Virimi Vakatawa joined Teddy Thomas and Juan Imhoff on the Racing 92 scoresheet as the French side beat Munster
Paris (AFP) - Winger Teddy Thomas scored twice as Racing 92 beat Munster 39-22 on Sunday to secure a place in the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup.
Thomas, who was named in France’s Six Nations squad last week, dotted down either side of the break leaving the two-time winners’ hopes of progress hanging by a thread.
Racing are guaranteed a spot in the last eight as they lead Pool 4 on 22 points with title-holders Saracens eight points behind ahead of hosting the French side next Sunday.
Munster are third in the group, three points back of Saracens, and must beat the Ospreys while hoping results elsewhere next weekend go their way.
“In the first half I felt we lacked precision when we got into their finish zone, but in the second half we managed to execute the chances we got and it was a good result in the end with a bonus point,” Racing fly-half Finn Russell told BT Sport.
“Teddy Thomas is on fire. He scored one in the first half and then got us momentum in the second. He’s hitting his peak form right now which is incredible for us as a team.”
JJ Hanrahan kicked three penalties within the opening 18 minutes as the visitors dominated the early proceedings with intense work from their forwards before Teddy Iribaren closed the gap to six points with his first effort two minutes later.
Iribaren’s moment of magic came on the half-hour mark as he threw a 20-metre pass out of the back of his hand to set up Thomas in the corner but the scrum-half missed the conversion.
He made up for that error with a long-distance penalty before Andrew Conway’s try seconds before the half-time whistle.
- Intercept try -
Racing attacked and captain Henry Chavancy attempted to find centre partner Virimi Vakatawa with a pass and an almost certain five-pointer but Conway picked the pass and sprinted in from 80 metres as the Irish side led 16-11 at the interval.
Hanrahan added his fourth penalty goal either side of two further Iribaren kicks at goal and the Irish province led 19-17 with 25 minutes to play.
Iribaren, who missed out on selection in France’s Six Nations squad last week, claimed a 20-19 lead with another three-pointer.
After pressure on the Racing line the visitors were awarded a penalty and Hanrahan slotted the kick from in front of the posts for a 22-20 lead to set up a tense final quarter of an hour.
Thomas claimed his second try of the match, and his 12th of the season, as he touched down with one hand inches from the dead-ball line after a lovely Russell cross-kick.
Maxime Machenaud, on for Iribaren, missed the conversion and the hosts led 25-22 with seven minutes remaining.
Vakatawa, who was also named in Les Bleus’ squad for the Six Nations, and Juan Imhoff made sure of the last-eight spot with tries apiece.
Earlier, in Pool 1 Northampton Saints kept their slim hopes of reaching the last eight alive with a 33-20 victory over Treviso and four-time winners Leinster, who have already qualified, hammered Lyon 42-14 in Dublin.
On Saturday, Toulouse, Clermont and Exeter Chiefs clinched spots in the knockout stage while Ulster, Gloucester, Glasgow and Saracens can still reach the next round depending on their results next weekend.