Munster have missed a big chance; roll up, roll up, we have a Premier League title race

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Munster players look on before Andrew Conway’s try was disallowed during the Champions Cup defeat to Castres. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Munster players look on before Andrew Conway’s try was disallowed during the Champions Cup defeat to Castres. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

As the wind and rain continues to sweep in across the country, bringing with it some damp festive cheer, Gerry Thornley writes that Munster were the big losers over the weekend in the Irish stakes as they missed out on a big opportunity to open up a gap in Pool 2 after their ill-tempered loss to Castres. “It’s hard to know which left the worst taste in the mouth from Munster’s defeat away by Castres on Saturday, but it probably wasn’t the way some of the home team went about their business, nor even the shoddy officiating which might have seen the home side penalised more heavily than they actually were,” he writes. After failing to even enter Munster’s 22 for over half the game the previous week in Thomond Park, the French side were ready to dish out some of their own tactics on home soil and they did so to their advantage. However, Munster coach Johann van Graan says he was very pleased with how his players dealt with the intimidation. “I’m a believer in this game, that is why I am in it. You play it to the best of your ability and we respect our opponents every single week. After the game, you look at what happened, learn and move on,” he said.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s draw for the last 16 of the Champions League threw up some very interesting ties with Manchester United set to face off against PSG, Spurs against Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City against Schalke and Liverpool will meet Bayern Munich. Some are much too tight to call but we’ve attempted to do so anyway with a last 16 tie-by-tie analysis. Back to league matters in England and Barney Ronay writes that the Premier League title race is well set to become a three-way jam with Spurs and Liverpool showing no signs of letting up as they attempt to prise the trophy from the grasp of Manchester City. “With the festive fixture glut approaching, we can now say it for certain. Welcome, Premier League watchers, to an actual, real-life title race,” he writes.

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