Sarries keep Champions Cup hopes alive
MATCH REPORT: Saracens defeated Munster Rugby 15-6 on Saturday in Champions Cup Pool 4 to give their hopes of defending their crown a much-needed boost.
Tries from Mako Vunipola and Sean Maitland were enough to give the 2019 winners a key victory in what was a bruising contest throughout at Allianz Park
The defending champions had all the territory and possession in the opening 10 minutes and they took advantage as Owen Farrell popped over a three-pointer to give the defending champions the early lead.
It took 17 minutes for the next points and they came to the visitors as Munster piled pressure on the Saracens line but to their credit, they would not let Munster over and held them up. However, the Irish province possessed penalty advantage and opted for the three points as JJ Hanrahan popped over the equalising kick.
Farrell had the chance to put Saracens ahead with a fairly straightforward penalty kick on 32 minutes but he pushed it just wide of the posts as the half ended all-square.
Three minutes into the second period, Ben Earl gave away a penalty on Keith Earls and that allowed JJ Hanrahan to sweep over a second penalty kick and give the visitors the lead.
But as Munster look the lead, Saracens clicked into gear and got their reward with less than 15 minutes to play.
Saracens put the Munster scrum under pressure and Billy Vunipola took advantage by picking up and playing a lovely offload to Sean Maitland who dived over in the corner for a vital try, although Farrell couldn’t add the extras.
Five minutes later, the defending champions secured the win after some lovely interchanging passes got Saracens into the Munster 22.
From there, Saracens unleashed a string of powerful phases and at the posts, it was Mako Vunipola who was able to burrow a way over to secure a crucial Pool 4 win.
In Round 5, Saracens travel to face Ospreys while Munster Rugby will fly to Paris to take on Pool 4 leaders Racing 92.
What an intense display at Allianz Park 🥵
Sum that game up in one word 👇 pic.twitter.com/8dsR7v4eyq
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 14, 2019
Tries: Maitland, M Vunipola
Pens: Hanrahan 2
Saracens: 15 Max Malins, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 George Kruis, 4 Joel Kpoku, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Josh Ibuanokpe, 19 Calum Clark, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Manu Vunipola, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Fineen Wycherley, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Dan Goggin, 23 Tommy O’Donnell.
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France)
Assistant referees: Maxime Chalons (France), Jonathan Dufort (France)
TMO Éric Gauzins (France)