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Northampton Saints come into their Heineken Champions Cup Round 2 clash with Munster Rugby on Sunday hoping to continue a strong run of form at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.
The Gallagher Premiership side may have been beaten 46-12 at reigning champions Stade Rochelais in the opening round of this season’s competition, but they have won their past five home games.
Munster come into the contest off the back of an 18-13 home defeat to Stade Toulousain and will be eager to get their campaign back on track.
The Pool B clash kicks off at 13:00 (UK & Irish time) and is available to watch on BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport and FloRugby.
Comeback o'clock ⏰ @JohnnySexton returns to the bench for @leinsterrugby, while @JakePolledri is back for @gloucesterrugby 😍 @madoshtambwe returns for @UBBrugby and @AmLukhanyo is back on @SharksRugby's bench 🔥#HeinekenChampionsCup team news ➡️ https://t.co/TAY8skUcGV pic.twitter.com/q3acalHdq6
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 15, 2022
Northampton wing Courtnall Skosan: “Franklins Gardens is one of the most amazing grounds I’ve played at, the crowd is amazing so I think it’s going to play quite a big role for us. It’s important to have the stadium filled, put on a good performance and then hopefully make our fans proud.”
Munster centre Malakai Fekitoa: “It’s going to be tough. Northampton play some good quality rugby. They play fast rugby and [there are] some great players there. We just have to focus on ourselves, sorting out our system plays and getting a connection with the guys so that when it comes to travelling there, we can rely on each other to get a result.”
- In the Gallagher Premiership, Northampton have the highest rate of gainline success (63%).
- Alex Mitchell has made the most kicks in play (106) and kicking metres (3,969) in the Premiership.
- Were the only team not to make a single clean break in Round 1.
- Mike Haley made more metres than any other player (132).
- Munster have beaten Northampton on the last four occasions that the two sides have met. They haven’t lost to Saints since October 2009.
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Gavin Coombes enjoyed a first half to remember as the Munster Rugby No.8 twice crossed the whitewash in a 17-6 win over Northampton Saints at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens in Heineken Champions Cup Pool B on Sunday.
Coombs powered over on 14 minutes before adding a second from a well-worked lineout five minutes before the interval. Joey Carbery added seven points with the boot, all in the first half.
Northampton notched two first-half penalties from the boot of Fin Smith, and dominated the entire second half but were unable to break through amid a stunning Munster defensive display.
"Hey Siri*, show me a perfectly executed set piece move"
Gavin Coombes puts @Munsterrugby further ahead with his second try of the day!
*Alexa also available… pic.twitter.com/4KYRKVNLJL
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 18, 2022
Munster dominated territory in the early stages of the contest, getting close to the Northampton line on a number of occasions.
They finally broke through with 14 minutes on the clock from a pick and go off a penalty, the ball eventually finding the hands of Coombes who rumbled over from close range.
Smith then notched two penalties, sandwiching a response from Carbery, before Coombes added his second of the afternoon through a well worked lineout – Tadgh Bernie offloading with a push pass to the on-rushing Coombes who rolled around the back of lineout, through the arms of two defenders and across the whitewash.
The second half saw Northampton dominate possession and territory – camped inside the Munster 22 for large parts of the game – but were unable to add their six points from the first half.
Through determination and perseverance, Munster survived a trio of yellow cards as Jack O’Donoghue, Craig Casey and Carbery all spent time in the sin bin, as did Lewis Ludlam for Northampton.
Casey’s yellow card away awarded via TMO when Smith lofted a cross-field ball toward James Ramm and the Northampton wing was tackled by Casey in the air as he looked to dot down in the corner.
Defensively superb, Munster held out the entire second half backed up in their own territory, securing a vital first win of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup season.
The teams will meet in the reverse fixture on Saturday, January 14 in the third round of Heineken Champions Cup action at Thomond Park.