Munster made Harlequins pay for a lack of discipline as they ran out 21‑7 winners in difficult conditions in their Champions Cup meeting at Thomond Park.
Playing into a blustery wind, Munster took a 6-0 interval lead thanks to two JJ Hanrahan penalties at either end of the half. Cadan Murley’s 55th-minute try cancelled out a Munster penalty try, but the Quins captain, Alex Dombrandt, then saw yellow for his team’s third trip to the sin-bin. Gavin Coombes duly drove over for a 69th-minute unconverted try – adding to a booming Ben Healy penalty – to seal a deserved victory for Munster.
The Gloucester coach, George Skivington, defended his young players and said they will have learned plenty from their 55‑10 hammering at Lyon.
The Cherry and Whites had nine players out injured and other key figures absent for the trip to France. It left an inexperienced side to take to the field and the result was a record defeat. It was the most points Gloucester have conceded in the top tier of European rugby as the Lyon wing Xavier Mignot crossed for a hat-trick. In total they scored eight tries.
“We’ve got back-to-back games for 20-odd weeks now. We can roll the same boys out week after week, but eventually it’ll catch us out,” Skivington said. “We got the injuries and so thought best to put the young guys out. I thought some of them showed real quality and some showed they had a long way to go. We learn, they learn, we move forward.”
Lyon were far too good for Gloucester with outstanding wing Mignot a standout figure. Noa Nakaitaci, Izack Rodda, Mathieu Bastareaud, Charlie Ngatai and Dylan Cretin also crossed. Gloucester’s only try came from Seb Nagle-Taylor and George Barton improved the effort.
Connacht claimed a losing bonus point as they were defeated 26-22 by Racing 92 in their Champions Cup opener in Paris. Tries from Georges-Henri Colombe, Kurtley Beale, Sébastien Taofifénua and Dominic Bird, along with six points from the boots of Teddy Iribaren and Maxime Machenaud, secured a bonus point victory for last season’s beaten finalists. Matt Healy, Alex Wootton and Conor Oliver scored tries for Connacht while Jack Carty and Tom Daly kicked seven points between them.