however, Munster opted to kick for the touchline instead of attempting the kick at goals, but the effort came to nothing.

With Munster putting pressure on the Castres throw-in and showing their dominance in the scrum through the power of Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan, Castres conceded 9 penalties to Munster’s 1 in the opening 40 minute period.

Another front row collapse from the TOP14 side gave Hanrahan another penalty kicking opportunity and the Kerryman moved his side into a 6-0 lead.

Despite Munster’s dominance in terms of possession (65%) and territory (73%) against a poor first half effort from Castres, the home team only went in with a 6 point advantage at the interval.

Credit: @ChampionsCup

In the second half, Conor Murray took possession off the base of the scrum with Rory Scannell running a line on the Limerickman’s inside. Murray passed inside to allow the centre cross over for the first try of the game. An excellent conversion attempt in difficult conditions from Hanrahan pushed Munster into a 13-0 advantage within the opening minutes of the second period.

When Urdapilleta’s pen kick was wide of the posts, Conor Murray in the end-goal area knocked the ball on. Referee Doyle checked with his TMO before awarding a 5m attacking scrum to the visitors. This was the French side’s best chance to open their scoring but again Munster’s discipline prevailed and the home team soon cleared the danger.

Hanrahan maintained his accuracy at kicking for the posts when dissecting the posts in the 58th minute, when van Graan’s side were awarded yet another penalty, their 12th of the game.

Munster scored their second try when Conor Murray made a break, sucked in the Castres defence and offloaded to CJ Stander who touched down before Hanrahan again kicked the conversion for 23-0 with 68 minutes played.

Hanrahan himself touched down for his side’s third five-pointer of the game following an excellent interchange between replacement Alby Mathewson, Rory Scannell and Hanrahan.

With the No. 10 maintaining his 100% scoring record when kicking for the posts, Munster now only needed one try for the bonus-point. They failed to achieve it, though, as Castres, through Martin Laveau crossed the line in injury time to give the visitors their only score of the game as they missed the conversion attempt which followed.

Final score: Munster Rugby 30 Castres Olympique 5

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