Ian Keatley’s last-gasp drop goal handed Munster the unlikeliest of wins, 27-26 at Sale to make a dream start to the Champions Cup.
Ian Keatley’s last-gasp drop goal handed Munster the unlikeliest of wins, 27-26 away at Sale to make a dream start to the Champions Cup.
Munster were favourites in the lead up to kick-off but it was Sale that got out of the blocks quickest with Danny Cipriani earning the hosts a three-point lead.
Munster scored and converted the opening try of the match but the Sharks weren’t about lie down and submit, scoring two successive penalties and then two successive tries to really put Munster on the back foot.
Sale hurt Munster with their clinical finishing capitalising on almost every opportunity they were given to finish the first half at 23-7.
After a tongue lashing from boss Anthony Foley, Munster stood strong against some early Sale pressure to get a foothold in the second half.
Munster got two tries back and the two kickers traded penalties before Keatley stole the win with a drop-kick on 80 minutes.
Sale will be heartbroken after the promise of their first-half triumph, the out of form team physically and tactically taking the game to the visitors and gaining a commanding lead.
Cipriani opened the scoring with a simple enough kick to put the home team ahead by three but not for long.
Kilcoyne crossed the line after some good driving from the Munster forwards, Keatley converted easily to put the visitors 3-7 in front.
Cipriani stole three points back after slotting a penalty, referee Mathieu Raynal was replaced by Laurent Cardona after colliding with Michael Paterson.
Following the exit of Raynal, Sale looked a different team after being dominated in the opening ten minutes. Cipriani managed to convert a penalty from 52 metres to make it 9-7.
Sale piled the pressure on Munster and got their rewards as Magnus Lund burrowed over the line to score and Cipriani converted putting the home team 16-7 in front.
Johnny Leota had been causing Munster problems and managed to turn his efforts into a try on 29 minutes after Sale showed some neat hands before Leota turned his man inside-out and drove for the line.
Cipriani continued to impress slotting another kick to make it 23-7 Munster looked shell-shocked and might of conceded another try if O’Donnell hadn’t brought down Cusiter before he received the ball in the 22, O’Donnell was shown yellow capping of Munster’s poor half.
Munster looked a different team after the break, with Andrew Conway crossing over after 50 minutes, Keatley knocked over the conversion to make it 23-14.
Murray crossed the line for Munster only to be held up on 61 minutes but managed to get the ball down two minutes later and Keatley converted again to make it 23-21.
The two sides traded penalties to make it 26-24, but in a last ditch piece of magic from the Irish team Keatley scored a drop-goal on 80 minutes to steal victory for Munster.
Tries: Lund, Leota
Cons: Cipriani 2
Pens: Cipriani 4
Tries: Kilcoyne, Conway, Murray
Cons: Keatley 3
Drop Goal: Keatley
Yellow Card: O’Donnell
Sale: 15 Michael Haley, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Tom Arscott, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 Mark Easter 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Magnus Lund, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Jon Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts
Replacements: 16 Shalva Mamukashvili, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Alberto de Marchi, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Josh Beaumont, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mark Jennings
Munster: Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Dave Foley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 James Cronin, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Gerhard van den Heever
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Laurent Cardona (France), Thomas D