Munster have lost their Champions Cup semi final against Saracens 32-16 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry this afternoon. Tries from Billy Vunipola and Michael Rhodes, coupled with 22 points from the boot of Owen Farrell were enough to see Mark McCall's side into the May 11 final in Newcastle against either Toulouse or Leinster. The loss is Munster's seventh semi final loss in a row.
The first half to this semi final was an evenly contested affair and the 12-9 story told the story of Munster's defensive effort and their execution when they entered the Saracens 22. At 9-9, with the clocking ticking into the red, Niall Scannell went on his own from the base of a ruck and a penalty was conceded by Munster seconds later. It was the light that Saracens needed and they forced their way into Munster's 22, before Farrell kicked the points to give his side a slender, but deserved lead at the break.
The second 40 belonged to Saracens and Saracens only, as the finalists flexed their muscles and made their power tell. A try from Michael Rhodes meant that Munster would play catch up for the remainder of the game, something they were unable to do.
The semi-final has its first try— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 20, 2019
Saracens go over for the score and there's a bit of day-light between the sides now! pic.twitter.com/qbnX60qtks
With the score at 19-9, Saracens returned to type and take a choke hold on the game. The score board slipped away from Munster as Farrell continued to kick his side into a 25-9 lead.
Munster made a change at number 10 and instantly the tempo of the game changed in their favour. Winning a scrum against the head allowed Munster to puts some hands on the ball and Darren Sweetnam was on hand to touch down to give his side hope. Hanrahan added the extras to leave it at 25-16. The next score was going to be huge.
Chaos at the Saracens scrum and Munster take full advantage! pic.twitter.com/MWtoz9497G— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 20, 2019
The next score was to come from the man of the match, Billy Vunipola, so crashed over from a yard out to seal Munster's fate. The back row has had a turbulent few days following his social media activity, but it did have any adverse affect on this performance, leading his side into the final.
"I believe in what I believe in. There was no intention to hurt anyone."— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 20, 2019
Billy Vunipola speaks after a Man of the Match performance. pic.twitter.com/aoE7wxeVQK
Saracens: Goode, Maitland, Lozowski, Barritt, Williams; Farrell, Spencer; M Vunipola, George, Lamositele, Itoje, Kruis, Rhodes, Wray, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Gray, Barrington, Koch, Skelton, Burger, Wigglesworth, Tompkins, Strettle.
Munster: Haley; Conway, Farrell, Scannell, Sweetnam; Bleyendaal, Murray; Kilcoyne, Scannell, Ryan; Kleyn, Beirne; O'Mahony (C), O'Donoghue, Stander.
Replacements: Marshall, Loughman, Archer, Holland, Botha, Mathewson, JJ Hanrahan, Goggin.