Saracens never made a fuss of it at the time and they’re not about to start now but Munster know how lucky they were to edge past them and reach their last European Cup final in 2008.
A controversial decision from Welsh ref Nigel Owens against England’s Richard Hill in the final seconds of his last big match denied the English underdogs a pot-shot at goal to win the semi-final at Coventry 19-18. Ronan O’Gara, for one, knows the penalty decision could easily have gone the other way. “The referee penalised Hill for not releasing but he could just as easily have done ‘Wally’ for hands in the ruck,” O’Gara wrote in his autobiography. ‘We had put ourselves in the only position where we felt they could beat us: with a last-minute core in a one-score game. We got away with it. Nobody was celebrating in our dressing room... it was like we’d lost.’ One month later they were champions of Europe.
At least one old Munster warrior is still standing up to be counted. Peter Stringer, at 37 the oldest scrum half in the trade, is heading towards the last eight with Bath after making a late appearance in yesterday’s bonus-point win in Toulouse.
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