Munster held to draw by newcomers Bayonne

Conor Murray reacts during the Investec Champions Cup clash between Munster and Bayonne at Thomond Park. Photo: Brendan Moran.

MUNSTER supporters, who made up the overwhelming majority of the 19,000 attendance at Thomond Park, were stunned into silence as outsiders Bayonne snatched a 17-17 draw in the Champions Cup opener.

Opening quarter tries from debutant Shay McCarthy (21) – a 2018 Munster Schools Senior Cup winner with St Munchin’s College – and Gavin Coombes, both of which were converted by Jack Crowley, established the home side a firm grip on the fixture.

Munster were 14-3 ahead at the interval, after the visitors had landed the opening score through an early Maxime Machenaud penalty.

Bayonne created several good chances and they reduced the margin not long after the restart when Fijian Luke Tagi scored, with Machenaud converting to make it 14-10.

Crowley soon after landed a penalty and the score remained unaltered until the closing minutes before Bayonne nipped in for their second try close to the finish with Rémy Baget and Thomas Dolhagaray landed the difficult conversion from the left to tie matters.

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Crowley’s very late attempt at a drop-goal winner was narrowly off-target.

Seán O’Brien departed for a HIA and will be assessed by the medical department in the coming days.

Next Sunday, Munster are at Exeter Chiefs, a side who were shock weekend winners at holders Toulon.

Munster: Calvin Nash; Shay McCarthy, Alex Nankivell, Rory Scannell (Tony Butler, 68), Seán O’Brien (Ben O’Connor, 18); Jack Crowley, Conor Murray (Craig Casey, 51); Jeremy Loughman (J Wycherley, 60), Scott Buckley (Eoghan Clarke, 73), John Ryan (Stephen Archer, 51); Fineen Wycherley, Tadhg Beirne (captain); Tom Ahern, John Hodnett (Jack O’Donoghue, 73), Gavin Coombes (Alex Kendellen, 55).