|Heineken Champions Cup Pool Four|
|Munster (10) 10|
|Tries: O’Mahony Cons: Hanrahan Pens: Hanrahan|
|Saracens (3) 3|
Munster compounded Saracens’ Champions Cup woes and remain second in Pool Four after a gritty victory at Thomond Park.
Peter O’Mahony scored the game’s only try in the first half and the score was enough to maintain Munster’s unbeaten record in this season’s competition.
A Ben Spencer penalty gave reigning champions Sarries their only points.
Saracens, who were without several England players, earned a losing bonus point and are third in the pool after two defeats.
Munster overpower depleted Saracens
The only member of England’s starting World Cup final side in Saracens’ 23 was Maro Itoje, while Munster head coach Johann van Graan fielded his strongest available team.
Owen Farrell, Mako and Billy Vunipola and Elliot Daly did not feature for Saracens, who sit bottom of the English Premiership on -18 points following their 35-point deduction.
Two-time European champions Munster piled on the pressure in the first 20 minutes, but Saracens remained solid in defence and the hosts only came away with a penalty from JJ Hanrahan.
The Irish side then looked to have claimed their first try after Mike Haley picked up a loose pass from Keith Earls, but it was disallowed because the ball had gone forward.
Munster built through the phases and eventually got their score after 30 minutes as captain O’Mahony dived through a gap to dot the ball down at full stretch.
Spencer earned a much-needed three points for Saracens after Munster conceded a penalty in front of the posts, but the scrum-half missed two other kicks at goal as he struggled in the wind.
Munster kicked the ball out as the clock went red, thinking they had sealed victory, but Arno Botha was given a last-minute red card for an earlier forearm to the throat of Nick Tompkins. The hosts stole the ball at the resulting line-out, though, and managed to bring the game to an end.
Munster travel to Allianz Park to take on Saracens, who have won three of the last four editions of the tournament, in the reverse fixture on Saturday, 14 December.
French side Racing 92 are top of Pool Four after a bonus-point win against Ospreys, who are bottom of the group.
‘Next week is a massive game’ – what they said
Man of the match and Munster number eight CJ Stander: “It was a great start to the game. The second half it was a lot colder. You have to adapt and we did well to keep them scoreless in the second half. Next week is a massive game.”
Saracens captain Brad Barritt: “Any Saracens team that goes out in Europe and loses is disappointed. But we can’t fault the effort and togetherness this team showed. We can hold our heads up high but we’ll look back and think it was a missed opportunity.”
Munster: Haley; Conway, Farrell, R Scannell, Earls; Hanrahan, Murray; Cronin, N Scannell, S Archer; Kleyn, Holland; Beirne, O’Mahony, Stander.
Replacements: O’Byrne, O’Connor, Ryan, Wycherley, O’Donoghue, McCarthy, Arnold, Botha.
Saracens: Gallagher; Segun, Lozowski, Barritt, Lewington; Manu Vunipola, Spencer; Barrington, Singleton, Lamositele, Skelton, Itoje; Isiekwe, Earl, Wray.
Replacements: Pifeleti, Carre, Ibuanokpe, Kpoku, Reffell, Whiteley, Malins, Tompkins.