Munster captain Peter O’Mahony believes their losing bonus-point at Clermont could prove crucial when the competition resumes in January.
While he accepted their fate now rests with other results, a late Ian Keatley penalty kept Munster just four points behind the French side and Saracens by three, with Champions Cup trips to the English team and then hosting Sale coming next month.
And that has left the Irish flanker hopeful that qualification for the quarter-finals could still be on the cards.
“We dug in and got a point and you cannot yet tell what is going to happen in terms of qualification,” he told Press Association Sport.
“That point could prove crucial.
“Now we have got two huge games to look forward to in the new year against Saracens and Sale Sharks when we have to fight for our lives.
“We will always pride ourselves on our physicality and we have put ourselves in a position where we can still qualify.
“I am hugely proud of the lads digging in and pulling something out at a hugely difficult place to come and play.
“We ran into a very good side that is playing really well. Last week against them we were guilty of making too many simple errors, whereas this time we let ourselves down with some poor kick-chase in the first half.
“We did our homework on them once again and I think we played a little bit smarter this week. Our half backs were brilliant and we tried to play around them and I thought JJ Hanrahan had a super game.
“But it was a difficult battle, they are a hugely physical side and very good technically at the breakdown.
“We had two good wins at the start of the group campaign and now we can look forward to those two huge return games next month.”