Vunipola brothers inspire Saracens past Munster, Leinster thrash Saints

By Sports Desk December 14, 2019

Saracens breathed new life into their European Champions Cup title defence as the Vunipola brothers starred in a 15-6 win over Munster at Allianz Park.

The reigning champions, who have lifted the trophy in three of the past four seasons, had won just one of their opening three games and came into the game trailing Pool 4 leaders Racing 92 by 11 points.

They were 6-3 behind against Munster early in the second half when a melee ensued after Jamie George appeared to be enraged by a conversation with a member of Munster's staff.

The brawl spilled over onto the advertising hoardings and, once it had subsided, Munster got a penalty which JJ Hanrahan missed.

Saracens soon came alive as Billy Vunipola, with three men converging on him, flipped a brilliant pass out to Sean Maitland to score before Mako Vunipola dotted down eight minutes from time to leave Sarries just one point behind second-placed Munster.

Leinster, the side Sarries beat in last season's final, made it four wins from four in Pool 1 with a dominant 50-21 victory over Northampton as Garry Ringrose scored a hat-trick.

The Ireland centre went over twice in the opening six minutes before Tadhg Furlong and Dave Kearney earned Leinster a bonus point prior to half-time.

Ringrose completed his treble after James Lowe had scored, with Caelan Doris crossing for Leinster's seventh and final try.

Premiership leaders Northampton - whose try-scorers were Dan Biggar, Ollie Sleightholme and Ahsee Tuala - now trail Leinster by 10 points with two games remaining.

Robin Copeland's 81st-minute try earned Connacht a 27-24 success over Gloucester, while Marco Lazzaroni's late score proved the difference in Benetton Treviso's 25-22 triumph against Lyon.

Toulouse beat Montpellier 26-18 while La Rochelle edged past Glasgow Warriors 12-7.

 

Related items

  • Wasps cleared to play in Premiership final against Exeter Chiefs Wasps cleared to play in Premiership final against Exeter Chiefs

    Wasps will take part in the Premiership final against Exeter Chiefs after the club reported no further coronavirus cases in the latest round of testing. 

    Having secured their place at Twickenham by defeating Bristol Bears in the semi-finals, Wasps' involvement in the game was put in doubt when 11 COVID-19 cases were confirmed among players and staff. 

    However, the Coventry-based club announced no further cases were discovered in tests on Tuesday, clearing them to play against Exeter. 

    The squad will return to training as they prepare for Saturday's big game, which will see the top two in the table at the end of the regular season go up against each other for the title.  

    Bristol had been on standby to step in at short notice, but a late change to the schedule will not now be required. 

    "I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to Premiership Rugby, the RFU, Public Health England and Public Health Warwickshire for their clarity and assistance throughout this whole process,” Stephen Vaughan, Wasps Group CEO, said. 

    "As a club, we are delighted that we can now take our rightful place in this Saturday's Premiership Rugby final. To all of our fans and well-wishers, thank you for your many messages of support, this final is for you!".

    Wasps have made it through to the final for the first time since 2017, when they lost 23-20 to the Chiefs after extra time.

    As for Exeter, this will be their fifth straight appearance in the showpiece fixture. The newly crowned Champions Cup winners have lost the last two, both to Saracens.

  • Clarke dazzles on full All Blacks debut as Hooper gets personal with All Blacks wing Clarke dazzles on full All Blacks debut as Hooper gets personal with All Blacks wing

    Caleb Clarke has made quite the impression at the start of his international career, forcing Australia captain Michael Hooper to use a rather unique method in an attempt to slow the wing down. 

    After making his New Zealand debut off the bench in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Wellington last weekend, Clarke started in the second game between the trans-Tasman rivals in Auckland. 

    Clarke capitalised on the opportunity too, earning comparisons to the great Jonah Lomu as his running game helped his side to a resounding 27-7 triumph at Eden Park. 

    He beat 12 defenders during the course of the game – the second-highest number recorded by a player in a Test since the beginning of 2010. 

    It was on one such burst that Wallabies back-row Hooper made contact with Clarke in a way that certainly caught his attention. 

    "You know what, Michael Hooper grabbed my nuts just then," he told Sky Sport in an interview after the game. 

    "They were really sore. I turned and tried to push his hand off." 

    While watching a montage of his performance, Clarke – whose father, Eroni, played for New Zealand in the 1990s – also admitted that he tried to do the same to Hooper. 

    "On this run, I tried to get him back," Clarke said while watching a replay. "Our physio said to get him back, so I tried to do it there." 

    He certainly grabbed the attention of those watching on, with George Gregan praising a performance that belied the 21-year-old's lack of experience at the highest level. 

    "We saw the makings of a wonderful player during Super Rugby with this man," the former Australia scrum-half said, per Fox Sports. 

    "He comes from a pretty good lineage with his father, who we played against in Eroni Clarke, but today just reinforced how important power and precision are and he has the ball skills and went looking for work. 

    "He was dynamic, it was a great example of a young man backing himself and his skill-set."

  • New Zealand put a marker down with dominant display, says Foster New Zealand put a marker down with dominant display, says Foster

    New Zealand head coach Ian Foster felt his side put down a marker for the rest of the series with Saturday's dismantling of Australia in Auckland.

    The All Blacks triumphed 27-7, outscoring the Wallabies by four tries to one, in game two of the Bledisloe Cup.

    Inspired by young wing Caleb Clarke, the hosts extended their unbeaten run at Eden Park to 44 matches in an impressive response to last week's 16-16 draw in Wellington.

    Foster denied feeling relieved at the improved performance but accepts his side have now set a standard to which they must adhere.

    "Relief is not something I feel at all," he said. "This is what Test matches are about. If we don't perform to the levels we want to, we know a lot of pressure comes on this team.

    "In some ways, they're great weeks. There's nowhere to hide. There's no way anyone can get complacent. And if we thought we were in the house last week, we got a reminder we weren't.

    "This week we got a reminder it wasn't good enough – from ourselves and everyone around us.

    "It's a pleasing feeling. We've put a marker down, that's the level we need to start at and we've just got to climb because it's a tough series. This is a better Wallabies team than I've seen for a while. They want to stay in the fight, so we had to fight for 80 minutes."

    Clarke, 21, earned comparisons with all-time great Jonah Lomu with some powerful running, with one burst forward taking him through five tackles before setting up Ardie Savea to score.

    "He just wants the ball and wants to run hard, and it's quite a good thing for us to give him the ball and let him run hard," said Foster.

    Indeed, Australia coach Dave Rennie summed up the difference between the two teams as "tackle execution".

    "We missed too many tackles and we got put under the heat for it," he said.

    "You can't give the All Blacks that much ball, they have too many athletes that can hurt you. But the boys are working hard and I'm pretty confident that in two weeks we will be a better side."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.