Joey Carbery scored 26 points as Munster beat Gloucester 41-15 at Kingsholm to all but qualify for the European Champions Cup quarter-finals.
In a battle between two sides coached by South Africans, it was again Johann van Graan’s Munster that got the better of Johan Ackermann’s Gloucester.
The result meant that Munster sit top of Pool 2 on 17 points with just one more round-robin game to play. Gloucester, however, sit at the bottom of the pool and will have to hope results go their way for them to stand a chance of climbing into second place after the final round of fixtures.
It was Gloucester, playing in front of their home fans, who took an early lead through a penalty from centre Billy Twelvetrees. The visitors levelled matters through Carbery’s first penalty before the Irish international was found by halfback partner Conor Murray and scampered in for a self-converted try. Carbery then slotted his second penalty as Munster began to take control of the game.
The score stayed at 13-3 for the majority of the half, but in stoppage time, Munster went through a massive 25 phases of attack, and the blue wave eventually broke through when centre Rory Scannell bounced his defender to score and make it 20-3 at the break.
Gloucester were fastest out of the blocks in the second half as they looked to cut Munster’s lead. It took 35 phases of forward carries that finally allowed flyhalf Danny Cipriani to spread the ball wide and see Olly Thornley go in for the host’s first try.
That was to be as good as it got for the home side, despite a consolation try from tighthead prop Fraser Balmain, as Keith Earls stretched Munster’s lead with a try in the corner. Carbery then set up Andrew Conway for the bonus-point try before running in an intercept try from his own half to seal the win.
In Saturday’s fixtures, Leinster and Toulouse will fight it out for top spot in Pool 1, Bath take on Wasps, Racing 92 can secure first place in Pool 4 when they travel to Ulster, the Scarlets host the Leicester Tigers, while Edinburgh and Montpellier will hope for maximum points when they face Toulon and the Newcastle Falcons respectively.
Gloucester 15 Munster 41
Montpellier vs Newcastle Falcons
Leinster vs Toulouse
Bath vs Wasps
Ulster vs Racing 92
Scarlets vs Leicester Tigers
Toulon vs Edinburgh
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