Rugby Union

Munster and Leinster stay on winning track in European Champions Cup

PA Reporter

MUNSTER director of rugby Rassie Erasmus was "happy enough" after his side battled to a 14-7 Champions Cup triumph over Racing 92 at a wet and windy Thomond Park on Saturday.

Two tries in the final quarter - from Ireland and British and Irish Lions scrum-half Conor Murray and replacement Andrew Conway - steered the hosts to their maiden European win of the season.

The French side had defeated Leicester in their opening fixture, while Munster played out a nail-biting draw away to Castres last Sunday.

Erasmus, who is set to leave Munster in the coming months to take up a role with the South African Rugby Union, said Racing had "showed guts" throughout an arm-wrestle of a contest, with a late Leone Nakarawa try earning them a losing bonus point.

"I am happy enough with the result," he said. "It is tough to play a certain way in the game, tough to get the ball wider than your fly-half. You could see with (Dan) Carter playing in their team, they even struggled to get it right.

"Racing would have come here with confidence and we had a little bit of a confidence-dent not winning last week, so it was really a tough game to control tactically.

"It was more who had the most guts out there. It definitely wasn't perfect. I think in the conditions it may have been perfect, but you can't go into this game and analyse anything, because it was just tough to play."

Meanwhile, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen, whose side have now notched two bonus-point wins to go top of Pool 3, was relieved to get over the line after their 34-18 away win over Glasgow Warriors.

"It certainly wasn't easy. We prepped for difficult conditions and the two big moments were when Johnny backed the forwards to go for drives, one of them on the far side and one just before half-time,'' he said.

"We started the second half well but Glasgow are a constant threat, particularly Stuart Hogg at 15 and Tommy Seymour on the right wing, while Finn Russell is a box of tricks as well. We needed to be on our toes all the time.

"Our forwards laid the platform for us and then we are more in control of the game and can play the game in the right areas of the field as a result of those tries."

Glasgow boss Dave Rennie admits some teams may start to target his forwards after slipping to a second defeat on the bounce.

Warriors' hopes of qualifying from a tough pool in the European Champions Cup suffered a big blow with the defeat.

The match followed a similar path to defeat at Exeter last week, where Rennie's side prospered at times but were bullied up front and outwitted by a more experienced side, for whom Cian Healy scored twice and Johnny Sexton claimed 17 points.

A brace of Cian Healy tries subjected Glasgow to another harsh lesson in European rugby.

The hosts enjoyed the majority of possession but in reality were not clinical enough with the ball compared to their Irish opponents, whose powerful forward display proved enough to get the win in an entertaining encounter.

Stuart Hogg played a significant role on his return from a long-term injury, scoring once and setting another up, but could not drag Warriors to victory.

Jonny Sexton, who scored 17 points on the day, opened the scoring with simple penalty before a scrappy interlude in which both sides fell victim to the inclement weather, with handling errors aplenty in the driving Glasgow rain.

After a slow start, Hogg grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck with a searing break down the right wing which saw him beat several defenders with ease, eventually earning a penalty for his side which dragged the hosts back level.

The full-back was then on hand to finish a fine flowing move as Glasgow turned on the style in the 16th minute, Finn Russell looping round the back of Sam Johnson before kicking through for Tommy Seymour who poked the ball on for Hogg to dot down and open up a 10-3 advantage.

A poor clearance from Warriors enabled Leinster to fight back with territorial pressure, and after working their way over to the left wing eventually were rewarded eight minutes later as Healy burrowed over against the run of play to bring it back level.

Glasgow continued the pressure in their opponents' 22, but were made to pay for their wastefulness as a powerful rolling maul powered over the line with Healy again touching down for a 17-10 half-time lead.

The hosts came out with a point to prove after the break, but left a gaping hole in their defence for Luke McGrath to gallop through before Sexton was dragged down 10 metres out.

The ball made its way back to the fly-half and after exchanging passes with Scott Fardy he touched down in another clinical Leinster attack.

Seymour gave Glasgow a sniff after scoring in the corner but Noel Reid exposed a weak defence to secure a bonus point for Leo Cullen's men in what was a ruthless performance that effectively ended Glasgow's hopes of escaping the pool.

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