European Champions Cup: Munster defeat Castres to move top
|Heineken Champions Cup Pool Two|
|Munster (6) 30|
|Tries: R Scannell, Stander, Hanrahan Cons: Hanrahan 3 Pens: Hanrahan 3|
|Castres (0) 5|
Munster returned to the top of Champions Cup Pool Two thanks to a comfortable 30-5 victory over Castres in a scrappy encounter at Thomond Park.
JJ Hanrahan's two penalties gave the hosts a 6-0 lead at the break but it was scant reward for their dominance.
The tries finally arrived in the second half with Rory Scannell, CJ Stander and Hanrahan going over.
Martin Laveau scored a late consolation try for Castres as Munster moved three points clear at the summit.
Gloucester had temporarily replaced Munster at the top by beating Exeter Chiefs 27-9 on Saturday.
Munster were forced into two late chances with fly-half Joey Carbery (hamstring) and centre Chris Farrell (quad) replaced by Hanrahan and Sam Arnold.
|Champions Cup Pool Two|
The Irish side enjoyed 75% possession in the first half in a sunny Limerick, and Castres failed to make a single visit to the Munster 22.
Munster won the scrum battle and were superior at the breakdown but struggled at the line-out and were guilty of errors as they went in search of a deserved try.
Hanrahan split the posts with penalties on six minutes and again 14 minutes later to leave Munster with a slender advantage at half-time.
The game remained disjointed in the second half but Munster were more clinical, with Conor Murray's lay-off putting Scannell through to dart over on for a converted try on 43 minutes.
Castres squandered their first serious opportunity for a try before Hanrahan stretched Munster's lead with his third penalty.
Murray was again the creator for Munster's second try in the 68th minute with a classy offload allowing Stander to scamper over.
Hanrahan converted and he did so again when he completed a fine passing move by running in the third try with five minutes left.
Munster were now chasing the bonus point but it was Castres who got on the scoreboard with the final move of the game.
Andrew Conway was yellow-carded for hauling back Taylor Paris off the ball as the Castres wing was set to accept a pass which would have sent him clear to the line.
Munster escaped a penalty try but Castres kept the pressure on and Laveau sprinted in at the corner in the 82nd minute.
Ben Urdapilleta, who missed a penalty earlier in the second half, was off target with the conversion.
Munster: Haley; Conway, Arnold, Scannell, Earls; Hanrahan, Murray; Kilcoyne, Scannell, Ryan; Beirne, Holland; O'Mahony (C), Cloete, Stander.
Replacements: Mathewson for Murray (69), Loughman for Kilcoyne (73), Parker for Ryan (76), Wycherley for Holland (69), Botha for Cloete (65). Not Used: O'Byrne, Hanrahan, Arnold.
Sin Bin: Conway (79).
Castres: Spedding; Batlle, Combezou, Vialelle, Paris; Urdapilleta, Radosavljevic; Tichit, Jenneker, Kotze, Jacquet, Lassalle, Babillot, Gimeno, Tulou.
Replacemens:Laveau for Batlle (59), Kockott for Radosavljevic (69), Fa'anunu for Tichit (45),Firmin for Jenneker (45), Clerc for Kotze (45), Samson for Jacquet (63), Caballero for Gimeno (41), Caminati for Tulou (69).
Ref: JP Doyle (England).