Wednesday 17 January 2018

Munster salvage late bonus

BRENDAN FANNING at the Madejski Stadium

Munster salvaged a bonus point at the death in the Madejski Stadium yesterday to give them a decent start to their campaign in perhaps the toughest Heineken Cup pool.

Centre Sam Tuitupou got the touchdown in the final minute as Munster lost 23-17 to London Irish but it was a mixed day for him, having been sin-binned for a late and dangerous tackle on Paul Hodgson that is likely to see him cited. If it goes wrong Munster will have to take on Toulon on Saturday without both first-choice centres. "We're disappointed to have lost but the great thing about Munster is that we keep fighting to the death," Ronan O'Gara said afterwards. "That bonus point could be vital in the long run."

London Irish coach Toby Booth was keen to focus on the achievement of his own team winning rather than their not winning by as much as they should have.

"I don't want the issue of Munster getting a bonus point clouding what we achieved here," he said. "If you win your games the bonus points don't matter." The Exiles travel to Swansea next weekend to take on the Ospreys, who picked up a losing bonus point in Toulon.

Leinster had it much easier at home to Racing Metro, running up a bonus-point win against the French side, who were making their debut in the competition.

"I think we've been playing good games," said Jamie Heaslip. "But we just haven't been taking our opportunities. Today we did. That was the difference."

Leinster's coach Joe Schmidt has now seen big back-to-back wins for his side. "[Racing] came back from almost 20 points down last week [against Toulouse] and we were conscious we couldn't let them back into the game," he said.

The shock of the weekend, however, was Connacht losing away to Italian minnows Cavalieri Prato. Out-half Ian Keatley had a chance to rescue the game with a last-minute drop-goal only to see it hit the post.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood said it was a dreadful performance. "We did not do the basic things well and never closed out the game. We left them with a chance and, fair play to them, they took it," he said.

See Pages 2-5

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