Joey Carbery's kicking woes cost Munster as Castres come out on top in fiery French clash
Castres 13 Munster 12
Progress was slow on the final approaches to Castres this afternoon.
From lunchtime the protestors, clad in their yellow bibs, had mobilised and taken up positions on roundabouts leading into town. 'Trop C’est Trop' read one of their banners as they sought to soften the cough of any commercial vehicle going about its business. Given the apparent absence of anything bigger than a family people-carrier, the message had got through: enough was enough.
We wondered if that would apply to the town’s rugby team at the end of a miserably wet night in this part of world. Munster arrived as pool leaders and knew that whatever happened they would still be in pole position by the end of it – but the margin would be everything. And it wasn’t what they wanted.
Certainly the home team played like they a team who had been subjected to all sorts of ridicule and this was where it stopped. That this wasn’t the case was neither here not there. They climbed into it. It was like a throwback to the old days when these clubs were developing a ferocious rivalry in the early history of the Heineken Cup: fast and furious rugby that always threatened to spill over.
Certainly there will be homework for the citing commissioner afterwards. Munster claimed, with justification, eye gouging on Chris Cloete in the build-up to Castres’ try for loosehead Paea Fa’anunu. As the teams were running off at the break, Sammy Arnold was also remonstrating with referee Wayne Barnes over something that happened on the last play of the period when Munster had passed up three points in search of the lead.
Instead they turned the ball over and went in 10-6 down. The good news had been the three scrum penalties that came their way, an advantage that looked like it would be crucial. The bad news was their struggle to control ball at the breakdown, where it was hot and heavy. And how the crowd loved it.
Even when Castres fell behind inside three minutes to a fine Joey Carbery penalty, given away by the indisciplined Rory Kockott who would be binned just before the break. The left boot of Benjamin Urdapilleta had edged them ahead earlier with a penalty on top of converting Firmin’s try, while Carbery had kicked two from three.
For the second half, Castres changed at hooker and tight head in the hope of changing the picture for Wayne Barnes. It didn’t work. On their first put-in of the new half Munster buckled them, only for Carbery to pull the kick wide from 40 metres. From another penalty two minutes later, Munster went to touch and lost badly on the Castres 22. Then with a third penalty – as Kockott came back on the field – they went to touch, attacked in-field and won a fourth – which Carbery nailed with the locals giving him loads – which of course is as it should be.
So on 52 minutes, the gap was down to a point but when Niall Scannell was binned on 56 minutes for dropping a maul – Barnes didn’t hang around – Urdapilleta put three points on the Castres score. Carbery pulled one back on 67 minutes after Andrew Conway had been knocked back for a knock-on – there was a late tackle by Marc-Antoine Rallier earlier in the play on Peter O’Mahony – but he missed the chance to put them ahead a few minutes later.
JJ Hanrahan appeared for Carbery with seven minutes left and Munster getting desperate. By that stage, Carbery had missed three from six and Conor Murray also was wide with a long range effort. That desperation increased when they made a huge turnover only - with Jeremy Loughman and Fineen Wycherley just on the field – they were shunted at the scrum. It all came down to a drive out of defence starting with a penalty by Hanrahan to touch in the Castres half, only for Munster to lose the lineout. It was one more mistake of many, and the final straw. Castres were delighted.
Castres: S Spedding; M Laveau, T Combezou, (R Ebersohn 61); F Vialelle, T Paris; B Urdapilleta, R Kockott (L Radoslavjlevic 61)P Fa’anunu, (A Ticjit ht), K Firmin (M Rallier 65); yc 70), M Clerc (W Houkpatin ht), T Lassalle (C Samson 61), L Jacquet, Y Caballero (K Gimeno 72), M M Babillot
Munster: M Haley; A Conway, S Arnold, R Scannell, K Earls; J Carbery (JJ Hanrahan 73), C Murray; D Kilcoyne (J Loughman 75), N Scannell (yc 55-65), J Ryan (S Archer 64), T Beirne, B Holland (F Wycherley 76), P O’Mahony, CJ Stander, C Cloete (A Botha 55; K O’Byrne 63-67)
Referee: W Barnes (England)