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Rugby | Champions Cup

Mako Vunipola © Gallo Images

Saracens grind down Munster to reach final



Saracens produced an outstanding display as they reached their second successive Champions Cup final following an excellent 26-10 triumph over Munster at the Aviva Stadium.

These two sides have arguably been the form teams of this year’s competition and the opening period was an unsurprisingly fierce contest.

It was dominated by the power of the forward packs and the box-kicking prowess of the two scrum-halves. The Irish province arguably shaded those contests but it was Sarries who went into the interval 6-3 ahead thanks to two Owen Farrell penalties.

Tyler Bleyendaal had given the Limerick-based outfit the lead but, having had the better of proceedings in the first half, Munster paid the price for failing to build on that early three-pointer.

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Sarries managed the contest impressively in the second half and Mako Vunipola’s try set them on their way before Chris Wyles sealed their place in the showpiece event yet again.

Rassie Erasmus’ men began with the type of vim and vigour they have become renowned for this season, immediately putting the visitors under pressure at the set-piece.

Dave Kilcoyne and John Ryan went to work at the scrum, earning territory and then a penalty as the PRO12 team carved out a chance in the opposition 22.

CJ Stander went close but ferocious defence kept him out and they had to be content with a Bleyendaal three-pointer.

Saracens soon levelled via Farrell but it was Munster who were controlling the field position. Mark McCall’s side were struggling to maintain their discipline and, after they had been warned for two late tackles, Jackson Wray was sin-binned for a high shot on Duncan Williams.

The Irishmen duly continued with their territorial dominance on the encounter but Sarries’ famed rearguard remained firm and, once Wray returned, the defending champions started to assert their authority in the front-row.

Under pressure, Munster infringed and from in front of the posts Farrell was on target to give his team the advantage going into the break.

Play reversed at the start of the second half with Sarries gaining most of the front foot ball but, much like the Irish province in the first 40 minutes, they initially failed to take advantage when George Kruis knocked on with the line a metre away.

They were not to be denied, however, and from close range Vunipola burrowed his way over for a ten-point buffer with a quarter of the match remaining.

Farrell then added a penalty before Wyles latched onto the fly-half’s grubber through to touch down and end the game as a contest.

Saracens could now relax with their place in the final against either Clermont Auvergne or Leinster assured, but they still had time for another score when their number ten kicked a three-pointer.

Munster did have the final word through Stander, but that proved to be just a consolation score, as Saracens advance to the final at Murrayfield.

SCORES:

Munster: Try: Stander Con: Keatley Pen: Bleyendaal

Saracens: Tries: M Vunipola, Wyles Cons: Farrell 2 Pens: Farrell 4 Yellow Card: Wray



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