Heineken Champions Cup: Toulouse beat Munster to open Thomond Park

Matthis Lebel scores Toulouse's first try at Thomond Park on Sunday
Matthis Lebel scores Toulouse’s first try at Thomond Park on Sunday
Muenster: (10) 13
Try: Carbery The inconvenients: Carbery Pens: Carbery 2
Toulouse: (10) 18
Try: Label, Tauzin The inconvenients: Ramos Pens: Ramos 2

Toulouse began their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a hard-fought 18-13 victory over Munster in difficult conditions at Thomond Park.

Joey Carbery scored all of Munster’s points – 10 of them in the first half with a converted try and a penalty.

Toulouse responded with a converted try from Matthis Lebel and a penalty to make it 10-10 at the break.

Lucas Tauzin went over for a Toulouse second try while a Carbery penalty gave the hosts a losing bonus point.

Despite freezing temperatures, the Limerick venue was packed for the ninth meeting between these two European heavyweights – and the third in as many seasons

The French side have knocked Munster out of the competition in each of the past two years, most recently in a spectacular penalty shootout at the Aviva Stadium earlier this year.

The opening exchanges between these rivals looked like a tussle, as both sides sought to gain the upper hand in icy and foggy conditions in Limerick.

The hosts were the first to emerge from the pack, with fly-half Carbery dashing down the try-line from close range after a patient build-up in the Toulouse 22. Carbery added the extras on his own try.

Fog descends on Thomond Park as Munster's Mike Haley challenges Matthis Lebel for the ball
Fog descends on Thomond Park as Munster’s Mike Haley challenges Matthis Lebel for the ball

Toulouse fought back late in the first quarter, with full-back Thomas Ramos firing an excellent pass from 20 yards out to exploit the full width of the pitch, giving Lebel space to finish in the corner. Ramos was precise with the boot to bring the visitors level.

Both teams struggled to gain the upper hand in a very physical and abrasive first half, although Toulouse seemed to grow through the game in terms of territory and possession over time.

The ebb and flow continued, with the two teams trading penalties via Carbery and Ramos to bring the scoring level before the break.

Despite deteriorating visibility as the game progressed, the crowd was in full swing with the game on a knife edge as both teams came out for the second half.

The visitors quickly broke the deadlock after a well-worked move from the back of a line-out maul, with Antoine Dupont sending the ball to Tauzin, who crashed to put his side ahead . The missed conversion left just five points between the two teams and a tense third quarter followed.

Ramos squandered the chance to put his team two points ahead as the game entered the third quarter.

Munster struggled to capitalize on meaningful possession spells, turning the ball over too many times. However, the home side fought well and sometimes made life difficult for Toulouse in defence.

In the end, a period of Toulouse possession was rewarded with a penalty. On this occasion, Ramos succeeded from the tee shot to extend his side’s lead.

A late penalty from Carberry would not be enough to threaten the outcome but gave his team that losing bonus point.

Toulouse leave as deserved winners and Munster will now focus on preparations for their match at Northampton next week.

Muenster: Haley; Nash, Frisch, Scannell, Daly; Carbery, Casey; Loughman, Scannell, Ryan; Kleyn, Beirne; O’Mahony (captain), Hodnett, Coombes.

Replacements: Barron, Wycherley, Salanoa, O’Donoghue, Kendellen, Patterson, Crowley, Earls.

Toulouse: Ramos; Capuozzo, Delibes, Ahki, Lebel; Ntamack, Dupont (captain); Neti, Merchant, Aldegheri; Arnold, Meafou; Jelonch, Placines, Roumat.

Replacements: Mauvaka, Baille, Faumuina, Flament, Youyoutte, Willis, Relo, Tauzin.

Arbitrator: Christopher Ridley (England)

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