Mike O’Halloran: Munster Outclassed By Saracens

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rsz_mike_ohalloranOur rugby writer, Mike O’Halloran, reports from London on Munster’s defeat to Saracens on Saturday

Saracens 33

Munster 10


Action from the Sale Sharks v Munster game on Saturday. Photo by Mike O’Halloran

In my piece last week before the Munster team was selected, I said that Conor Murray would be a loss if he was unable to play and so it proved.

His replacement Duncan Williams spent a long time out on the pitch before the game with almost every member of the coaching staff having some advice for him.

Whatever they said to the man, it did not work. Not that all the blame for Munster’s loss can be laid at his door, given that most of the pack in front of him were of little help to a man making his first start in this competition, apart from Tommy O Donnell that is.

The truth is Munster were out classed by Saracens who looked comfortable through out the game.

Munster were guilty of very basic errors by key players: Williams made a mistake on nine minutes that led to a penalty.

A kick out in the full by Keatley led to Chris Wyles try from the lineout, Paul O Connell made two errors that led to the second Sarries try and another kick out in the full led eventually to another chance for Farrell to leave the score at half-time Saracens 23 Munster 3.

The loss of CJ Stander on 27 minutes was also a major blow to Munster as Saracens scored 13 points from the 27th minute to the 40th minute.

The second half saw Munster come out early and do some warm ups prior to the game recommencing, an early flurry gave the travelling supporters some hope but that was soon dashed as Saracens again took over.

James Cronin was sin-binned, Denis Hurley got a try and they were the high and low lights of a day that will only be remembered for the way that the Munster supporters sang and applauded their team off the field, and for the one hundred thousand welcomes the Munster fans received from the Love Bombing “Saracens Pioneers”.

Some the stats from the game make for interesting reading: Own Scrum Success Saracens 100% Munster 86%; Possession Saracens 50% Munster 50%; Possession in opposition half Saracens 60% Munster 40%.

Most carries for Munster: Peter O Mahony 9, Felix Jones 8, Andrew Conway 8. Most Metres made Andrew Conway 61. Most Tackles made Tommy O Donnell.

The lead up to this game was hardly ideal; beginning with the decision last week to bring Conor Murray back on after his injury in Italy, the failure of the management to learn anything from the defeat to Connacht and the selection of door breakers rather than lock pickers at centre.

Thirty minutes into this game it looked lost and the question on all lips after the game was how was JJ Hanrahan was left on the bench until six minutes from the end, when the Munster halfbacks were both having a nightmare?

When JJ came on he looked comfortable and confident, something that was lacking all day.

Where to now for Munster?

Well next Sunday they play Sale Sharks in a dead rubber then its down to business in The Guinness Pro Twelve to attempt to secure qualification for The Champions Cup in 2016.

If qualification is achieved then Munster must give their young guns some decent game time, with the more established players (some of whom are living on past reputations) only playing bit parts.

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