Match Centre: Champions Cup: Munster 23-26 Northampton

Peter O'Mahony's try went in vain for Munster
Peter O'Mahony's try went in vain for Munster

Munster 23-26 Northampton Saints, Pool 3, Thomond Park

Northampton Saints successfully overcame a red card to Curtis Langdon as they edged out Munster 26-23 in the final round of the Investec Champions Cup at Thomond Park on Saturday.

The win has seen Northampton extend their lead at the top of the table while Munster's losing bonus point saw them sneak through the round of 16 having finished fourth in the group.

Even though Saints dominated most of the possession in the first 18 minutes they could not convert it into points until the 18th minute when Alex Mitchell picked up from the base of central ruck just outside the 22 to touchdown for the opening try and Fin Smith improved it making 0-7.

Jack Crowley kicked a 31st minute penalty goal to begin the proceedings for the Saints but missed a second three-pointer shortly. The Saints indiscipline almost cost them the game as Crowley was sin-binned in the 37th minute for a tip tackle on Calvin Nash and two minutes later Langdon was red carded for a dangerous tackle on Tom Ahern.

Munster made full use of the numerical advantage as Antoine Frisch and Peter O'Mahony scoring tries to ensure the home side completed the opening half with a 15-7 lead.

The Saints were the quickest to get off the block in the second half with a penalty goal from Fin Smith before number eight Gavin Coombes dived from close range but Smith ensured Northampton were in the game with a penalty kick and a drop goal before the two fly-halves exchanged penalties bringing the scoreline to 23-16 by the 66th minute.

As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Northampton trailed by four points and they won a breakdown penalty which Smith kicked to the corner and eventually Sam Graham dotted down to provide a much needed relief for the Saints. Smith ensured he held his nerve with the conversion as the Saints completed a thrilling win to extend their lead at the top.

Team line up:

Munster: Zebo; Nash, Frisch, Nankivell, Daly; Crowley, Casey; Loughman, Scannell, Jager; Ahern, Beirne (capt); O'Mahony, Hodnett, Coombes.

Reserves: Clarke, Wycherley, Ryan, Gleeson, Kendellen, Murray, Carbery, O'Brien.

Northampton Saints: Furbank (capt); Freeman, Dingwall, Hutchinson, Sleightholme; Smith, Mitchell; Waller, Langdon, Davison; Mayanavanua, Coles; Lawes, Pearson, Augustus.

Reserves: Smith, Iyogun, Millar-Mills, Moon, Graham, James, Odendaal, Savala.


European Rugby Champions Cup Points Table