Munster edge Saracens in Rugby Champions Cup

Munster scored the only try of the match when they beat Premiership Rugby club Saracens 14-3 in their European Rugby Champions Cup match on Friday.

Munster took advantage of having an extra man while Saracens prop Rhys Gill was in the sin bin to edge ahead of the English side.

The Pool 1 contest was evenly-contested until Saracens’s replacement prop Rhys
Gill was sin-binned for an illegal clear-out on Munster back-rower Peter O’Mahony.

While the Wales international was off David Kilcoyne scored the crucial try
for Munster from a powerful rolling maul. Fly-half Ian Keatley added a drop
goal, and two penalties for the hosts, with Owen Farrell kicking the visitors’
only points.

Both sides had won their opening games and it was a predictably feisty opening
quarter which ended scoreless despite making for absorbing viewing. It was Keatley,
who had earlier struck the post, who struck the opening blow, landing a straightforward
penalty after a purposeful forward drive from the Irish province had put Saracens
on the back foot.

Farrell, making just his second start of the season, was also off the target
first up before making amends when Richard Barrington had won a scrum penalty
for the English side. Keatley should have given Munster a half-time lead but
he failed to land a straightforward penalty attempt at the end of a brutally
physical first-half.

There remained little to choose between the sides at the start of the second
half, although Keatley did restore Munster’s lead with his second successful
penalty of the night. But the game turned decisively when Gill was sin-binned
in the 51st minute after lifting O’Mahony onto his head at a ruck.

Munster piled the pressure on and they thought outstanding scrum-half Conor
Murray had put wing Andrew Conway over in the corner, only for the video referee
to decide he had been brought down short of the line.
It proved a brief respite for Saracens as a controlled rolling maul from the
Irish province resulted in Kilcoyne burrowing his way over.

An error from Alex Goode, while fielding Keatley’s kick to the corner, then
gave Munster field position once again and, as you would expect from two-time
European champions, the error was punished. The hosts went through phase after
phase of possession before Keatley, the last-gasp hero at Sale last weekend,
chipped over a drop goal as Munster went top of the group and denied the visitors
a losing bonus point.

Final Score Munster (3) 14 Saracens (3) 3


Tries – Kilcoyne
Pen – Keatley 2
Con –
Drop – Keatley
Cards –

Tries –
Pen – Farrell
Con –
Drop –
Cards – R. Gill (yellow)


Munster: Jones, Conway, Smith, Hurley, Zebo, Keatley, Murray; Cronin, Casey, Botha, Foley, O’Connell, O’Mahony (capt), O’Donnell, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Guinazu, Kilcoyne, Archer, Holland, Copeland, Williams, Hanrahan, Van den Heever

Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Bosch, Brad Barritt (capt), Strettle, Farrell, De Kock; Barrington, George, Du Plessis, Kruis, Hamilton, Brown, Fraser, Vunipola.

Replacements: Spurling, Gill, Johnston, Botha, Wray, Wigglesworth, Hodgson, Taylor.

With thanks to EPCugby.

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