Mediocre Munster march on to quarter-finals
Munster 26-10 Castres
They’ll take a win and a place in the knockout stages, but Munster didn’t exactly set the world alight in their Heineken Cup victory over Castres at Thomond Park.
Sloppiness and a lack of execution of basic skills marred Munster’s performance, but who can argue with five wins from five games, especially after the heartbreak of going out at the group stages last year.
Johne Murphy and Wian du Preez crossed for the hosts at either end of the game, with the excellent Ronan O’Gara adding 16 points with the boot.
With jack all apart from pride to play for, Castres gave a spirited performance and came within three points at one stage, but despite their faults, Munster always looked like they were going to prevail with a degree of comfort.
O’Gara was his typical excellent self and Donnacha Ryan gave a towering performance in the second row, but Tony McGahan will know they’ll need to be better than this if they are going to make an impact later in the competition.
Toulouse 24-3 Connacht
Going up against the aristocrats of European rugby was always going to be a tall order for Connacht, but they gave a good account of themselves in the south of France earlier today.
Having lost all four games to date, Connacht had little Toulouse (pardon the pun) and delivered a display that will help restore their pride somewhat, stuck as they are in a miserable losing run that dates back to mid-September.
The Westerners trailed 10-3 at the break after tries from Timoci Matanavou and Maxime Medard for Toulouse in the first half with Niall O’Connor landing a penalty in response.
Eric Elwood’s men almost managed to prevent Toulouse from gaining a precious bonus point until Matanavou touched down for his second try with only a few minutes left on the clock. Lionel Beauxis added the conversion to put a gloss on the final scoreline that was harsh on the visitors after a commendable performance.