BBC Sport rugbyunion


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Sunday, 27 April 2008 14:10 UK
Heineken Cup semi-finals 2008
26-27 April, 2008


Saracens 16-18 Munster


To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Ben Dirs

80 mins: FULL-TIME Ratuvou finds some space on the left flank but is thwarted and Munster's defence is defiant. The mighty Johnson comes up with the ball and goes on a trundle, but a Saracens player is penalised for holding onto the ball and there's the final whistle - Munster through to the final, but how much more difficult was it than most expected? A cracking, stirring effort from the English side, but Munster were as bloody-minded as ever. It's the final many had hoped for - Munster v Toulouse, and it should be an absolute belter.

79 mins: Munster, with the clock ticking down, give away a penalty, leamy kicking out at Vyvyan, and Saracens will have at least one more chance.

76 mins: Powell very nearly slithers through the Munster back-line before Sorrell knocks on. However, Munster kick away the advantage. Munster get the ball back and try out some adventure, Quinlan galloping down the left flank before being dragged down on halfway. Saracens give away a penalty and O'Gara kicks into touch. Off goes De Kock, who's played a blinder, on comes Rauluni.

75 mins: Vintage Richard Hill, steeling the ball at the rear of the ruck, but Powell loses the ball in the tackle, with Jackson hanging back for the drop-goal, and Munster have the chance to relieve the pressure.

73 mins: Jackson looking very composed in the final stages and he puts a cheeky kick into touch inside the Munster 22. Here comes prop Census Johnson and we're back to 15 against 15.

71 mins: PENALTY Saracens 16-18 Munster
Saracens haven't given up hope yet and they're still coming. A few phases, but Ratuvou is pinged for a forward pass out of the tackle. Munster try to run it out of defence, but O'Leary's pass goes awry and Saracens pick up a penalty for off-side. Great kick from Jackson - will he ever kick a more important kick in Saracens colours? - from the left touchline.

66 mins: O'Gara kicks through and De Kock has to scramble back, but the Munster backline are penalised for being off-side. Munster skipper O'Connell then goes on a rumble before Howlett injects some pace, picking his spot and screaming through the Saracens back-line. However, the ex-All Black knocks on in the tackle.

65 mins: Confusion at the Ricoh. The referee wants Saracens to bring on a prop and have uncontested scrums. Visagie comes on, although it doesn't look like Saracens want him to and there is a suggestion the South African is injured...not sure why he has to come on if the scrums are uncontested...all a little strange, but he's on...wait a minute, Visagie is off again! He's picked up an injury after a minute and is off again!

62 mins: PENALTY Saracens 13-18 Munster
Vyvyan marks in front of his own posts and the lock decides to tap and go. And now Cencus Johnson is pinged for refusing to get out of the way at the breakdown and Saracens, just like that, are without a prop - it's 14 against 13 and there'll be acres of space out there for the next 10 minutes.

60 mins: It's all kicking off at the Ricoh. Lloyd takes umbrage to a hand around his throat and starts throwing some leather, connecting a couple of times. Leamy wears a few right-handers and Lloyd is sent to the bin to cool off for 10 minutes. 14 plays 14. O'Gara, however, pushes his penalty kick wide.

56 mins: PENALTY Saracens 13-15 Munster
Saracens not out of this yet. Wallace put a big munch on Johnson but the English side manage to fling the ball right. it's that man Ratuvou with the scything break through midfield, but he's pulled down just short. Saracens try the left flank, but Munster's defence is unswerving. Big hit by Mafi on Ratuvou before Tipoki is penalised for diving over the top. Another gimme for Jackson and there are just two points in it. Tipoki in the bin for 10 minutes and what a finale we have on our hands.

53 mins: Good kick and chase from Haughton, following up with a hit on O'Gara. The Saracens winger has given good account of himself today.

51 mins: De Kock puts up the garyowen and Dowling is unable to take. De Kock is then nailed by Tipoki before requiring treatment. Tough as old boots the Saracens scrum-half. Time for a bit of Fields of Athenry as O'Gara gets his hands on the ball and makes good ground with his clearance.

48 mins: Johnson on for Visagie in the front row before Wallace goes on a rampaging break for Munster. The pitch really cutting up now and there are pools appearing on the surface. Munster pinged for holding onto the ball again and Jackson is able to clear. Big work by Chesney at the breakdown, he's a Saracens hero.

