Munster 17 Bayonne 17
We leave you with Johnny Watterson’s report from Thomond Park. Be sure to tune back in tomorrow when we’ll have live coverage of Leinster’s trip to La Rochelle.
Meters made in attack: Munster 276, Bayonne 353
Clean breaks: Munster 5, Bayonne 12
Defenders beaten: Munster 13, Bayonne 20
Say what you want about Bayonne’s scrum and maul being dominant, the above numbers show they were simply the better attacking team as well.
It’s hard to state how much of a debilitating result this could be for Munster. They have to travel to Exeter next week, Toulon in January and then host Northampton who beat Glasgow last night. This group just got a whole lot more difficult and Munster likely cannot afford another slip up on their travels.
Here is the try that left Bayonne with a draw. A brilliant maul from 20m out, but questions need to be asked of Munster’s set-piece.
Thomond Park is as deflated as it has been in a long time.
Wow. Bayonne shock everyone and cash in on a lethargic second half Munster performance to steal a share of the points. Arthur Iturria was simply fantastic off the bench. His impact at the lineout, breakdown and in the carry gave Bayonne a spark that swung the momentum their way. That culminated with Baget’s score, Munster once again unable to hold out a maul after Glasgow punished them in that area last week.
Full-time: Munster 17 Bayonne 17
After a hap of phases, Crowley drops back into the pocket. Casey finds him but the drop-goal attempt is poorly struck and drifts wide. Bayonne have snatched a draw!
80 mins: Ahern steals the lineout! Munster will have one last attack to try and steal it.
79 mins: Bayonne have the ball back inside the 22. They’re trying to set up a drop-goal with the clock winding down but Munster rip in contact - Beirne again. Casey kicks clear, the ball just about rolling into touch back inside the Bayonne half.
Bayonne have a conversion attempt to level the match! A penalty for Clarke failing to roll away leaves to a lineout and a rolling maul from 20m out. After making plenty of ground, scrumhalf Aprasidze breaks down the short side and feeds Baget, his step inside beating the last man for the score.
Dolhagaray’s touchline conversion is a beauty and WE ARE LEVEL!
73 mins: Brilliant from Beirne and then Casey. Munster’s captain initially gets through the maul to disrupt before Casey targets the exposed ball carrier and forces a maul turnover. A big moment with Bayonne’s attack starting to look threatening.
73 mins: Wow. Buttler is on at 10 and his first involvement of note is to try a cross-kick on his own 22. To be fair to him, it was on. McCarthy was in acres of space but the kick was just overcooked as it goes into touch.
71 mins: Chance wasted. Tagi of all people carries down the short side after Iturria single-handedly dragged Bayonne into the 22. What an impact he’s had off the bench. They get set to start hammering away at the line but replacement hooker Acquier spills the ball before contact.
69 mins: Crowley kicked that Beirne penalty into the corner but Arthur Iturria poaches the ball at the lineout.
67 mins: It’s all very messy now. First Ahern breaks brilliantly out wide. His offload goes to deck, but it’s not the worst result as he was isolated and Casey still gets the ball back. He flings it to Crowley who, with nothing on, shanks an attempted up-and-under. Bayonne regather, but there’s Beirne to get in over the ball and win another breakdown penalty.
65 mins: Wow. What in the name of god was that from Tadhg Beirne? Munster should have scored initially when Nash broke from just outside the 22 up to the line. A pass would have guaranteed a try, but he held onto the ball. Instead, Munster hammer away at the line. That is, until Beirne tries to throw a wide ball to one of three teammates waiting in space only to fling the ball into touch. Might be the worst thing he’s ever done on a rugby pitch.
62 mins: Nearly. A handling error in a backline move gone wrong nearly sees Munster gather and break. Scannell hacks through into the 22 but Bayonne get back to recover. They do go back for a Munster scrum after the initial handling error.
60 mins: Munster come up with a pair of big breakdown turnovers. First Ahern on one side of the field before Kendellen follows suit after a half-break from Tom Spring. Munster needed that, Bayonne had their tails up in attack.
55 mins: Crowley knocks over the easy penalty to stretch Munster’s lead out to seven.
54 mins: Munster are knocked backwards out of the 22 before Tagi comes up with an intercept. There was an advantage for a tackle off the ball from Machenaud. Crowley summons the kicking tee.
