Super Saracens march past Munster in Champions Cup
PUBLISHED: 17:34 22 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:34 22 April 2017
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Munster 10 Saracens 26
Reigning champions Saracens are now just one game away from retaining the Champions Cup after a dominant second-half performance against Munster in Dublin.
The victory means Sarries will now play either Clermont Auvergne or Leinster in the final in Edinburgh next month.
A try apiece from Mako Vunipola and Chris Wyles continued Saracens’ unbeaten run in the competition, however the intensity from both sides was immense in a game where eight British and Irish Lions were on show.
Munster started the brighter of the two sides and broke the deadlock early on, with fly-half Tyler Bleyendaal slotting a penalty within 10 minutes to offer Saracens brief respite having defended from the off.
Sarries struggled to gain any momentum and when a break did come, an inside pass from wing Sean Maitland to Richard Wigglesworth failed to land with only the try line ahead.
With possession and territory against them, Saracens’ defence held strong and looked to attack off scraps. A scrum penalty in the Munster half allowed Owen Farrell to level the scores at 3-3 after the first quarter.
However, the English side were reduced to 14 men five minutes later when flanker Jackson Wray was sent to the bin having deemed to have tackled high despite the attacking Duncan Williams, in for Conor Murray, slipping into the tackle.
Farrell increased the lead after another penalty kick within the final stages of the first half and Sarries began to attack with a break from no.8 Billy Vunipola, who surged forward to put his side on the front foot and began to run through the phases.
An infringement from Munster gave Farrell the opportunity to gain the lead for the first time in the game resulting in a 6-3 advantage. Both sides went into the break having not conceded a try in the first half in the competition this season.
Saracens began the second half better than the first – playing with ball in hand and testing the Munster defence. However, handling errors and infringing at the scrum offered no consistency and fluidity to their game.
The visitors went close to scoring the game’s first try 10 minutes after the restart when second-row George Kruis picked the ball out of the ruck five metres out only to spill the ball over the line following a list-ditch tackle from Jean Deysel.
Sarries broke the try drought moments later, with prop Vunipola powering over after a series of attempts to breach the line.
Farrell duly converted to give Sarries a 10-point lead and take the score to 13-3.
The arrears should have been reduced soon after, but a rare penalty miss from Bleyendaal kept the deficit at double figures and the momentum swung in favour of the reigning champions.
Sarries began to tighten the screw with Farrell extending the lead to 16-3 in the final quarter with a penalty kick off the back of a dominant scrum.
And despite the resulting onslaught from Munster, Saracens were able to turn the ball over and conjure up their own attack.
A delayed kick through from Farrell allowed the replacement wing Wyles to pick the pocket of Bleyendaal and touch down, with Farrell once again obliging with the conversion and further extending the lead to 23-3 in the final 10 minutes.
Farrell added a further penalty, before a consolation try from CJ Stander for Munster in the dying stages.
And Saracens will now head to Edinburgh for the final in May believing they will have what it takes to win back-to-back Champions Cup titles and after this performance it would be difficult to see anyone other than Saracens lifting the silverware.