Irish giants Munster bully Saints in their own backyard
MATCH REPORT: Gavin Coombes enjoyed a first half to remember as the Munster No.8 twice crossed the whitewash in a 17-6 win over Northampton Saints at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens in Champions Cup Pool B on Sunday.
Coombs powered over on 14 minutes before adding a second from a well-worked lineout five minutes before the interval. Joey Carbery added seven points with the boot, all in the first half.
Northampton notched two first-half penalties from the boot of Fin Smith, and dominated the entire second half but were unable to break through amid a stunning Munster defensive display.
Munster dominated territory in the early stages of the contest, getting close to the Northampton line on a number of occasions.
They finally broke through with 14 minutes on the clock from a pick and go off a penalty, the ball eventually finding the hands of Coombes who rumbled over from close range.
Smith then notched two penalties, sandwiching a response from Carbery, before Coombes added his second of the afternoon through a well worked lineout – Tadgh Bernie offloading with a push pass to the on-rushing Coombes who rolled around the back of lineout, through the arms of two defenders and across the whitewash.
The second half saw Northampton dominate possession and territory – camped inside the Munster 22 for large parts of the game – but were unable to add their six points from the first half.
Through determination and perseverance, Munster survived a trio of yellow cards as Jack O’Donoghue, Craig Casey and Carbery all spent time in the sin bin, as did Lewis Ludlam for Northampton.
Casey’s yellow card away awarded via TMO when Smith lofted a cross-field ball toward James Ramm and the Northampton wing was tackled by Casey in the air as he looked to dot down in the corner.
Defensively superb, Munster held out the entire second half backed up in their own territory, securing a vital first win of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup season.
The teams will meet in the reverse fixture on Saturday, January 14 in the third round of Heineken Champions Cup action at Thomond Park.
For Northampton Saints:
Pens: Smith 2
Tries: Coombes 2
Cons: Carbery 2
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 James Ramm, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 David Ribbans, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Emmanuel Iyogun, 18 Alfie Petch, 19 Alex Moon, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Aaron Hinkley, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Fraser Dingwall.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Jack Crowley, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Jeremy Loughman.
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Roman Salanoa, 19 John Hodnett, 20 Alex Kendellen, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Shane Daly.
Referee: Pierre-Baptiste Nuchy (France)
Assistant referees: Kevin Bralley (France), Jonathan Gasnier (France)
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin (France)