45 mins: Munster come roaring back after the restart, Tipoki making a half-break. O'Connell appears to knock on at the rear of the ruck, but Munster give away a penalty and Jackson clears. It's difficult to describe how filthy the conditions are at the Ricoh Arena...saying that, we've got some sun now! Weird.

43 mins: PENALTY: Saracens 10-15 Munster
Good defence from Munster on the gain line, but O'Callaghan gives away a soft penalty directly in front of the posts. Jackson takes advantage, side-footing over the three points.

41 mins: It's coming down in stair-rods in Coventry now and there is no team that likes the wet stuff as much as Munster. When it's tipping it down, they're like pigs in the proverbial. O'Gara puts his restart straight into touch.

"BANG - try just before the whistle, there's no stopping the red machine this year." PS on 606

40 mins: TRY Saracens 7-15 Munster
Dowling and Howlett combine superbly to leave the Saracens defence stretched - Dowling steps inside his man before offloading to the former All Black, who carves into the Saracens 22. Flanker Quinlan picks up at the base of the ruck and trots over to strike a potentially lethal blow just before half-time. O'Gara converts, and Munster go in eight points up. Sterling effort from Saracens though, it's been a very close tussle.

37 mins: O'Leary swarms all over De Kock at the back of a scrum, putting in a monster hit, and Munster nick the ball. However, O'Gara is unable to find touch and Sarries come straight back at them. Great angles from Sorrell, carving through the Munster backline, but he's eventually hauled down and is pinged for holding onto the ball.

35 mins: Half-break by Vyvyan, but O'Connell drags him down, before Ratuvou bounces off a couple of tackles down the left flank. Eleven phases for Sarries before a Munster hand knocks on. A serious dogfight this, Saracens, as they did in their quarter-final with Ospreys, proving plenty of people wrong.

33 mins: Great vision from Jackson, spotting hooker Flannery where a left-wing should be and fizzing a kick into touch inside Munster's 22. Skirving off for Saracens, Ryder on.

31 mins: Crunching tackle by Leonelli on Mafi and Saracens win a penalty. A monster presence on the wing is the Argentine and he's throwing his weight around today. Jackson kicks for territory.

29 mins: Haughton tries something with ball in hands, but Dowling does well to harry him into touch. Plenty of tennis before Leonelli leaps highest and Jackson is able to find touch.

26 mins: TRY Saracens 7-8 Munster Huge, lemon-shaped lump growing out of Gustard's forehead and this is no game for the faint-hearted. Munster camped out on the Saracens line, but Sarries win one against the head and that's like gold-dust. However, De Kock is unable to get much purchase on his clearance and Munster come roaring back. O'Gara finds half a yard, sells the dummy, and gallops over from 10 yards out. Nothing Saracens's props could do about that. O'Gara, however, balloons his conversion to the right of the uprights. There is some doubt as to whether that went over - the posts aren't very tall - but the man upstairs confirms it missed by a mile.

23 mins: Horan with a big rumble and he punches a hole in the Sarries defence. Munster go left and Mafi this time very nearly finds a way through, but he should have used the overlap and is wrapped up by the Saracens defence. More relief for the English side, should have been a try for Munster.

20 mins: Action Jackson puts another hanging cross-field kick in Dowling's direction and Leonelli very nearly pouches it, but Dowling just does enough to put him off. O'Gara's kicking not much cop at the moment, giving Saracens plenty of time to counter. Flannery hits his man at the lineout and that's better from O'Gara, sending a kick deep into Saracens territory.

19 mins: Ratuvou is having a right old ding-dong with Howlett and Saracens are looking to get the ball to him at all times. Plenty of phases from Sarries, but Munster's defence holds firm. Big hit by Howlett on De Kock and the scrum-half requires treatment.

15 mins: Ambition from Saracens - Richard Hill secures the loose ball before Sorrell sends out the long pass and Ratuvou beats one man, tip-toeing down the left touchline, and his grubbers goes into touch off opposite number Howlett. However, a promising position breaks down when Gustard spills the ball.

12 mins: Saracens really scrapping for every morsel early on and Skirving holding his own in the line-out so far. However, Powell is turned in the tackle and O'Gara clears. A bit of tennis before Quinlan heads off on a marauding run, including one fine step off his right peg. Haughton getting peppered with high balls, but so far he's been equal to the task.

