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french triumph Toulouse storm Thomond Park and hand Munster a Heineken Champions Cup defeat

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Matthis Lebel of Toulouse dives over to score his side's first try despite the tackle of Joey Carbery. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Matthis Lebel of Toulouse dives over to score his side's first try despite the tackle of Joey Carbery. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Matthis Lebel of Toulouse dives over to score his side's first try despite the tackle of Joey Carbery. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Munster head coach Johann van Graan highlighted a missed second-half opportunity as having a major bearing on their 40-33 Heineken Champions Cup last-16 defeat to Toulouse at Thomond Park.

After the French giants levelled at 23-23, Munster pressed for a fourth try with a penalty advantage but Keith Earls’ between-the-legs pass went forward and Andrew Conway missed out on the score.

Replacement JJ Hanrahan did kick the hosts back in front, but Toulouse reeled off a decisive 17 points – including an Antoine Dupont brace – to set up a quarter-final trip to Clermont Auvergne next week.

Van Graan said: “All 23 of our guys gave it their all. It’s very disappointing to lose an incredible game of rugby. I am incredibly proud of the lads today.

“We went for the try, on the forward pass. I think it was from Keith to Andrew and we got three points. Hopefully we would have got seven there.

“I think that was a big swing there because there were a lot of seven-pointers. But give credit where credit is due. Well done to Toulouse.”

Munster led 16-9 at half-time thanks to an Earls try double that owed much to the build-up play of the impressive Damian de Allende.

Van Graan acknowledged his side should have got the Springbok centre more involved in the second half.

“I thought Damian had a very good game,” he added. “I’ll have to go and look at specific things but I thought he had an excellent game.

“I thought he really showed his worth today. He found a bit of space in the first half and the game had so many swings and roundabouts. We’d like to get the ball in his hands as much as we can and we didn’t in the second half.”

Former All Black Jerome Kaino, the two-time World Cup winner who turns 38 on Tuesday, felt Toulouse produced the perfect reaction to last week’s Top 14 defeat to Montpellier.

“We knew the challenge that we were facing and Thomond Park is not an easy place to come and play for any team,” said Kaino.

“We had to look at ourselves really hard after last week’s performance against Montpellier, but (I’m) just proud of the boys.

“How tight we were and how we set a plan, and executed it, but it didn’t come easy. Munster are a class side.”

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