Mako Vunipola Munster left empty-handed as Saracens finish over the top in London

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Saracens 15

Munster 6

MUNSTER WENT TOE to toe with Saracens for 60 minutes and traded blow for blow in an eye-wateringly physical encounter at Allianz Park but they were knocked over in the final quarter as the reigning Europeans delivered the crushing killer plays.

Johann van Graan’s side led 6-3 entering the closing 15 minutes but the influence of the returning Vunipola brothers told late on as number eight Billy brilliantly teed up Sean Maitland for a try and then loosehead Mako barrelled over for a second.

Mako Vunipola jean-kleyn-in-the-middle-of-a-scuffle-between-the-two-teams
It was a hugely edgy contest in London.

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

In doing so, Saracens denied Munster even a losing bonus point on the road, when their gritty performance felt like it deserved something. 

The fact that the visitors had a late chance to kick at goal but instead opted to kick for touch and were turned over will rankle with them in the coming days. After a big effort, they leave London empty-handed.

Munster had to overcome serious injury setbacks as captain Peter O’Mahony was ruled out after pulling up with a groin injury in the warm-up, whil blindside Tadhg Beirne was carried off with a serious-looking ankle injury just 11 minutes in, and then tighthead John Ryan was forced off in the first half. Andrew Conway also departed with a head injury in the second 40.

Losing those four Ireland internationals didn’t help but Munster muscled up in a foul-tempered affair that featured an all-in bout of handbags when Saracens hooker Jamie George took exception to one of Munster’s medical team.

Van Graan’s side now must win away to Racing 92 in Paris in January, another daunting challenge, with their knock-out stage hopes looking in real trouble.

There was familiar frustration here in not being able to break down the Saracens defence and the failure to even notch a losing bonus point, after the English side claimed one in Thomond Park, will leave them with real regrets. 

Munster will never give up in Europe but they now need something big in Paris on Sunday 12 January. 

Mako Vunipola tadhg-beirne-has-to-leave-the-field-due-to-a-knee-injury
Tadhg Beirne was stretchered off in the first half.

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The first half was a tight and brutally physical affair with neither defence cracking as Owen Farrell and JJ Hanrahan’s penalties left the game poised at 3-3 at the break.

That scoreline belied an enjoyable

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