Boot of O'Gara helps Munster to stand up and fight off Saracens
In complete control now, O’Gara rewarded Donncha O’Callaghan’s physicality in contact to make it 15-6 with 27 minutes to play. Saracens dug deep, switching Farrell to outhalf while the arrival of John Smit and Vunipola gave them the ascendancy in the scrum.
Munster looked increasingly exposed but just as Will Fraser seemed certain to score in the corner, to set up a grandstand finish, Zebo arrived with a hugely important cover tackle.
Farrell missed another kick but he swallowed deep to finally reward Saracens’ relentless late charge. The bonus point does allow McCall’s men to look positively at this very poor performance ahead of what promises to be a fascinating revenge mission.
SCORING SEQUENCE – 4 mins: R O’Gara pen, 3-0; 28: R O’Gara pen, 6-0; 36: O Farrell pen, 6-3; 38: R O’Gara pen, 9-3. Half-time. 43: O Farrell pen, 9-6; 49: R O’Gara pen, 12-6; 53: R O’Gara pen, 15-6; 78: O Farrell 15-9.
MUNSTER: F Jones; D Howlett (capt), K Earls, J Downey, S Zebo; R O’Gara, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, BJ Botha; D O’Callaghan, D Ryan; D O’Callaghan, P O’Mahony, J Coughlan. Replacements: P Butler for Dave O’Callaghan (62 mins), W du Preez for D Kilcoyne, D Varley for M Sherry, C Laulala for F Jones (all 66 mins), I Keatley for S Zebo (74 mins).
SARACENS: A Goode; C Ashton, O Farrell, B Barritt, D Strettle; C Hodgson, N de Kock; R Gill, S Brits, M Stevens; S Borthwick (capt), M Botha; K Brown, W Fraser, E Joubert. Replacements: M Vunipola for W Fraser (temp, 21 - 30), M Vunipola for R Gill, R Wigglesworth for N de Kock (both 50 mins), D Strettle for C Hodgson (57 mins), G Kruis for M Botha, J Smit for S Brits (both 59 mins), A Saul for W Fraser (64 mins). Sin bin: Donncha O’Callaghan and Rhys Gill (20-30 mins)
Referee: P Gauzere (France).