52 mins: Penalties at back-to-back lineouts see Munster advance to 5m from the line. Pearce warns Bayonne that a yellow is coming as Munster tap and go off the penalty.
TRY JUNIOR TAGI
Game well and truly on. Baget’s dummy and step into the 22 is beautiful. From there, Bayonne hammer away at the line and Tagi, the Fijian international, uses his massive frame to burst through Beirne and score. Machenaud converts.
46 mins: The attack comes to an end when Coombes gives away a penalty for going in the side of the ruck. Munster have been scrappy to start this half.
44 mins: O’Connor’s had a busy few minutes. This time he swings into the backline late to carry into space out wide. He actually runs into Tom Ahern’s space, if he straightened up he would have had a two-on-one to send the backrower away. As it is, he attempts to kick, it’s charged down and goes into touch on the 22. A few fisticuffs after, but nothing serious and play continues with the Munster lineout.
43 mins: A brilliant chip over the top sends Tiberghien away into space. Nash does well to haul him down and then O’Connor gets in over the ball to win it back for Munster.
41 mins: Right then. Jack Crowley kicks off the second half with Zombie blaring out the loudspeakers. Machenaud clears off the restart for Bayonne. O’Connor spills but does so in a way which keeps the ball in play and sends it backwards. Munster play on.
It’s been quite the battle at the breakdown, both sides notching a pair of turnovers on the floor apiece.
Bayonne are winning the kicking battle, making 314 metres from the boot compared to Munster’s 277. The visitors have also made more metres in attack, 141 to 106 with 6 clean breaks compared to Munster’s 2.
Munster are just about good value for their lead, but the gap could easily be narrower. Bayonne’s ill-discipline allowed Munster into the 22 twice in the opening quarter and they were ruthlessly efficient with McCarthy and Coombes’ scores from close range.
Since then, Bayonne have clicked a little bit. Offloads have stuck, tackles have been missed and they have created one try-scoring chance and a few half-ones. Only a spill from hooker Bosch cost fullback Tiberghien a try that would have narrowed the gap.
Munster have been good at the lineout, but struggled at the scrum where monster tighthead Tatafu has caused problems. A scrappy game, with Munster showing just about more accuracy to hold the lead.
Half-time: Munster 14 Bayonne 3
Machenaud kicks the ball off with the clock in the red as the teams head for the sheds.
39 mins: Fantastic defence from Bruni. The Argentinian number eight powers his way through the Munster maul to wrap up Buckley and force the scrum turnover.
38 mins: Brilliant from Ahern as he jumps at the front of the lineout to pinch the Bayonne throw. Munster go from flank to flank with ball in hand and earn a penalty when Bosch fails to roll away. Crowley kicks into the corner.
37 mins: Munster are screaming for a penalty try after what they see as a deliberate knock from Baget. Crowley looked to send Hodnett over in the corner but it bounces off the winger instead of going to hand. Replays show it actually hit Baget’s knee, so it’s not a deliberate knock. A moment of fortune for Bayonne as Hodnett would have been in.
35 mins: Brilliant from Nankivell. He probably didn’t release the defender before going in for the ball, but Pearce rewards him nonetheless with the holding-on penalty. Tiberghien then screams at the touch judge in protest and Bayonne are marched back another 10m.
30 mins: Bayonne centre Muscarditz takes a blow to the head in contact. He’s in a very bad way and has to come off, I doubt they’ll even conduct. a HIA, his day is done. Arnaud Erbinartegaray is on for him.
29 mins: Bayonne’s best piece of attack as Tiberghien bumps off O’Connor with ease. Baget breaks into the 22 but then two poor passes ruin everything, the second of which goes into touch instead of a Bayonne hand.
25 mins: Wow. Munster get shoved off the ball at the scrum again. Muscarditz grubbers in behind and Crowley has to scamper to get to the ball in-goal. Baget looks to bat it back and a teammate follows up to score, but the winger’s foot was over the dead-ball line when he made contact.
NOT SO FAST! Facundo Bosch spilled the ball in the build-up. The TMO spots it and Munster get away with one.
Bayonne hit back immediately. It all starts with Machenaud’s break and offload. Perchaud takes up the ghost, barging into the 22 before offloading in turn. There was a hint of a knock-on, but play continues and with Munster scrambling Tiberghien scores in the corner.
