After a tense first half saw Munster take a narrow 6-0 lead into the break, the dynamic of this contest changed completely following the restart as Rory Scannell struck for the opening try just three minutes after the break. JJ Hanrahan’s conversion and a penalty soon after sent Munster into more comfortable territory but from the moment of Scannell’s score, Castres never looked like getting a foothold in the game.
Munster march unbeaten into the second half of the Heineken Champions Cup pool stages with a three-point lead over Gloucester after three games but a run-in of two testing away games in rounds four and five. Trips to Castres next Saturday and Gloucester in January will ask plenty of questions of this team as they bid to reach the quarter-finals but so far, so good, Munster are coming nicely to the boil.
A late replacement in the starting XV after replacing the injured Joey Carbery at fly-half, JJ Hanrahan filled the breach for Munster with a composed and unruffled man of the match performance. He scored 20 of his side’s 30 points with a try, two penalties and three conversions to guide the province to a convincing victory over Castres at Thomond Park.
JP Doyle sin-binned Andrew Conway in the dying minutes after the Munster wing tackled his man before he received the ball, and few could complain about the decision. Castres also tested his patience, both at scrum time and on the offside line while the referee also had to deal with an increasing amount of niggle between the two sides.
Munster 8 Castres 13.
Munster were forced into two backline changes before kick-off after fly-half Joey Carbery suffered a hamstring injury in training on Thursday, while fellow Ireland international Chris Farrell pulled up during the pre-game warm-up with a thigh issue. Both players will be assessed tomorrow morning. Chris Cloete did not return to the field after being withdrawn for a Head Injury Assessment.
There’s a six-day turnaround and a trip to southern France to contend with this week as Munster gear up for the return game with Castres at Stade Pierre Fabre this Saturday in round four.