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13th Jan 2024

Jack Crowley and Jordan Larmour send Six Nations message with European heroics

Patrick McCarry


Jack Crowley proved he could bounce back from an early set-back, and led his team to a big away day win in Europe, in Toulon.

On Monday of this week, Andy Farrell was preparing for his trip to London, where he would be confirmed as British & Irish Lions head coach, when he was hit with a double injury blow. Mack Hansen (shoulder) and Jimmy O’Brien (neck) were both ruled out. On Saturday evening, he will be feeling a lot better about matters closer to home.

Against Stade Francais, in Dublin, James Lowe scored on his return to the Leinster team, Tadhg Furlong was back for his first game of the year and two-try Jordan Larmour showed he needs to be in Six Nations contention. In Toulon, just before that Leinster match, Munster recorded a superb away win.

22 minutes into the match, at Stade Mayol, Munster were trailing 3-0 when an ordinary kick from Crowley was punished by Jiuta Wainiqolo’s stunning break and assist. From 10-0 down, though, Crowley and Munster roared back. Just before half-time, Crowley dinked one over the Toulon defence to tee up Simon Zebo for a fine score.

More Crowley magic followed, after the break, when he took advantage of a broken play attack to tee up Tom Ahern for a try that gave the URC champs some breathing room.

Jack Crowley and others that sent Six Nations message

Toulon responded through Cornell du Preez but the Munster clincher – and try-scoring bonus point – arrived after 58 minutes.

Craig Casey sent a steepler into the French sky and Calvin Nash pouched it at full pace, landing and bursting for the try-line. Andy Farrell will need a No.14 for the Six Nations and, one poor first half defensive moment aside, Nash did himself plenty of favours with this performance.

Jack Crowley was named man of the match – kicking for nine points and two assists. Ciarán Frawley was looked tidy for Leinster against Stade Francais – before going off injured after 44 minutes. Billy Burns may be back in the selection chats. Still, Crowley looks odds on to start against France at Stade Velodrome, on February 2.

The other Munster stars that showed Farrell they are ready to rock in the Six Nations were Tadhg Beirne, Gavin Coombes and fullback Simon Zebo, who scored his 35th European Cup try. It has been almost seven years since Zebo last played for Ireland. That Irish squad is named on Wednesday, and the Cork native has been impressive in his last four outings in red.

Elsewhere in the Champions Cup, Connacht lost 34-20 to a Lyon side that had Paddy Jackson in their No.10 jersey. Leinster ended up beating Stade Francais 43-7.

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