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European wrap: Magical Munster blitz through as Ulster get knocked out

Charlie Peat
21 January 2018

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There were contrasting fortunes on an enthralling final day of pool fixtures in the European Champions Cup.

Munster showed their credentials as a serious title contender as they swept past Castres but there was to be no joy for Ulster as Les Kiss’ men were undone at Wasps.

Here’s how all the drama unfolded in Ireland and over in England.

Munster 48-3 Castres

Torrential rain looked set to postpone the contest but after a delay of three hours, Munster fans were served up a treat at Thomond Park.

Following tight opening exchanges, Keith Earls settled the nerves with a fine try which helped Johann van Graan’s side into a commanding 13-3 lead at the interval.

Racing 92’s hard-fought victory over Leicester Tigers earlier in the day meant Munster needed a victory to be sure of a home quarter-final.

And the Irish province really turned on the style in the second period, which saw Rhys Marshall go over before a penalty try was awarded.

Simon Zebo, Alex Wootton and James Cronin then put the icing on the cake as Munster finished the pool in first place.

Having seen rivals Leinster lay down a marker on Saturday, Munster will be delighted with their response and will feel they are worthy challengers to hoist the Champions Cup for the first time since 2008.

Munster will now entertain a fearsome Toulon outfit in the last eight and will no doubt be a serious test of their title credentials.

Wasps 26-7 Ulster

Where there was joy for Munster, there was heartbreak for Ulster as they fell to a 26-7 defeat at the hands of Wasps.

The English side needed a bonus-point victory and results to go their way to progress with Ulster looking to avoid defeat to qualify for the last eight.

The Ulstermen may have entered the showdown as pool leaders but they were soon undone as first Guy Thompson and then Tom Cruse went over at the Ricoh.

In between Sean Reidy gave Ulster some hope as he sniped over but the visitors couldn’t hold back their opponents in the second half.

First Willie Le Roux found space to cross the whitewash before Jake Cooper-Woolley brought up the bonus point with his score.

Ulster will be frustrated to see a magnificent opportunity to progress to the last eight slip through their grasp.

Les Kiss was hoping to steer Ulster into the knockout stages of the Champions Cup for the first time since 2014.

But defeats in La Rochelle and Wasps put paid to those hopes as Ulster will now be fully focussed on the Guinness PRO14 for the remainder of the season.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

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