Munster let it slip in Paris
Racing Metro 22 Munster 17:A late Olly Barkley penalty helped Racing Metro snatch an unlikely Pool One win over Munster on a miserable day in Paris.The visitors had thrown away a comfortable first-half lead at the Stade de France but they looked to have recovered when Simon Zebo cut a swathe through the home defence with seven minutes left.
But with just three minutes on the clock Conor Murray was penalised for holding on inside his 22 and Barkley – making his first start for the club – kicked the home side two points in front.
Mirco Bergamasco then struck another penalty in the dying seconds minute to give the French club the win.
Sean Dougall’s 15th-minute try had helped Munster into a 10-0 lead, while Ronan O’Gara passed 1300 Heineken Cup points as Munster looked in complete control.
But when Doug Howlett failed to collect a low pass from O’Gara, home scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud chased through for a try on 31 minutes.
Barkley, starting at outhalf after signing from Bath, then kicked Racing 13-10 ahead at half-time.
After a scrappy start to the second half in muddy conditions, the England international struck another huge penalty to extend the home side’s lead.
Zebo scored with seven minutes left and Ian Keatley’s conversion put Munster 17-16 in front, only for two late infringements to see Racing steal the points.
Six of the Munster side were making their first starts in Europe but they showed no fear from the outset as Keatley’s chip through forced Benjamin Fall to fumble on his own line.
That gave Munster a five-metre scrum and when Racing were penalised under the posts, O’Gara had the simple task of slotting over after nine minutes.
Six minutes later Munster’s early dominance was rewarded further. Billy Holland touched down a lineout deep in Racing’s 22 for Murray and Peter O’Mahony to set up Dougall, who showed admirable footwork to skip home under the posts.
O’Gara converted but Barkley replied with a monster penalty to make it 10-3 after 19 minutes.
Munster’s then sacked Barkley behind his own posts to earn another five-metre scrum, and when O’Mahony was held up on the line, Paul O’Connell thought he had done enough to earn a second try.
It went upstairs though and the video showed that the iconic second row had dropped the ball.
Racing were struggling to get out of their own half but they got right back into the game on 31 minutes after O’Gara’s pass was spilled by Howlett.
Jacques Cronje kicked towards the try line and Machenaud was the man to benefit, the Racing scrumhalf getting the benefit of the doubt after his messy touchdown.
Suddenly it was 10-10 and Munster suffered another blow when O’Gara was forced off with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Denis Hurley.
It almost got worse when Casey Laulala’s clearance was charged down inside his 22. Keatley covered up well but the home fans claimed that Karim Ghezal was taken out by Murray as the Racing man closed in on the loose ball.
But Barkley added another penalty as Racing somehow found themselves 13-10 up at half-time.
The second half was incredibly scrappy in horrendous conditions but, after Barkley extended Racing’s lead, Zebo slalomed through the Racing defence to score.
Murray’s infringement proved crucial though as Barkley kept his cool, with Bergamasco’s penalty simply adding insult to injury.