Rugby

Player Ratings As Munster Pull Off Another Famous Thomond Park Victory

Player Ratings As Munster Pull Off Another Famous Thomond Park Victory

First Toulon were grounded, and then they were confounded.

The French aristocrats utterly dominated the first-half (they didn't allow Munster out of their own 22 for the opening ten minutes) but found themselves 10-6 down at half-time, thanks to some superb Munster defending along with quick-thinking from Conor Murray, who was sharp enough to realise that a Toulon knock-on meant the ball was out of the ruck and thus fair game. A lengthy TMO deliberation yielded the right result.

Munster dominated the third-quarter but only had an Ian Keatley penalty to show for it, and were then sliced open by the majesty of substitute Francois Trinh-Duch, who feigned to pass before eventually finding Basteruad, who then sent Ashton over the line. The introduction of Trinh-Duch seemed to have swung the game for Toulon, and it was he who managed to subdue a hitherto crackling Thomond. While the famous ground prides itself on falling silent for the kicker, this was a rare example of prolonged silence for the opposition fly-half.

But then, he inexplicably failed to find touch with a clearance kick. Andrew Conway gathered and cut what would be a historic line through the Toulon defence, weaving through a series of flailing tackles to touch down beneath the posts.

Munster clung on as Toulon hammered their line for the remaining four minutes, but they closed out a famous 20-19 victory. Here's how we rated them.

Simon Zebo - N/A 

Made a crucial intervention after 40 seconds to deny Chris Ashton, although was perhaps fortunate to escape being penalised for a penalty try. Cruelly, he was injured in the act, and while he struggled on for another twenty-odd minutes, he was eventually forced off in floods of tears. A cruel end to his final European appearance for Munster at Thomond.

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Andrew Conway - 9.5

Even before he scored one of the great tries in Munster's history, this was a phenomenal performance by Conway, defensively as well as in attack. A couple of try-saving tackles in the first-half were critical, but my word, that try....a bolt for Munster history.

Sammy Arnold - 8.5

Some of Arnold's tackling was remarkable, with an exquisite chop on Basteraud providing the impetus for the move which ultimately led to Murray's try. Magnificent.

Rory Scannell - 8.5 

Scannell's being passed fit for this game proved an even bigger boost than was thought beforehand. This was a magnificent performance from Scannell, replete with some magnificent carries.

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Alex Wootton - 7.5

Wootton struggled to make the same impact as Conway (hardly a criticism), but a last-gasp intervention on Tuisova caused him to knock-on inches before the Munster line.

Ian Keatley - 8 

Game-running responsibilities largely fell to Murray, but Keatley found corners of Thomond when he needed to. While some of his kicking from hand was loose, he was flawless off the tee.

Conor Murray - 9 

The best scrum-half in the world was on form once again today,and showed some exceptionally quick-thinking to put Munster in front. While everyone else is playing checkers, Murray is playing chess.

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Dave Kilcoyne - 7.5

Lasted 53 minutes before Van Grann refreshed the front row. A fine performance from Kilcoyne, in which he carried extremely well and tackled maniacally - he made 12 in his time on the field.

Rhys Marshall - 7

Marshall made way after 53 minutes, following an accomplished performance around the field. His darts were perfect as Munster utterly dominated the lineout.

Stephen Archer - 7

After a horrid wobble five metres from their own line in the first minute, Archer and the rest of the Munster scrum steadied well from there. Like Kilcoyne, he carried five times.

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Jean Kleyn - 8

Phenomenal industry from Kleyn - 18 tackles - and while he gave away a sloppy penalty in the second-half, he was part of a Munster pack which gained parity at the scrum and utterly ruined the Toulon lineout.

Billy Holland - 8 

What has been written for Kleyn can be said for Holland. He matched his second-row partner's effort with 18 tackles, and was a nusiance to Toulon on their own lineout, too.

Peter O'Mahony - 9

Guirardo will have his nightmares haunted by O'Mahony. The captain almost single-handedly laid waste to the Toulon lineout, and led the drive to the line that would ultimately end in Conway's unfathomable brilliance.

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Jack O'Donoghue - 8 

Munsters third-choice 7 came into this game with pressure heaped on his shoulders, and after a troubling start in which he lost the ball in contact and got pinged at the breakdown, he grew into the game. He made a massive carry for Munster's first try, and tackled ferociously (making 12 of them).

CJ Stander - 8 

Another industrious performance from Stander, and out-carried his Munster teammates by a factor: 15 carries, the next closest was Scannell with 9.

Replacements - 9 

Darren Sweetnam made an instant impact as Zebo's replacement by winning a crucial penalty. John Ryan, Niall Scannell, and James Cronin arrived onto the field and immediately won a monstrous penalty from a scrum. Robin Copeland, Gerbrandt Grobler and James Hart were all on the field for the final few minutes as we shoved our hearts into our mouths, and all kept their discipline to close out a famous Munster victory.

 

 

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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