8 mins: PENALTY Saracens 7-3 Munster
Munster come marauding back from the restart and should have scored. After several phases, the ball is shipped left, but Tipoki's final pass is forward and Dowling's touchdown is ruled out. However, Vyvyan had already been cited for not staying on his feet and O'Gara gets Munster off the mark with a pen. Saracens, however, will be relieved with that.

5 mins: TRY Saracens 7-0 Munster
Magnificent counter-attack from Saracens. Jackon pokes through on the blind-side, Ratuvou picks up with no-one at home for Munster, De Kock flips inside to Powell, but the centre doesn't think he's got the pace and pulls up just short of the line. However, Ratuvou can't be accused of ball-watching and he picks up and dives over under the posts for a fine try. Jackson kicks the extras and we have a game on our hands.

3 mins: Jackson attempts to run the ball from his own 22 and is tap-tackled and Munster have an attacking position.

2 mins: Chesney gives away Saracens's attacking position for an elbow - "I couldn't help it sir," says Chesney, before O'Gara punts clear.

1 min: Referee Nigel Owens pings his whistle and Glen Jackson gets the game under way for Saracens. He'll be an important figure for Saracens today. Good start from Sarries, Hugh Vyvyan with a good carry and Jackson testing Howlett out with a cross-field hanger. Howlett shepherds Ratuvou into touch.

1455: Doug Howlett joining Munster was like giving a shark a missile, reckons the chap on Sky. A thought-provoking and colourful analogy, although I reckon you can do better. As expected, it's mainly red in the stands of the Ricoh and Saracens's home country draw won't really count for much today. Here come the players, and we've got a bit of a racket going on up in Coventry.

1450: Richard Hill has had praise lavished upon him in the run-up to this match. Indeed, some of his current and former team-mates have suggested he's the best England player of all time, ahead of even Martin Johnson. Saracens will need every inch of his massive experience this afternoon if they are to have any hope of upsetting Munster. Has there ever been a more unsung English sportsman? That's not a rhetorical question, you can answer me via text - 81111.

1440: Doug Howlett has been taken to the Munster bosom, and the Irish side will be looking for some flashes of genius from him today. Decent player Howlett. A very decent player indeed. Munster have played at the Ricoh Arena this season - they were pipped 24-23 by Wasps in the pool stages in November.

1425: No Chris Jack for Saracens today and how big a loss might that be - Donncha O'Callaghan and Paul O'Connell are a formidable pairing at the line-out. There is also a sense that, however industrious and however full-hearted, there is no way Saracens can pull off an upset today. But stranger things have happened, just ask Max Mosley's wife.

1420: A sell-out, apparently, at the Ricoh this afternoon, with 20,000 Munster fans expected and around 10,000 Sarries supporters. A bit of research tells me that this match will be worth more than 6m to Coventry's economy. That's a lot of rubbered Irish men and women. Here are the teams:

Munster: D Hurley; D Howlett, L Mafi, R Tipoki, I Dowling; R O'Gara, T O'Leary; M Horan, J Flannery, J Hayes; D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell (capt); A Quinlan, D Wallace, D Leamy. Replacements: F Sheahan, F Pucciariello, M O'Driscoll, D Ryan, P Stringer, P Warwick, B Murphy.

Saracens: R Haughton; F Leonelli, K Sorrell, A Powell, K Ratuvou; G Jackson, N De Kock (capt); N Lloyd, M Cairns, C Visagie, H Vyvyan, K Chesney, P Gustard, R Hill, B Skirving. Replacements: F Ongaro, C Johnston, T Ryder, D Barrell, M Rauluni, G Ross, D Scarbrough.

1400: To the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, a place steeped in rugby union history, for the second Heineken Cup semi-final between Saracens of England and Munster of Ireland. There's only one winner today - or is there? There can be no more inconsistent side in rugby than Saracens, victors over Ospreys in the quarter-finals, stuffed by Wasps and Gloucester since. But they have a very potent weapon in Richard Hill - an active legend and a man who'll be relishing his battle with the Munster back-row of Alan Quinlan, David Wallace and Denis Leamy. Savour his performance, he won't be round for much longer.

see also
London Irish 15-21 Toulouse
26 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union

related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.