End of European adventure for Munster

Josh Hodnett takes a quiet moment after Munster’s defeat against Northampton Saints. Photo: Brendan Moran.

THE indications were there the previous weekend against Cardiff, but Munster failed to repair the leaks when it mattered most in the Champions Cup knock-out fixture against Northampton Saints at Frankfields Gardens this past Sunday.

The blockbusting start was promising and with the teams level 14 points apiece at the break, it was obvious that the first score of the second half was crucial.

Northampton’s four tries (James Ramm, Tommy Freeman, and George Hendy, 2), in their eventual 24-14 win, all came from good old running rugby, the visitors could not cope with Ramm, the top performer of the weekend with 127 metres.

Saints have been a bogey side for the Reds in this competition.

Go back to the final in May 2000 at Twickenham when Munster agonisingly lost by a single point. That defeat still hurts for those who made the journey to London.

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For the neutrals, Sunday’s early rugby spectacle was a treat to watch.

Munster went into the tie with a weak bench and should have had adequate cover for the two pre-match withdrawals.

Munster coach Graham Rowntree, who did not want to comment on the condition of RG Snyman (which ruled him out of the contest), said that he was proud of their effort.

“We stuck in there, a proper game of rugby. It’s not been a straightforward week in terms of availability and illness. I’m proud of our effort but we’ll sit down and look at how we don’t give away those presents,” he stated.

Now switching the focus on retaining the URC and Munster face two games in South Africa, against the Bulls and a week later at the Lions.

After that, Munster will host Connacht, travel to Edinburgh, and conclude the regular phase with a visit from Ulster.