European Rugby Champions Cup: Munster 48-3 Castres

Keith Earls takes to the air as he goes goes over for a Munster try in the final pool game against Castres in Limerick
Keith Earls scored Munster's first try in the final pool game against Castres in Limerick
European Champions Cup Pool Four
Munster (13) 48
Tries: Earls, Marshall, Penalty, Zebo, Wootton, J Cronin Pens: Keatley 2 Cons: Keatley 4, Hanrahan 2
Castres (3) 3
Pen: Kockott

Munster secured a home Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulon as an impressive bonus-point victory over Castres meant they topped Pool Four.

The hosts pulled clear after a tight opening at Thomond Park, and Keith Earls went over for a try to help Munster to a 13-3 lead at the interval.

Rhys Marshall went over before Munster were awarded a penalty try in a one-sided second half.

Simon Zebo, Alex Wootton and James Cronin added further tries.

The game was put back three hours following heavy rain, but the surface held up well as Munster qualified for a record 17th Champions Cup quarter-final.

Castres scored the first points of the game - a Rory Kockott penalty - but failed to add to their tally.

Two penalties from Ian Keatley saw Munster go in front before the hosts capitalised on Thomas Combezou's yellow card when Earls went in at the corner for a converted try.

A 10-point gap at half-time was soon increased as Marshall touched down from a rolling maul, and replacement prop Daniel Kotze became the second Castres player to be shown a yellow card.

Munster centre Chris Farrell is tackled by Yannick Caballero in the victory over Castres on Sunday
Munster centre Chris Farrell is tackled by Yannick Caballero in the victory over Castres

Good scrummaging by Munster led to the penalty try and Ireland wing Zebo sprinted through from an Earls pass to clinch the bonus point.

Wootton muscled over for the fifth try and Cronin completed the try scoring from a rolling maul in the final seconds.

Keatley nailed four conversions to go with his two penalties while JJ Hanrahan added the extras from the final two tries.

Two-time winners Munster finished as third seeds and their reward is a meeting with Toulon, who are chasing a fourth title.

Munster: Zebo, Conway, Farrell, R. Scannell, Earls, Keatley, Murray, Kilcoyne, Marshall, Archer, Kleyn, B. Holland, P. O'Mahony, Cloete, Stander.

Replacements: Hanrahan for Earls (63), D. O'Shea for Keatley (65), Williams for Murray (69), N. Scannell for Marshall (49), Ryan for Archer (43), Wootton for B. Holland (61). Not Used: Cronin, O'Donoghue.

Castres: Palis, Jaminet, Combezou, Ebersohn, Smith, Dumora, Kockott, Tichit, Jenneker, Tussac, Bias, Lassale, Caballero, Mafi, Tulou.

Replacements: Le Bourhis for Palis (61), A. Taumoepeau for Combezou (61), Domenech for Kockott (71), Firmin for Jenneker (46), Kotze for Tussac (54), Stroe for Lassale (46). Not Used: Moreaux, Delaporte.

Sin Bin: Combezou (32), Kotze (56).

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