Munster progress despite home Champions Cup defeat

Thomond Park. Photo: Diarmuid Greene.

ALTHOUGH beaten 23-26 by Northampton Saints at a soaked Thomond Park, Munster are qualified for an away fixture in the last 16 of the Champions Cup.

Graham Rowntree’s side looked in control for most of the journey, but worryingly once again left slip what appeared a winning advantage.

Defeat also came at a cost as both Tom Ahern and Simon Zebo, who were forced to depart with injuries.

Munster led 15-7 at the break against then 13-man Northampton, who had a red card shown to hooker Curtis Langdon just before the interval and a yellow card given to full-back George Furbank a little earlier.

Northampton hit the front at the end of the opening quarter when scrum-half Alex Mitchell crossed and his half-back partner Fin Smith converted.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

Jack Crowley reduced the margin nine minutes from the break with a penalty from 30 metres and Munster hit the front two minutes from the break when Antoine Frisch finished after a tapped penalty.

Crowley converted and then in stoppage time at the end of the opening half Peter O’Mahony scored in the right corner to lead 15-7 at the interval.

Smith pulled back a penalty three minutes after the restart with the wind behind him before Munster got in for their third try when Gavin Coombes scored several phases after another tapped penalty.

That pushed Munster 20-10 in front after 49 minutes but Northampton hit back and Smith landed a penalty and a drop goal to cut the gap to four points.

Crowley pushed the lead out to 23-16 after 64 minutes but another penalty from Smith left four between them.

Northampton went back in front when Sam Graham scored and Smith converted nine minutes from time and Munster were unable to produce,

Munster: Simon Zebo (Sean O’Brien 43); Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Alex Nankivell (Joey Carbery 76), Shane Daly; Jack Crowley, Craig Casey; Jeremy Loughman (Josh Wycherley 67), Niall Scannell (Eoghan Clarke 67), Oli Jager (John Ryan 50); Tom Ahern (Brian Gleeson 40), Tadhg Beirne (c); Peter O’Mahony (Alex Kendellen 65), John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.