Munster 10 - 26 Saracens: Sarries on the way to Edinburgh
The champions will defend their crown in Edinburgh on 13 May against either Clermont or Leinster, who meet today, as their quest to repeat last season’s European and Aviva Premiership double edges closer to reality
Munster dominated the first half yet trailed 6-3 at the interval and from the moment play resumed they were squeezed out of contention by their opponents’ ability to soak up endless pressure.
Mako Vunipola’s 54th-minute try was the pivotal act that put Saracens two scores ahead and from that moment it was a procession punctuated by the occasional feverish attack from the Irish.
Replacement wing Chris Wyles added a second try and through Owen Farrell kicking 16 points in an immaculate afternoon from the tee, equalled Leinster’s 16-match unbeaten European record.
Missing their half-back general Conor Murray to a shoulder-related nerve injury, Munster’s challenge wilted as the emotion over the death of their coach Anthony Foley earlier in the season proved insufficient to subdue ruthless Saracens.
To reach the final they knew they must weather the Munster storm and it duly arrived right from the kick off, Billy Vunipola driven backwards before their scrum was picked apart twice in quick succession.
Despite the pressure Munster could not force a path over the line, but that is what Saracens should have done in their first meaningful attack when quick hands created a brilliant chance only for Richard Wigglesworth to drop an awkward final pass from Sean Maitland. Farrell cancelled out a penalty from Tyler Bleyendaal and Maitland escaped a yellow card for taking Andrew Conway out in mid-air. Jackson Wray was not so fortunate when his arm struck Duncan Williams’ head in the tackle and 14-man Saracens scrambled frantically.
Wray returned from the sin-bin – Saracens had not conceded a point in his absence – and after Farrell had craftily ankle-tapped Bleyendaal the England playmaker landed his second penalty.
Remarkably given the territorial pressure they had come under, Saracens entered the interval 6-3 ahead and they emerged for the second half as the more purposeful team.
Now it was Munster’s turn to be pinned back. The balance of power had shifted and there was an inevitability about the try when it came, Vunipola driven over from a line-out as Munster’s defence finally cracked.
A poor missed penalty from Bleyendaal hit the home side as they sought to respond and when Farrell showed him how it was done the lead was extended to 16-3.
And it was all over when Wyles grabbed Farrell’s kick to touch down as Munster’s defence became increasingly ragged, CJ Stander’s late try from short range offering little consolation.