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Heineken Cup: Munster secure quarter-final place after beating Racing Metro
Heineken Cup holders Leinster have missed out on a place in the quarter-finals following Munster's 29-6 bonus-point victory over 14-man Racing Metro.
Simon Zebo was the hero with a hat-trick at Thomond Park as Munster booked a mouth-watering quarter-final at Harlequins, while their five-point haul ensured Leinster, who beat Exeter on Saturday, dropped into the Amlin Cup.
Gaeton Germain put Racing 3-0 in front after Antoine Battut was dismissed, but tries from Conor Murray and Zebo put the home side in control, although a second Germain penalty kept them in touch.
Mike Sherry scored a further try before half-time with Zebo's second of the game clinching the vital bonus-point they require to maintain progress in the competition.
Zebo completed his hat-trick in the 54th minute with another piece of expert finishing to clinch the victory and a place in the quarter-finals.
The Top 14 club were up against it from the off when referee Wayne Barnes brandished a red card after spotting Battut aiming a knee towards the head of Tommy O'Donnell at a midfield ruck.
Barnes was in the thick of the action again when Keatley caught him flush in the face with a clearance kick. Munster infringed at the resulting scrum and full-back Germain mopped up with three points.
Space was at a premium despite some incisive running from Zebo and Felix Jones, but Munster's patience was rewarded in the 25th minute. Their forwards were suitably fired up after a short dust-up. A well-orchestrated maul then propelled them forward and scrum-half Murray broke to the left to crash over past two defenders.
Keatley converted and just three minutes later prop David Kilcoyne's rumble through the middle provided the momentum for Munster to put Zebo over in the left corner.
Germain slotted over a second penalty, however, Munster made it three tries in the space of 11 minutes as Peter O'Mahony assisted hooker Sherry over the line on the end of a muscular lineout maul.
Captain Doug Howlett and Keith Earls launched kick chases that almost yielded the desired returns, with Racing scampering back to just deny them.
Eight minutes into the second half, the bonus point was in the bag. Full-back Jones initiated a slick counter attack, passing for Zebo to dink a kick through and collect it on the bounce.
Keatley added the extras for a 24-6 lead and with Munster now bubbling with confidence, Zebo was soon released for the left corner by the increasingly effective Earls.
A yellow card for replacement Masi Matadigo saw Racing finish the game with 13 players, while Munster youngster Paddy Butler also saw yellow in the dying minutes.