Sport Champions Cup

Tuesday 25 April 2017

'We're playing for someone special upstairs' - Simon Zebo pays tribute to Anthony Foley as he reaches 50 Munster tries

Simon Zebo of Munster following the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 1 Round 1 match between Racing 92 and Munster at the Stade Yves-Du-Manoir in Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Simon Zebo of Munster following the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 1 Round 1 match between Racing 92 and Munster at the Stade Yves-Du-Manoir in Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Simon Zebo's 50th provincial try sent Munster on their way to a barnstorming 32-7 Champions Cup bonus point win over rudderless Racing 92 at Stade Yves-du-Manoir.

Rassie Erasmus' men moved back to the top of Pool 1, three points clear of Glasgow Warriors, whom they visit next Saturday, before the return leg against Racing in Limerick seven days later.

Zebo, CJ Stander and Andrew Conway all touched down to establish a 25-0 interval lead in cold and wet conditions, as the dominant Munster pack continually pummeled holes in the Racing defence.

Hooker Niall Scannell - part of an excellent Munster set-piece game - crashed over via a 56th-minute maul to seal the bonus point, with Tyler Bleyendaal topping up his tally to 12 points. The reigning French champions, already out of the running with no pool points and lying eighth in the Top 14 table, had a breakaway seven-pointer from flanker Matthieu Voisin as their only consolation.

This round one fixture was postponed back in October following the sudden death of Munster head coach Anthony Foley at the team hotel. The players have reacted in a fitting way, winning nine out of 10 competitive games since leaving Paris on that unforgettably sad day.

Speaking about his achievement and the occasion today, Simon Zebo told Sky Sports: "There is a lot of emotion gone into this fixture. We've got a bit of momentum and we're playing for someone special upstairs. Hopefully it continues.

"It's a nice milestone to achieve but obviously I wouldn't be able to do it without my teammates behind me."

Skipper Peter O'Mahony was clearly delighted with his side's showing, confirming that the Munster staff had a rendition of 'Stand Up And Fight' in the visiting dressingroom after the game, but called for calm heads ahead of a pool-deciding encounter in Scotstoun next Saturday.

"This is our group's first time playing against an unbelievable team like Racing and to get an away win like that with a bonus point deserves a bit of a song at the end," he said.

"It's an unbelievably tough place to play. Anywhere in France is but especially with  a team as passionate, and with the history, Racing has. I'm very proud of the boys today to get the result.

"There is a lot of work to be done. Especially with the back-to-back-to-back three games on the bounce. It's tough any time but when you have two of them away.

"We'll recover from today and get ready for a seriously good side in Glasgow next week."

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