Jan 17, 2015
Brilliant Billy bursts Munster bubble
Billy Vunipola inspired Saracens to a 33-10 win against Munster in round 5 of the European Champions Cup.
In front of a sold-out Allianz Park, the barnstorming Sarries No8 produced a Man of the Match performance as his side convincingly beat Munster in a three try win.
Vunipola was at his physical best, with a series of eye-watering tackles and punishing drives that must have registered on Stuart Lancaster’s radar. Wing Chris Ashton also impressed scoring two tries, as did Owen Farrell who delivered a composed performance in the No10 shirt and from the kicking tee contributing 18 points. Chris Wyles was Saracens other try scorer on the day.
Saracens were first on the board, after Owen Farrell knocked over a penalty kick after 9 minutes. Moments later Billy Vunipola smashed Munster talisman Paul O’Connell in a bone-rattling tackle, as both sides continued to fight for gain-line supremacy.
The hits were ferocious. Up next Munster No8 CJ Stander and Saracens’ battled scarred loose forward Jacques Burger lined each other up, again neither player yielded any advantage with the sold-out Allianz Park faithful left to wince at the collisions.
Saracens certainly enjoyed the majority of possession and field position in the first twenty minutes, and their dominance payed off when Chris Wyles (a late replacement for David Strettle before kick off) crossed for the games first try, which Farrell converted.
Saracens were in the mood, and with half-backs Richard Wigglesworth and Owen Farrell dictating play so expertly the scoreboard continued to tick over when Farrell added another well struck penalty.
Munster outside half Ian Keatley responded for the Irish province only for Saracens to respond with their second try of the afternoon seconds later.
From a penalty on the halfway line Richard Wigglesworth quick tapped. Sensing that Munster were on the back foot the in-form England half-back flung a well-timed pass into the path of Marcelo Bosch. The Argentine showed good timing to release Chris Wyles down the left hand wing, Wyles grubber kicked inside to Chris Ashton who finished with ease. Farrell converted and added another penalty to give Saracens a 23-3 lead at the break.
After the break Saracens edged further in front with two Owen Farrell penalties, before Munster crossed for their first try of the game as Denis Hurley dotted the ball down just left of the Saracens posts. Keatley converted.
Sarries were chasing a bonus point, and when Chris Ashton crossed for his second of the afternoon it set-up a grandstand finish. Munster didn't concede, but Saracens can be happy with a superb European performance at their home ground.
Final score: Saracens 33 Munster 10.
Saracens: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Marcelo Bosch, Brad Barritt, Chris Wyles ; 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, Ben Ransom
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