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IT FELT AS if it was going to be one of those unforgettable nights at Thomond Park once again as JJ Hanrahan dropped into the pocket and the Limerick crowd held its breath, willing the drop-goal to bisect the posts.
A late Andrew Conway try and Hanrahan’s excellent conversion had given Munster a chance at the death but, ultimately, it was disappointment as the out-half’s effort slipped narrowly wide and the visiting Racing 92 were able to celebrate an impressive away draw in the fortress that is Thomond Park.
While Munster did avoid slipping to just their sixth home defeat in the Heineken Cup, losing a fixture in Limerick could prove costly if Saracens can cause them problems in their back-to-back European ties next month.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Having opened with a bonus-point win last weekend away to the Ospreys, Munster will have deep frustrations with failing to secure a victory back on home soil, though Racing deserve major credit for efforts.
Classy out-half Finn Russell was at the heart of most of Racing’s best moments, with a brilliant solo score in the first-half the highlight as he nutmegged a Munster defender with a grubber kick before regathering to dot down.
He also teed up left wing Juan Imhoff’s second-half try with a superb break, while right wing Teddy Thomas scored a stunning first-half try after collecting his own chip kick.
Familiar faces returned to Thomond Park with Racing in the shape of Donnacha Ryan, who was strong in the second row, and Simon Zebo, who managed to prevent a Hanrahan try in the opening half, but perhaps former Munster scrum-half Mike Prendergast was most impressive of all as his Racing attack shone.
Munster scored an excellent try through Keith Earls on the stroke of half time to keep themselves in the mix, but Racing will rue a missed penalty shot in the second period that would have left them 24-14 in front.
Johann van Graan’s men managed to rally for an impressive late Conway score but the winning drop goal didn’t materialise. A home draw leaves Munster with plenty still to do in this Heineken Cup pool.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Munster enjoyed more than 60% of the possession and territory in the opening half but found themselves trailing 14-11 at the break, albeit boosted by Earls’ excellent score in the left corner in the 40th minute.
Van Graan’s side had been first off the mark with a Harahan penalty after Racing number eight Antonie Claassen blatantly held Conor Murray off the ball as he approached a ruck, with Munster showing plenty of attacking ambition early in the game.
That threat included fullback Mike Haley making a scything 17th-minute break on kick return but that was immediately followed up by Murray’s pass rebounding off the head of Niall Scannell, with Racing pinning Munster into t
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