Champions Cup: Penalty shootout drama as Toulouse beat Munster in Dublin

·2-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Toulouse kept their dreams of retaining the Champions Cup title alive after defeating Munster on a place-kicking competition in an incredible quarter-final.

The match finished level at 24-24 and, after there was no score in extra-time, Toulouse won the penalty shootout 4-2.

It was a hugely exciting clash throughout and Alex Kendellen got the ball rolling by touching down early on.

Les Rouge et Noir responded and went 14-7 ahead thanks to tries from Romain Ntamack and Matthis Lebel, but 17 unanswered points appeared to put the Irishmen in the ascendency.

Keith Earls and Mike Haley crossed the whitewash either side of the break to move Munster back in front before Joey Carbery added a penalty.

Toulouse refused to back down, however, and after Lebel had reduced the arrears, Thomas Ramos’ three-pointer sent the contest into extra-time.

Ben Healy did have two kicks to win it for the hosts, one off the tee and another with a drop-goal, but they both missed as the match was settled by penalties, echoing the dramatic 2009 semi-final between Leicester Tigers and Cardiff.

Toulouse were the team that kept their composure, with Antoine Dupont, Ntamack and Thomas Ramos kicking all their efforts while Healy (twice) and Conor Murray missed.

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A typically helter-skelter start saw Munster strike first in the ninth minute, 21-year-old flanker Kendellen bouncing off Dorian Aldegheri to ground the ball.

Firing back quickly, Ntamack seized the ball at the second attempt to score to the right of the posts. Only some excellent maul defence prevented Toulouse from driving through for a second score.

Nonetheless, with Toulouse’s piledriving scrum forcing penalties, Ntamack’s loop play set up a 25th-minute run-in for winger Lebel. Ramos converted again for a 14-7 lead.

With the interval within reach, Chris Farrell flicked a pass back for Carbery to loft it wide and Earls finished. Having missed an earlier penalty, Carbery nailed the difficult conversion.

Despite a second penalty miss from Carbery, Simon Zebo’s aerial brilliance was matched by a break from Farrell. He sent full-back Haley over for a well-taken converted try.

Toulouse lock Rory Arnold was then binned for a dangerous dump tackle on Zebo, before Carbery used a subsequent penalty to make it 24-14 in the 57th minute.

Despite superb turnovers from O’Mahony and Munster replacement Jason Jenkins, Lebel scampered through from 40 metres out thanks to replacement Peato Mauvaka’s inviting inside pass.

Ramos converted and Munster’s lead was erased soon after, as a scrum penalty delivered three more points. Extra-time was evenly balanced, but Champions Cup heartbreak awaited Munster in the shootout.

READ MORE: Challenge Cup: Wasps edge past Edinburgh in quarter-final thriller

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