Heineken Cup: Leinster nearly fail to the Chiefs, Munster get mugged and Connacht make history
Heineken Cup results:
Leinster 9-6 Exeter
Racing Metro 22–17 Munster
Zebre 10-19 Connacht
It was a mixed day at the office for the Irish sides in the Heineken Cup, but Leinster and Connacht were at least left with something to smile about.
The reigning Champions were far from their best against an Exeter side who seemed intent on making an impact at the RDS but they managed to hold out for a scrappy victory without scoring a try, which doesn’t happen to Joe Schmidt’s side very often.
Reflecting Leinster’s day as whole, Jonathan Sexton was only average with the boot, but he did manage to nail three penalties to Gareth Steenson’s two for Exeter.
Given their display throughout the 80 minutes, Leinster will have been delighted to emerge as three-point winners, particularly after Ignacio Mieres spurned an admittedly difficult chance to level matters with the very last kick of the game.
There wasn’t much in it in the end in Paris either as Munster gained a losing bonus point in defeat to Racing Metro but they’ll know that they should be returning home with far more to show for their efforts.
In truly awful conditions in the Stade de France, Munster were completely dominant in the opening half an hour and led 10-0 midway through the first half thanks to a try from Sean Dougall and five points from Ronan O’Gara, who dictated matters early on and whose loss through injury before half-time was huge for the visitors.
Complacency from Munster allowed Racing back into it and Maxime Machenaud’s try just after the hour was the kick up the arse the hosts needed.
Three penalties from Olly Barkley put Racing in the driving seat and Munster looked destined to end up empty handed until Simon Zebo struck for a brilliant solo try seven minutes from the end.
That should have been the cue for Rob Penney’s men to see it out, but instead, two moments of madness from Conor Murray led to two easily kickable penalties for Racing, they were converted by Barkley and Mirco Bergamasco and the travelling contingent were left wondering what might have been.
Thankfully, the Connacht fans that travelled to Italy were left with a lot more to smile about as the Westerners claimed their first ever Heineken Cup away win with a nine-point defeat of new boys Zebre.
A try from John Muldoon just over the hour mark proved crucial for a Connacht side who were wasteful in attack at times but held on for a win that will give them huge confidence heading into next weekend’s encounter against Harlequins at the Sportsground, a repeat of the Westerners’ first ever Heineken Cup victory earlier this season.