|Munster (16) 31|
|Tries: Earls 2, Coombes 2 Con: Carbery Pens: Carbery 2, Hanrahan|
|Toulouse (9) 40|
|Tries: Lebel, Marchand, Dupont 2 Cons: Ntamack 4 Pens: Ntamack 4|
Munster bowed out of the Champions Cup as they fell to an excellent second-half Toulouse display in Limerick.
Two Keith Earls tries helped Munster to a seven-point half-time lead, with Romain Ntamack’s boot keeping Toulouse in touch.
Gavin Coombes crossed twice after the break but Matthis Lebel, Julien Marchand and Antoine Dupont (twice) sent the four-time winners through.
Toulouse will meet Clermont Auvergne in next week’s quarter-final.
Munster’s first-half momentum fades
In a thoroughly entertaining contest at a sunny Thomond Park, Munster responded brilliantly to Chris Farrell’s third-minute sin-binning to restrict their opponents to just three points before getting control of the contest.
A Damian de Allende break and fend saw the centre feed in-form wing Earls, who still had plenty of work to do before touching down for the opening try.
Just like Munster, Toulouse looked dangerous with every attack, with France fly-half Ntamack plucking the ball out of the sky on halfway and weaving to within inches of the line to force another Munster penalty.
Springbok De Allende was instrumental in Munster’s dynamic offensive display, and it was the World Cup winner who stepped into a gap to bring his side deep into the 22, and after the hosts recycled Conor Murray floated a long pass out to Earls for a simple finishes.
A late Joey Carbery penalty concluded an end-to-end fist half with Munster good value for their seven-point advantage.
However within three minutes of the restart the scores were level as a deft Ntamack kick over the top was gathered and finished by the destructive Lebel.
Both sides continued to look full of ideas and confidence when in possession, and academy graduate Coombes was the next to step up with an impressive display of power to turn a static tap-and-go into a try.
France hooker Marchand responded in typically direct fashion just five minutes later, and then the decisive score came 12 minutes from time as Lebel created an opening with a stunning step to send in Dupont, running one of his trademark support lines.
Only when France superstar Dupont scored his second try three minutes from time were Toulouse assured of their win, illustrated by the fact Coombes’ injury-time score made no difference to the ultimate result.
Munster: Haley; Conway, Farrell, de Allende, Earls; Carbery, Murray; Kilcoyne, Scannell, Archer, Kleyn, Beirne; Coombes, O’Donoghue, Stander (capt).
Replacements: O’Byrne, Cronin, Ryan, Holland, F Wycherley, Casey, Hanrahan, Cloete.
Sin bin: Farrell (3)
Toulouse: Medard; Kolbe, Holmes, Ahki, Lebel; Ntamack, Dupont; Baille, Marchand, Faumuina, Ro Arnold, Ri Arnold; Cros, Tolofua, Kaino.
Replacements: Mauvaka, Castets, Aldegheri, Tekori, Flament, Placines, Germain, Delibes.