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Sorry day for Munster as they crash out

Saracens 33, Munster 10:
SATURDAY, January 17, 2015. Remember the date. Hopefully it will be some time before Munster put in a European performance as poor as this one today in the Allianz Park.
Losing Conor Murray during the week because of a neck injury picked up in Parma the previous week-end, when he collided with an upright as he scored a try, was a definite factor while the loss of CJ Stander midway through the first half was another blow that Anthony Foley could well have done without.
After the game the Munster head coach said that he was not making any excuses. They were well beaten by a better side and his team would have to look at where they went wrong before the final game in front of their own supporters in Thomond Park next week-end.
The defeat was Munster’s biggest in 17 seasons and puts them out of the competition for season 2014/5.
It is now a serious situation for Munster Rugby. The side is well positioned in the Guinness Pro 12 but the prospect of a quarter final game in April, always good to generate business, has gone.
Below-par performances from some of the boys in red did not help the reds’ cause but scrum-half Duncan Williams, despite being nabbed for the opening Sarries penalty, stood out from 80 minutes of Munster mediocrity. Having his first start in European competition, the Corkman stepped into Murray’s position comfortably and cannot be blamed for the error-strewn, ragged performance that too often handed possession back to Saracens at crucial times of the game.
Sarries started well and 10-0 up after 20 minutes, a try from left wing Chris Wyse and a conversion and penalty by Owen Farrell. The home out-half’s penalty on 27 minutes after Munster had lost CJ Stander with an injury pushed Saracens 13-0 in front and already the omens were bad for the boys in red.
Keatley kicked a penalty to bring the lead back to 13-3 but Munster struggled to put together the phases and were hit a sucker punch five minutes before half time. Sarries took a quick tap penalty as Munster retreated too casually, the ball went through the hands to Wyse and the late call-up’s clever kick inside set up Chris Ashton for their second try, converted by Farrell who also added a penalty on the stroke of the short whistle.
Munster had a good spell after the restart but were whistled for holding on five metres from the line. The rest of the half was almost one-way traffic but Saracens’ next score did not come until the 56th minutes, Owen Farrell kicking a close-in penalty to push the lead to 26-3.
With James Cronin in the sin-bin, Munster at last showed their willingness to make a match of this one, Denis Hurley getting over and Keatley adding the extra points to bring the score to 26-10. That was as good as it got for Foley’s men. Saracens finished in style, Chris Ashton finishing off a flowing backline move to go over near the posts and Farrell completing a good afternoon’s work for the North Londoners with a 33-10 win to set up an interesting final game next week-end in Clermont.
Referee: Romain Poite (France), Assistant ref: Christophe Berdos (France), Assistant ref: Tual Trainini (France), TMO: Eric Gauzins (France), Citing Commissioner: Douglas Hunter (Scotland)
Saracens: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Marcelo Bosch, Brad Barritt, Chris Wyse; Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Petrus du Plessis, Jim Hamilton, Alistair Hargreaves (c), Kelly Brown, Jacques Burger, Billy Vunipola
Replacements: Brett Sharman, Richard Barrington, James Johnston, Maro Itoje, Ernst Joubert, Neil de Kock, Charlie Hodgson, Chris Wyles
Munster Rugby: Felix Jones; Andrew Conway, Pat Howard, Denis Hurley, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Duncan Casey, BJ Botha, Dave Foley, Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony (c), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander
Replacements: Eusebio Guinazu, John Ryan, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Dave O’Callaghan, Ronan O’Mahony, JJ Hanrahan, Keith Earls

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