New low for misfiring Reds as 14-man Stade highlight painful decline
Stade Francais 27 Munster 7
At the beginning, Munster's hope was sucked out of them because they couldn't take their opportunities, but by the end of this defeat to a 14-man Stade side there was a far more worrying sight for fans as their side simply gave up.
They were beaten in every area of the game. After losing BJ Botha to a knee injury, their scrum was obliterated, their lineout faulty, their backline barely functioned as a cohesive unit and Ian Keatley endured another nightmare.
During the first half, they defended stoutly but at times appeared to be clinging on. With Andrew Conway (hip) and Tommy O'Donnell (head) joining Botha in the medical room, the defence wobbled.
Stade fielded a somewhat weakened team, but still had plenty of class, enough to dominate despite losing Fijian winger Josaia Raisuqe to a red card for putting his fingers in CJ Stander's eyes during a confrontation before half-time.
"It's a low low," Anthony Foley said. "Losing at home are the ones that hurt, hurt, hurt. . . dig deepest into you.
"To be in a position here where, after 30 minutes it's nil-all and traditionally you weather the first 20 minutes against a French team you have up to half time to try and get yourself in the game.
"We didn't do that. We gave up two soft scores before half-time and from there we didn't manage to touch the scoreboard."
Down 10 points thanks to Paul Williams' try and the boot of Morne Steyn, Keatley had a chance to narrow the gap from range to further steer the momentum in Munster's direction but couldn't nail it.
It was his second miss of the day and, although Rory Scannell had a try ruled out, it was the home side who looked like they had the extra man.
The Top 14 champions were only too happy to ram home their dominance, winning scrum after scrum and adding another Steyn penalty before Sekou Macalou brushed off a series of tackles to put the game to bed.
Hugo Bonneval followed that up with a third try, before Murray pulled one back but the game was gone.
STADE FRANCAIS - H Bonneval (J Plisson 74); J Arias (J Danty 51), W Nayacalevu, J Raisuqe; M Steyn, J Dupuy (J Tomas 71); S Taulafo (H Van der Merwe 53), L Sempere (L Panis 48), P Alo-Emilie (R Slimani 47); H Pyle, P Gabrillagues; S Macalou, S Nicolas (J Ross 71), S Parisse (capt).
MUNSTER - A Conway (R O'Mahony 9); K Earls, F Saili, R Scannell, S Zebo; I Keatley (D Hurley 69), C Murray; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, BJ Botha (J Ryan 11) (M Sagario 58); D Foley, M Chisholm (B Holland 75); R Copeland, T O'Donnell (J O'Donoghue 23-30 HIA, 36), CJ Stander (capt).
Ref - N Owens (Wales)