Heineken Champions Cup: Munster snatch late win at Castres as Harlequins rally to beat Cardiff


Munster secured a third Champions Cup victory of the season in dramatic late fashion vs Castres – confirming their round-of-16 place – as Gavin Coombes scored with virtually the final attack of the game; Marcus Smith instrumental as Quins come from 33-19 down to win 36-33 at Cardiff

Last Updated: 14/01/22 10:52pm

Munster’s Gavin Coombes celebrates his last-gasp try to beat Castres in France in the Champions Cup

A Gavin Coombes try in the final stages saw Munster snatch a 16-13 Heineken Champions Cup victory over Castres at the Stade Pierre-Fabre. 

Munster, who knew victory in France would confirm a round-of-16 place, went into a 3-0 lead courtesy of 22-year-old out-half Jack Crowley – playing with Joey Carbery and Ben Healy unavailable.

Castres responded with a try through full-back Thomas Larregain, and led for the majority thereafter as Ben Botica and Crowley traded four further penalties.

That was until Coombes’ intervention in the closing minutes, as, on penalty advantage, he reached out to score the match-winner.

Coombes reaches out to score the decisive try late on at the Stade Pierre-Fabre

Coombes reaches out to score the decisive try late on at the Stade Pierre-Fabre

Munster had earlier blown three penalty kicks to touch, making a mess of the lineout each time. But Coombes’ score made up for those errors, as they made it three wins from three in this year’s competition.

Crowley kicked Munster into an 11th-minute lead with a penalty after Castres scrum-half Santiago Arata had gone off his feet at a breakdown. The pushing and shoving that followed was a brief reminder of previous spicy encounters between the two sides in this competition.

Munster quickly settled into a set-piece plan where they were confident they would have the upper hand. They kept things simple in their own half, kicking for territory cleverly, while Tadhg Beirne and captain Peter O’Mahony ramped up the pressure on the set-piece and breakdown.

Munster's 22-year-old out-half Jack Crowley kicked three penalties and a conversion in the win

Munster’s 22-year-old out-half Jack Crowley kicked three penalties and a conversion in the win

But Castres were both scrappy and disciplined, giving little away and troubling Munster more than they would have expected in the tight and the loose.

Full-back Larregain’s 28th-minute try – his first for Castres since joining from ProD2 side Colomiers – was the highlight of a messily enthralling opening half. Botica added the extras.

He was the first on the scene when Botica chipped over Munster’s solid defensive line after the hosts had battered away for several phases following a penalty kicked to touch just outside the visitors’ five-metre line.

Thomas Larregain scored a first-half try for Castres, but they could not see the game out

Thomas Larregain scored a first-half try for Castres, but they could not see the game out

Munster fought their way back into the lead in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, courtesy of two Crowley penalties.

But they gave away two kickable chances of their own after 55 and 66 minutes. Botica converted both to make it 13-9.

Castres then tried to shut the game down. They seemed to have played the percentages better than Munster had earlier, until Coombes’ late score which was converted by Crowley.

Cardiff 33-36 Harlequins

Marcus Smith landed a match-winning penalty with the game’s final kick as Harlequins claimed a thrilling 36-33 Heineken Champions Cup victory over Cardiff.

Marcus Smith landed a penalty with the final kick of the match to beat Cardiff

Marcus Smith landed a penalty with the final kick of the match to beat Cardiff

The England fly-half had pounced four minutes from time, scoring a try which he converted, and then confirmed his team’s place in the competition’s round of 16 through a nerveless last-gasp strike.

The Gallagher Premiership champions looked as though they would pay a hefty price for captain Alex Dombrandt’s second-half yellow card.

Cardiff turned the game – played behind closed doors at the Arms Park – on its head while England international Dombrandt was off, scoring three quickfire tries.

But Quins dug deep as Smith added to earlier tries from Louis Lynagh, Tyrone Green, Luke Northmore and Danny Care, while he also kicked four conversions and a penalty for a 16-point haul.

Smith won the game for Harlequins with his penalty after scoring a try to level matters

Smith won the game for Harlequins with his penalty after scoring a try to level matters

Wing Owen Lane led the way for Cardiff, touching down twice as Wales head coach Wayne Pivac looked on, with forwards James Ratti, Dillon Lewis and Corey Domachowski also scoring and fly-half Jarrod Evans adding four conversions.





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