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PREVIEW: Munster and Sale look for positives

Thursday 22nd January 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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La campagne européenne s'achève tristement pour le Munster et les Sharks de Sale

La campagne européenne s'achève tristement pour le Munster et les Sharks de Sale

The curtain comes down on desperately disappointing Champions Cup campaigns for these two clubs.

The curtain comes down on desperately disappointing Champions Cup campaigns for these two clubs.
For only the second time in 17 years Munster will not feature in the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier cup competition but they will be aiming to restore some pride in round six.
Their 33-10 loss to Saracens last weekend – their heaviest defeat in Europe since 1996 – has left the Irish giant battered and bruised and in the unenviable position of having nothing left to play for going into the final weekend of fixtures.
Munster coach Anthony Foley admits it’s been a tough wake-up call for the two-time Heineken Cup winners.
“It’s been a very long few days, a very dark few days,” said Foley. “We’re all gutted, shattered, whatever word you want to use. We need to deal with that ourselves.
“I’ve been through this, been through it as a player, been despondent as a player, been a part of it as a coach as well. It’s hard. People will question you. People will ask why it is happening because they don’t expect it.
“At the weekend they would have expected us to go and beat Saracens over there and then get five points against Sale this weekend, be on 19 points and get out of the group.
“But unfortunately the damage was done against Clermont in the home game. We’re all in this together. We’re not shying away from anything. We understand the position we are in. We take the good days and we also share the bad days.”
They face a Sale side who have shown plenty of determination in this year’s competition but facing the possibility of six straight defeats in pool one unless they can get a result at Thomond Park.
Five defeats don’t tell the whole story after narrow losses against Saracens, Munster and Clermont and Sale coach Steve Diamond is keen to get back into the competition next season.
Diamond said: “We are pushing in the top six of the Premiership and the goal for us now is to qualify for this top European competition again.”
Match Facts

  • Munster have won four in a row against Sale, with their two home matches in this run both resulting in points margins of over 20 points.
  • Sale Sharks have lost nine of their last 10 away games; these losses have come by an average margin of 22 points.
  • Munster suffered defeat in their most recent home game in the tournament, however they won all eight home games before that by an average margin of 22 points.
  • Sale Sharks’ Danny Cipriani has the best kick success rate (92%) of any player to attempt 10+ kicks at goal in the Champions Cup this season.


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REPORT: Nine try Munster sweep aside Sale

Sunday 25th January 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Journée 6 de l'European Rugby Champions Cup

Journée 6 de l'European Rugby Champions Cup

Munster ended their European Rugby Champions Cup campaign on a high with a 65-10 thumping of Sale Sharks at Thomond Park.

The floodgates opened after a tight first-half and the Munstermen scored eight tries to claim a five-point victory and cement their third place finish in Pool One.

It took less than two minutes for Munster to flex their European muscles as Simon Zebo crashed over. Ronan O’Mahony burst down his left flank before Ian Keatley spread the ball wide to Zebo, who wrestled his way past the covering defence to score.

Keatley converted two penalties to Nick McLeod’s one before the Sharks bit back. Left-wing Tom Arscott  took the ball in midfield and dummied his way past Andrew Conway before he brushed aside Keatley on his way to score.

Andrew Conway was sent to the sin-bin moments later as Munster struggled to stem the Sale pressure, but they survived the onslaught to take a 13-10 lead in at the break.

Munster started the second-half just like the first with a magic moment from Keith Earls on his return from injury. The Ireland centre showed no signs of his four month lay-off when he latched onto Ivan Dineen’s pass to slice through the defence and run 60 metres to score.

And they turned the screw ten minutes later. The hosts decimated the Sale scrum from five metres out and Peter O’Mahoney crashed over, but referee Marius Mitrea had already blown for a penalty try.

Replacement centre Howard wrapped up the bonus-point after 65 minutes after latching onto Keatley’s inside pass. The Munstermen ended all hope of a Sale comeback with another two tries in as many minutes.

Zebo wriggled over at the corner after a Dineen break before turning provider to Conway, who sprinted over after Zebo broke downfield.  O’Donnell secured the seventh before Duncan Williams and Conway went over to complete the 65-10 route.

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