Munster completed their away Pool Four programme with a 30-27 win over Bourgoin in Stade Geneve .
In the end no one could take away from what was a deserved victory for a Munster side who nerve was severely tested but whose nerve held. At 30-20 in front, Munster could have been expected to close out what had been a bruising encounter. Instead they let Matthieu Nicolas in under their posts to leave just three points separating the sides.
Bourgoin came back for more. A wild looped overhead pass from Paul O’Connell on his own 22 was almost intercepted. O’Connell made amends by gathering and getting to his feet until support arrived and then Munster almost gained the bonus when replacement Anthony Foley was held up inches short of the Bourgoin line.
And so it ended, Munster the winners by three points and had you offered them that before the kick off they’d have gladly accepted.
Before this game ever kicked off the questions directed at Munster team and management concerned the game the following week against Leicester. The public perception was that Bougoin after a lively start would roll over and allow Munster tickle their way to a bonus point victory.
That was never the way Declan Kidney viewed this game and he was proved right. Bourgoin showed just three changes from the side that held Biarritz scoreless the previous week and after surviving an early Munster onslaught settled down to play some serious rugby.
Sebastien Laloo gave them the lead with a fifth minute penalty and after Ronan O’Gara had levelled seven minutes later, Bourgoin re-took the lead with a Julien Bonnaire try after O’Gara chip ahead had been run by the French. Laloo’s conversion came back off an upright and that was not to be the only slice of luck Munster enjoyed in the beautiful Stade Geneve.
O’Gara was again on the mark with a 21st minute penalty before a quick line-out created sufficient mayhem in the Bourgoin defence to set up a try for Marcus Horan. The prop forward popped up on the wing and after a sublime David Wallace pass outstripped the Bourgoin winger to slide in at the corner flag. O’Gara somehow managed to squeeze over the conversion from the narrowest of angles to see his side take a 13-8 lead.
Munster looking now to consolidate launched another promising attack and Horan again appeared out wide but this time with totally different consequences. The ball arrived at the same time as a Bourgoin defender who appeared to knock it forward but play continued, Guaillaume Bousses scored under the posts and Laloo’s conversion put the home side back in front (15-13).
Just before the break a threatening Munster rolling maul edged ever closer to the Bourgoin line and with Bourgoin players jumping all over it referee Malcolm Chengleng had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try, binning Brice Monzeglio in the process.
Just after the break O’Gara was wide with a 44th minute penalty and then shortly after, when Munster lost a lineout close to their own line, O’Gara’s clearance was blocked
down and they were fortunate not to concede a try.
That luck didn’t continue. In the 57th minute Bourgoin levelled (20-20) with a score in the right hand corner after Chengleng had once again ‘gone upstairs’
Munster responded with the try of the game when O’Gara’s deft inside pass had Shaun Payne galloping through the centre, and Lifeimi Mafi got himself onto the full-back left shoulder to take the scoring pass.
O’Gara pushed Munster ten clear with a penalty but Bourgoin roared back with a second try for Nicolas to ensure a nervous finale to the game.