Foley fumes as Munster humbled by Stade Francais
The home side went down to 14 men, but still looked the far superior team.19:27 Saturday 9 January 2016, 19:27 9 Jan 2016
A gritty win over Ulster last week may have had Munster fans feeling that the worm had turned as they looked to regain some momentum, but Anthony Foley's side were stopped in their tracks on Saturday evening by Stade Francais.
The first half remained scoreless for much of the game, but it was Munster that should have taken the lead through an Ian Keatley penalty. While there was a breeze out on the pitch, and the angle wasn't the easiest possible, the resulting miss seemed to play on his mind and affect him for the remainder of the game.
While he was man of the match just a week ago in his side's win over Ulster, he put in another performance that will only serve to increase the pressure on him as he missed a kick right before the break that could have changed the mood in the dressing room during half time, and made simple errors from the restart.
They went in 10-0 down after a break from Paul Williams saw him fly through the Munster defence and touch down a try with 34 minutes on the clock. Morné Steyn slotted over the conversion, and a few minutes later added a penalty to widen the gap.
In truth, the home side were good value for their lead, and aside from a brief period where Munster got some territory, they were unable to put anything together that looked like threatening Stade's defence. To make things even worse, Tommy O'Donnell had to leave the pitch twice, once to get medical attention and the second time when it became clear he would be unable to continue.
A big decision from Nigel Owens to send off Josaia Raisuqe right before half time could have seen them turn things around, however. He was adjudged to have put his fingers in the eye of CJ Stander, and after consulting with the TMO, Owens produced a red.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
With a man advantage and a penalty to be kicked right before the half, it could all have been so different as they went to the tunnel, but Keatley missed again and failed to make the advantage count.
When they returned after the break, it would have been fair to expect them to start making their advantage tell on their opponents, but bar a try from Rory Scannell that was ruled out for a forward pass from Francis Saili, Munster never threatened until it was far too late.
They were dominated by the home side in the scrum, giving away penalties, and failed to win their own lineout ball on a number of occasions. Steyn added to his side's advantage with a penalty in the 54th minute, but the standout moment of the game came from Sekou Macalou.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
He broke through the weak tackles of a tired-looking Munster defence to score a super try, handing off a number of attempts to bring him down before diving over the line to finish in style in the 67th minute.
Foley's team looked to have thrown in the towel by that stage, and they were torn open just a few minutes later by another big run from Hugo Bonneval. This time, there looked to be even less effort to bring him down, and despite a big difference in size he was able to hold off the challenges of a defeated and exhausted Munster.
A late try from Conor Murray meant little in the end, as they slumped to a 27-7 loss, which could have been even worse as Stade went in search of a bonus point in the final minutes after the clock had ticked into the red.
In the wake of the loss, Foley was in no mood to field questions, as he was asked by a Sky Sports reporter to detail what he thinks need to be changed to help his side return to winning ways.
"I'm not going to answer that to you in front of a camera, am I. We need to dig deep ourselves and come up with our own answers".
Looking ahead to the visit of Stade Francais to Thomond, he added that, while his side hold no realistic hope of progressing, "we need to turn up next week for our supporters in Thomond Park and show what we are. We need to show our character, show what we are and who we represent".
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