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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Murray and Nakawara look key to Bordeaux battle

Another close contest likely between Racing and Munster

Munster scrum-half Conor Murray in the thick of the action against Racing 92
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European Champions Cup semi-final
BT Sport 3, 3.15pm

Munster, appearing in a record 13th European semi-final, take on Racing 92 of Paris for the fifth time in two seasons as they look to reach a first final since 2006.

These sides have been drawn in the same pool for two seasons in a row. The Irish outfit won both meetings last season on an emotionally-charged run following the death of coach Anthony Foley, but in this campaign the meetings have been close and hard fought.

Munster edged their home match 14-7 - it was scoreless at half-time - while a high-octane match in Paris ended 34-30 to the hosts.

Racing, who were beaten by Saracens in the 2016 final, are rated three-point underdogs and everything points to another close battle in Bordeaux.

The Parisian outfit lie third in the Top 14 and came through the quarter-finals with victory at last year's beaten finalists Clermont. Unlike many French sides, their fitness is good and with a bench that includes fly-half Dan Carter they can turn the screw late in games. They were trailing 14-13 at the break at Clermont but triumphed 28-17.

Munster are a team built on heart and pride and will work tirelessly and this could go down to the wire so the best betting approach may be to focus on two players who so often reward their backers with a try.

Racing boast speedsters Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa and Marc Andreu in their backline but the player who so often gets the fans on their feet is lock Leone Nakarawa. The towering Fijian is famed for his strong runs and offloads and is often in the thick of the action close to the line.

Munster scrum-half Conor Murray is another player who is always on the lookout for an opening. The Irish side may well look to their forwards to drive the ball against this expansive Racing team and Murray, who scored in a pool match against the Parisians this season, in the quarter-final win over Toulon and last week against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, can apply the finishing touches.

Given the expectation of a tight game and the pace and flair in both backlines, both men are available at decent prices to get on the scoresheet.

L Nakawara to score a try
1pt 5-1 Betfair
C Murray to score a try
1pt 11-2 bet365

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Racing's fitness is good and with a bench that includes fly-half Dan Carter they can turn the screw late in games
E.W. Terms
Sky bet