herald

Wednesday 19 December 2018

O'Gara's Racing bring Reds to the brink

Munster 14 Racing 92 7

Racing 92 coach Ronan O’Gara on the sideline
Racing 92 coach Ronan O’Gara on the sideline

There are times and places where the battle becomes the occasion more than a torrent of tries ever could.

Thomond Park is one such place.

Munster and Racing 92 played out the best scoreless first half there has ever been in the history of the Champions Cup.

"It was more about 'who's got the most guts out there?' reacted Rassie Erasmus.

The soon-to-be-gone Director of Rugby has done all he can to give new coach Johann van Graan a shot at reaching the play-offs.

"I thought the guys' hearts were really big and the technique was really sound, we were lower than them.

"It could have easily gone against us, but the guys were tight and they were really fighting for the badge and you can't ask for more than that."

Ronan O'Gara had got inside the heads of his Racing players to have them humming in Limerick.

The power, intensity and will-to-win from both sets of men was as compelling as any other multi-layered drama.

"We just didn't mentally break them. It's really hard to break Munster at home," said O'Gara.

The local legend was not inclined to feel worthy of the losing bonus-point from the defeat when it could have been one more.

"You might say I'm a lunatic, but I think we could have easily got a draw," he claimed.

"I know it's not the Munster of old," he stated.

"I think if you stand up to Munster's physicality you've a chance.

"To finish the game strongly shows great character and sometimes that's what adversity is about, character."

Matt O'Connor's Leicester Tigers' mauling of Castres means Munster's old English foes lead Pool Four on points difference with the back-to-back matches still to come in December.

Thereafter, O'Gara will do all he can to make sure Racing, just one point behind, are still in the hunt when Munster travel to Paris in January.

Who said this competition has lost its lustre?

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