European Champions Cup: Munster 26-13 Stade Francais

Munster's Simon Zebo is tackled by Stade Francais's Julien Arias at Thomond Park
Simon Zebo's try a minute into the second half put Munster in firm control against Stade Francais at Thomond Park
European Champions Cup, Pool Four
Munster (12) 26
Tries: Sherry, Earls, Zebo, Stander Cons: Keatley 3
Stade Francais (6) 13
Try: Ross Con: Steyn Pens: Steyn 2

Munster avoided the indignity of a fourth straight European defeat for the first time as they beat Stade Francais in the Champions Cup at Thomond Park.

A superb Keith Earls score just before the break put fired-up Munster 12-6 ahead after an earlier Mike Sherry try.

Further second-half Munster tries from Simon Zebo and CJ Stander were split by a Jono Ross score for Stade.

Munster's knock-out hopes were already over and the result is a huge blow to Stade's chances of qualification.

Pool Four leaders Leicester will be guaranteed a quarter-finals place if they beat Benetton Treviso in Saturday evening's game at Welford Road.

Munster went into the Saturday's game after coming in for trenchant criticism following last weekend's 27-7 defeat by Stade in Paris.

The poor performance in Paris had increased the pressure on coach Anthony Foley and Munster announced on Tuesday that former England assistant Andy Farrell had joined the Irish province in a temporary advisory role.

Foley had demanded a big improvement in performance and while there were still major scrum problems, he largely got the desired response, with the crowd also giving vocal encouragement to the struggling home side.

After Morne Steyn kicked Stade into a first-minute lead, the next half hour was a scrappy, physical battle before hooker Sherry powered over after an impressive driving line-out.

Steyn's 37th-minute penalty appeared to have given Stade a half-time lead but Ireland international Earls charged through a gap on the edge of the 22 to slide over as Keatley's conversion extended Munster's advantage to 12-6.

Keatley's clever chip straight after the restart set up to Zebo to collect and score and Munster stayed in charge, not conceding any score during wing Ronan O'Mahony's sin-binning.

Stade looked back in contention on 63 minutes when Jono Ross pounced on a line-out overthrow to score under the posts.

However, Stander's 68th-minute try, after Murray's quick tap penalty following a Zebo break, ensured Munster's deserved victory after a tough week for Foley and his staff.

View from the dressing-room

Munster coach Anthony Foley: ""The boys played with a lot of pride and character.

"It was obviously disappointing last week over in Paris not to get anything out of the game and to come back here to Thomond Park and pick up five points today says a lot about the boys.

"I thought it was unbelievable support there today given the situation we were in."

Munster: S Zebo; K Earls, F Saili, R Scannell, R O'Mahony; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, M Sagario; D Foley, M Chisholm; B Holland, T O'Donnell, CJ Stander.

Replacements: K O'Byrne, L O'Connor, J Ryan, D Ryan, R Copeland, J O'Donoghue, T O'Leary, L Gonzalez Amorosino.

Stade Francais: H Bonneval; W Nayacalevu, J Danty, P Williams, J Arias, M Steyn, J Dupuy, S Taulafo, L Panis, R Slimani, P Gabrillagues, P Pape, S Macalou, J Ross, S Parisse.

Replacements: Z Zhvania, H van der Merwe, P Alo-Emile, H Pyle, S Nicolas, J Tomas, J Plisson, J Sinzelle.

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