Heineken Champions Cup: Munster send Wasps out of competition with 45-7 win

Munster celebrate Simon Zebo's try
Simon Zebo was a late addition to Munster’s starting side, replacing Keith Earls
Munster (24) 45
Tries: Murray, Zebo 2, O’Donoghue, Loughman, Scannell Cons: Healy 4, Crowley 2 Pen: Healy
Wasps (7) 7
Try: Robson Con: Atkinson

Wasps missed out on a place in the knockout stage of the Champions Cup as their 45-7 defeat by Munster saw Stade Francais claim eighth place in Pool B.

The English Premiership side needed at least a losing bonus point and losing margin of less than 19 to leapfrog Stade in the table.

However Munster, who climbed to third place, dominated the contest in Limerick with six tries to Wasps’ one.

They will play the team that finishes sixth in Pool A in the last 16.

It was a fourth straight win in the competition for the province, who saw Simon Zebo become their record European try-scorer when he crossed for the first of his two, having only been drafted into the starting line-up on late notice after Keith Earls withdrew with a side strain.

After a win over reigning champions Toulouse last week reignited their last 16 ambitions, injury-hit Wasps were forced into eight changes for the trip to Thomond Park and struggled to unlock Munster’s impressive defence.

The contest was marred by a head injury sustained by Thomas Young late in the first half, with the flanker taken off on a stretcher and transported to hospital.

Impressive Munster an improved attacking force

The manner of Munster’s win will have pleased their fans – who returned to Thomond Park in force after the Irish government lifted crowd restrictions on Friday – after recent performances attracted criticism for a lack of attacking flair.

The hosts were accurate and inventive with ball in hand, sending Conor Murray between the posts for the opener before Zebo collected Ben Healy’s kick over the top and touched down to move beyond the late Anthony Foley as Munster’s leading European try-scorer.

Zebo was one of two late changes to Munster’s starting side, with Dave Kilcoyne denied a 200th appearance due to illness and Jeremy Loughman coming in to replace him in the front row.

Wasps enjoyed considerable time in Munster territory in the first half but in pursuit of four tries that would have secured a bonus point they only found one through scrum-half Robson that, although briefly bringing them back into the contest, was not enough to truly threaten Munster’s control of the game.

Man of the match Jack O’Donoghue re-established the hosts’ comfortable lead just before the half hour mark after Gavin Coombes peeled off the back of the scrum with a ferocious carry up to the line, allowing O’Donoghue to pick up and touch down.

Wasps could not capitalise on the 10 minute period in which they enjoyed a man advantage with Coombes in the sin-bin, and upon the back row’s reintroduction found themselves further behind as Loughman barrelled over.

Robson was then sent to the bin for attempting to clear out Conor Murray from the side as Wasps’ challenge fizzled out with little resistance, as Zebo and Rory Scannell exploited a tired visiting defence late on to extend Munster’s lead.

Munster: Haley; Conway, Farrell, Scannell, Zebo; Healy, Murray; Loughman, Barron, Archer; Kleyn, Beirne; O’Mahony (capt), O’Donoghue, Coombes.

Replacements: Buckley, J Wycherley, Ryan, F Wycherley, Hodnett, Casey, Crowley, Kendellen.

Wasps: Crossdale; Watson, Odogwu, Mills, Bassett; Atkinson, Robson; West, Cruse, Millar-Mills; Stooke, Gaskell; Shields (capt), Young, Carr.

Replacements: Oghre, Martinez, Scholtz, Cardall, Morris, Porter, Miller, Spink


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