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Fourteen-man Northampton Saints stun Munster in Limerick

CHAMPIONS CUP: Northampton Saints demonstrated a never-say-die attitude as they came from behind to defeat Munster 26-23 despite playing most of the game with 14 men.

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Flyhalf Fin Smith was the key, kicking 16 points as the Premiership side secured home advantage in the Round of 16. With a losing bonus point, Munster also secured their spot in the next stage of the competition.

It was Northampton Saints who opened the scoring, with a brilliant individual try from scrumhalf Alex Mitchell, the extras added by Smith.

But momentum gradually shifted the way of the hosts, with flyhalf Jack Crowley first kicking three points from the tee before adding a conversion to centre Antoine Frisch’s score in the 37th minute, Northampton Saints fullback George Furbank sent to the sin bin in the build-up.

That seemed to be it for the first 40, but hooker Curtis Langdon twice hit Munster second row Tom Ahern in the head with his knees and was sent off.

The Irish province availed of their two-man advantage with a second try, new Ireland captain and flank Peter O’Mahony getting over in the corner for an unconverted score to send the hosts in 15-7 to the good.

An early try in the second period from No.8 Gavin Coombes settled some Munster nerves, but a penalty and monster drop goal from Smith dragged the Gallagher Premiership side back into contention.

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A second Crowley penalty increased the side’s lead back up to seven, but Smith responded in kind with another huge kick from the tee.

Replacement Sam Graham then silenced Thomond Park as he went over to give the visitors a shock win, Smith converting to leave the hosts trailing by three with ten minutes to go – a deficit they couldn’t overcome.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries: Frish, O’Mahony, Coombes
Con: Crowley
Pens: Crowley 2

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For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Mitchell, Graham
Cons: Smith 2
Pens: Smith 3

Yellow card: George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 37)

Red card: Curtis Langdon (Northampton Saints, 39)

Teams

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Shane Daly, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Tadhg Beirne (captain), 4 Tom Ahern, 3 Oli Jager, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Jeremy Loughman.
Replacements: 16 Eoghan Clarke, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 John Ryan, 19 Brian Gleeson, 20 Alex Kendellen, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Seán O’Brien.

Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank (captain), 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Tom Pearson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Alex Coles, 4 Temo Mayanavanua, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 Curtis Langdon, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Smith, 17 Emmanuel Iyogun, 18 Elliot Millar Mills, 19 Alex Moon, 20 Sam Graham, 21 Tom James, 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Charlie Savala.

Referee: Tual Trainini (France)
Assistant referees: Ludovic Cayre (France), Flavien Hourquet (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

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