TRY GAVIN COOMBES
A trademark score from Munster’s number eight. Yards out from the line after a good attack off the back of a lineout, Coombes does what he does so often and powers his way over. Crowley converts.
NO CARD! Pearce says it was a low degree of danger and there was a late change of direction from O’Brien. Penalty only.
19 mins: Sean O’Brien is gone off for a HIA. Jack Crowley is shouting at Pearce to check the collision that caused it and eventually the TMO intervenes. There is definitely head contact from Rodrigo Bruni. Looks like a card, the question is what colour?
18 mins: Ahern tears away down the right flank in space. He is relishing that new role as the wide forward in the 6 jersey. A sloppy pass a few phases later sees Munster retreat back to halfway. Crowley says enough is enough, kicks long and high for Hodnett to chase, but Tiberghien gathers safely for Bayonne.
15 mins: Bayonne are piling the pressure on in the scrum. Both frontrows come up on this occasion and referee Pearce resets things.
12 mins: Munster continue to pile on the pressure. Nankivell grubbers forward on turnover ball and Baget covers, only to be shunted into touch by the chasing McCarthy.
TRY SHAY MCCARTHY
The decision to go to the corner pays off. After a number of phases with quick ball, Bayonne are sucked in. The pass goes to McCarthy in space and for some reason he checks his run, giving the defence time to react. It’s still some finish, powering through two would-be tacklers to reach and score.
7 mins: Crowley, Scannell and O’Brien all get their wires crossed on an attempted backline play. The ball hits the deck but Munster regather. They earn a penalty when Perchaud fails to roll away, but Munster turn down the three in favour of the corner.
4 mins: Oh wow. A big flex of the set-piece muscle early on. Munster’s frontrow is completely eviscerated at the scrum and Pearce gives them the penalty. Easy kick coming up in front of the posts, Machenaud doesn’t miss.
3 mins: Frustrating start for Bayonne. Dolhagaray at outhalf takes his eye off a pop pass behind a forward pod and spills the ball forward. Their first attack into the 22 comes to nothing.
2 mins: Munster fans aren’t happy. Buckley is in over the ball legally, but referee Luke Pearce says McCarthy didn’t roll away and affected the clear. Bayonne go into the corner.
1 min: We’re underway in Thomond Park! Bayonne compete well at the kick-off and McCarthy has to hunt for the loose ball on the floor. Possession secured, Murray goes to the air with a contestable kick. Beirne rips the ball away at the breakdown as Bayonne can’t hang onto the ball.
The thoughts of Graham Rowntree ahead of kick-off.
Munster, even without that cohort of injured players, have a surfeit of talent and performance momentum to get their European campaign off to a perfect start with a bonus-point victory.— John O'Sullivan
A prediction from Irish Times rugby writer John O’Sullivan. You can read the full preview here.
Bayonne have rotate heavily ahead of this clash. Once again, the issue of French teams prioritising the Top14 over Europe rears its head.
There’s no Australia fullback Reece Hodge, while regular outhalf Camille Lopez also is not in the matchday 23. From the team that beat Montpellier at home last week 11 players have dropped out, including hooker Giudicelli, locks Paulos and Ceyte, backrows Iturria and Cassiem.
There is a familiar face at scrumhalf where French international Maxime Machenaud starts.
It’s an interesting Munster team today. Despite looking to have taken over as the first choice 9, Craig Casey is on the bench as Conor Murray starts. Calvin Nash shifts from the wing to fullback, Shay McCarthy and Sean O’Brien are on the wings.
Up front, Ahern continues as blindside flanker and with Jean Kleyn and Edwin Edogbo injured, Fineen Wycherley starts at secondrow alongisde Tadhg Beirne, who is captain for the day. There’s no Diarmuid Barron, so Buckley starts at hooker.
There’s no secondrow cover outright on the bench given injuries, so Jack O’Donoghue lines out in the 19 shirt. Young outhalf Tony Butler continues to take up a bench spot with Joey Carbery a long time injury absentee.
One province followed by another, the Champions Cup action continues as Munster welcome Bayonne to Thomond Park. Nathan Johns here to guide you through all the action ahead of the 5.30pm kick-off.