Farrell's boot a bonus for Sarries despite defeat

Munster 15 Saracens 9

thomond park

Owen Farrell snatched an invaluable bonus point for Saracens with a penalty 90 seconds from the end of a dour encounter here last night.

Had he been on target earlier, however, he might have prevented this Munster victory. Farrell had a nightmare with the boot, missing four penalty kicks before keeping his nerve to secure the bonus point that ensures the sides will be level on points heading into next Sunday's clash at Vicarage Road.

Whistle-happy referee Pascal Gauzère was, alas, the primary figure and play never got a chance to develop. Munster were constantly pinged in the scrum and by half-time there was a penalty count of 10-7 in favour of the visitors.

Saracens had not lost a single lineout in their two Heineken Cup games this season, but by the interval the superb work of Donnacha Ryan and Peter O'Mahony saw them spill five of their own throws.

Ronan O'Gara gave Munster an early boost with a 30-metre penalty after four minutes, and had Conor Murray – caught in two minds about whether to go himself or pass after a super dummy – been able to find Simon Zebo in front of the posts, they would have pulled away.

Tension levels were always high and Gauzère dished out yellow cards to Saracens prop Rhys Gill and Munster lock Donncha O'Callaghan when they ended up grappling on the ground after 20 minutes.

O'Gara doubled Munster's lead eight minutes later with a penalty from the right but Farrell reduced the deficit three minutes from the interval.

Munster finished the first half strongly and O'Gara made no mistake from 35 metres on the left after O'Callaghan was impeded in the lineout.

Farrell reduced the deficit with a penalty four minutes after the restart but only after the England player had missed another kick.

Munster started to get some breaks from the French official and O'Gara twice kicked from close range to make it 15-6.

Neither side managed to build phases but a good Saracens move almost yielded the first try after 65 minutes. Will Frasier was held up in the right corner by the combined effort of Conor Murray and James Coughlan.

Farrell missed from 22 metres six minutes from time, but 90 seconds from the end he landed one from the same spot to secure that invaluable bonus point.

Saracens coach Mark McCall said he was relieved by that but disappointed with the display. "Your fundamentals need to be good coming to a place like this and that wasn't always the case.

"The breakdown was a bit of a mess and it stopped the flow of the game, but we came out the right side of the penalty count."

Munster F Jones (C Laulala, 66), D Howlett, K Earls, J Downey, S Zebo (I Keatley, 74), R O'Gara, C Murray, D Kilcoyne (W du Preez, 66), M Sherry (D Varley, 66), BJ Botha, Doncha O'Callaghan, D Ryan (Caffini, 69), Cattina (Giazzon, 48), Bergamasco, van Schalkwyk.

Saracens A Goode; C Ashton, O Farrell, B Barritt, C Wyles, C Hodgson (D Strettle, 58), N DeKock (R Wigglesworth, 51), R Gill (Vuinipola, 51), S Brits (J Smit, 60), M Stevens, S Borthwick, M Botha (G Kruis, 60), K Brown, W Fraser (A Saull, 65), E Joubert.

Referee Pascal Gauzère (France).

Munster

Pens: O'Gara (5)

Saracens

Pens: Farrell (3)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there