Captain Peter O’Mahony claimed a crucial lone try as Munster overcame Saracens 10-3 in a scrappy Heineken Champions Cup contest at a weather-beaten Thomond Park.
O’Mahony’s 30th-minute touchdown – adding to JJ Hanrahan’s five points from the tee – was all the hosts could muster from their first half wind advantage and a two-thirds share of both possession and territory.
Here's our 60 -second guide to the game's key points.
Referee Romain Poite’s controversial decision to send off Arno Botha for a forearm to the neck of Nick Tompkins gave Saracens hope of a late reprieve as they trailed 10-3 with the clock past 80 minutes. Yet from the visitors’ lineout inside the Munster 22 it was Botha’s fellow replacement Jack O’Donoghue who secured the home victory with a crucial steal to the delight of a rain-soaked full house at Thomond Park.
With Saracens sending a weakened side to Limerick in the wake of their domestic woes following a Premiership points deduction, Munster were finally able to defeat the team that had outclassed them in the 2017 and 2019 semi-finals. The win was far from easy and Munster may rue the losing bonus point Saracens left Thomond Park with but they live to fight another day in this Pool 4 campaign albeit with tougher challenges await in London and Paris.
CJ Stander picked up the man of the match award on a filthy night, an error-strewn second half played out in constant rainfall but in truth, this was a Munster performance to forget.
Romain Poite made full use of his television match official, fellow Frenchman Denis Grenouillet, but ruled out a first-half Munster try for a debatable knock-on as a pass on halfway went through Chris Farrell’s hands and found Mike Haley. Worse was to come in the eyes of Munster supporters when Poite dismissed Botha past 80 minutes, the back-rower’s attempted fend with his forearm into Tompkins’ neck deemed worthy of red rather than yellow.
Munster 8 Saracens 10
There were no clear and obvious injury concerns for Munster but the wait continues for the returns of fly-halves Joey Carbery and Tyler Bleyendaal as well as loosehead props Dave Kilcoyne and Jeremy Loughman.
There is unfinished business between these teams and Saracens will be followed back to north London by Munster for next Saturday’s round-four clash at Allianz Park.
M Haley; A Conway, C Farrell, R Scannell, K Earls; JJ Hanrahan, C Murray; J Cronin (L O’Connor, 69), N Scannell (K O’Byrne, 79), S Archer (J Ryan, 55); J Kleyn (F Wycherley, 62), B Holland; T Beirne (J O’Donoghue, 62), P O’Mahony - captain, CJ Stander (A Botha, 69).
Red card: A Botha 80th minute
Replacements not used: N McCarthy, S Arnold
M Gallagher; R Segun (M Malins, 62), A Lozowski (N Tompkins, 63), B Barritt - captain, A Lewington; Manu Vunipola, B Spencer (T Whiteley, 68); R Barrington (R Carre, 54), J Singleton, T Lamositele (J Ibuanokpe, 63); W Skelton (J Kpoku, 63), M Itoje; N Isiekwe, B Earl, J Wray.
K Pifeleti, S Reffell.
Romain Poite (France)