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Champions Cup

Saracens Comeback Stuns Leinster

Saracens claimed their third European crown with a stunning win over Leinster

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Saracens won their third Champions Cup in four seasons with an incredible 20-10 comeback victory over reigning champions Leinster on Saturday evening.

The win was Leinster’s first ever defeat in a European final and ruined their chance to become the first team to claim five Champions Cup titles.

The game was a back and forth affair for the opening quarter with both teams looking to get off to the perfect start.

It was Leinster who broke the deadlock with only four minutes gone as captain Johnny Sexton knocked over a penalty.

However, it was not until just after the half-hour mark until there was another score. Following some serious pressure from the boys in blue Maro Itoje was shown a yellow card.

Within two minutes Leinster’s Tadhg Furlong, making his 100th appearance for the club, barged over to score the opening try of the match.

Sexton made no mistake with the conversion and it was 10-0 with 34 minutes on the clock.

Sarries, with only 14 men on the pitch took the game to Leinster and were rewarded on 39 minutes when Owen Farrell slotted over a penalty to make it 10-3.

As Itoje took his place back on the pitch the clock struck 40 minutes, and with Leinster in possession it looked as though they would lead going in at half-time.

That was until Luke McGrath decided to kick forward rather than put the ball into the stands and Saracens took full advantage.

They kept possession of the ball for a further three minutes, with the clock in red before some swift hands from the back-line allowed Sean Maitland to stroll over for a try in the left corner.

Farrell was perfect from the tee and suddenly it was 10-10 at the whistle.

The second-half started well for Leinster as they tried to retake the lead. A poor decision by Garry Ringrose, who chose to keep the ball instead of passing with an overlap, proved costly as they failed to take their chances.

Saracens were more clinical in attack and when Scott Fardy was sin-binned for Leinster after a number of penalty concessions near the line, the team in red struck.

Farrell landed the penalty from Fardy’s sin-binning and with only a couple of minutes left before the Australians return Saracens dealt the killer blow.

As Leinster failed to clear their lines a scrum were Saracens had a full eight man pack, to Leinster’s seven was crucial as they won their own ball and Billy Vunipola crashed over between the posts. Farrell added the extras and with only 10 minutes left it was 20-10.

Even when Fardy returned Leinster could not get near the Saracens line as the game finished 20-10 in the English champions favour.

The result means that Saracens have now become the most successful English team in the competitions history while Leinster remain with four titles of their own.

Both must now dust themselves down and prepare for the final stages of their respective domestic competitions as they fight to defend their Pro 14 and Premiership crowns.

Player Ratings:

Leinster: Rob Kearney (5), Jordan Larmour (6), Garry Ringrose (5), Robbie Henshaw (7), James Lowe (5), Johnny Sexton (7), Luke McGrath (8); Cian Healy (7), Sean Cronin (6), Tadhg Furlong (8), Devin Toner (6), James Ryan (6), Scott Fardy (6), Sean O’Brien (5), Jack Conan (7)

Replacements (5)

Saracens: Alex Goode (7), Liam Williams (7), Alex Lozowski (8), Brad Barritt (7), Sean Maitland (8), Owen Farrell (8), Ben Spencer (7); Mako Vunipola (6), Jamie George (7), Titi Lamositele (6), Will Skelton (7), George Kruis (9), Maro Itoje (7), Jackson Wray (7), Billy Vunipola (9)

Replacements (9)


Champions Cup

New Signing & Contract News

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Munster Rugby are pleased to confirm the signing of 23-year-old winger Diarmuid Kilgallen on a two-year deal ahead of the 2024/25 season.

In further contract news, hooker Eoghan Clarke has signed a one-year deal for next season after rejoining Munster in November.

Prop Keynan Knox has completed his time at the province after scoring three tries in 33 appearances and we wish him all the best for the future.

Diarmuid Kilgallen in action against Ulster in November.

Kilgallen hails from Eadestown in Kildare and has scored 12 tries in 22 appearances for Connacht to date.

He started out at Naas RFC before playing schools rugby for Cistercian College Roscrea on the Tipperary-Offaly border.

He joined the Connacht Academy in 2019 and made his debut against Munster in 2020.

A tall, athletic winger, he scored five tries in eight appearances last season and has five tries in six appearances so far this year.

Eoghan Clarke made his first start for Munster against Crusaders earlier this month.

25-year-old hooker Clarke has signed on for next year after impressing since returning to the province in November.

Clarke spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in 2021. He won the English Championship with Jersey last season but the club went into liquidation in October.

He has made five appearances for Munster since returning, including a debut against Bayonne in December and a first start against Crusaders at Páirc Uí Chaoimh earlier this month.

24-year-old tighthead prop Knox departs after over seven years at Munster Rugby.

He joined the Academy midway through the 2017/18 season after completing his second level education with Michaelhouse in South Africa.

The Young Munster clubman made his senior debut against Dragons in September 2019 and moved up to the senior squad in 2020.

Knox featured in eight games last season as Munster clinched the URC title. In total, he scored three tries in 33 Munster appearances.

We wish Keynan all the best with his next move.

Keynan Knox at training last month.

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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Champions Cup

Squad Update | Munster Prepare For Northampton

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The Munster squad started preparations on Monday ahead of Saturday’s vital Investec Champions Cup clash against Northampton at Thomond Park (5.30pm).

There are a limited number of tickets remaining here.

Find out all you need to know ahead of the match here.

There were no new injuries to report after the win over Toulon on Saturday.

Following a consultation last week, Jack O’Donoghue will not require surgery on his knee injury and will be managed conservatively by the medical department. He is unavailable for three to four months.

Oli Jager is continuing to follow the return to play protocols and his availability for the Northampton game will be determined later this week.

There is good news for Jack Daly (ankle) as he returns to training this week.

Cian Hurley (ankle/achilles) and Mike Haley (hip) are increasing their training demands and will target a return to play in the coming weeks.

Continuing to rehab: Jack O’Donoghue (knee), Dave Kilcoyne (shoulder), Diarmuid Barron (foot), Jean Kleyn (eye/knee), Liam Coombes (shoulder), RG Snyman (chest/shoulder), Roman Salanoa (knee), Mike Haley (hip), Cian Hurley (ankle/achilles).

There were eight Munster players in AIL action at the weekend.

Academy out-half Tony Butler kicked two penalties and a conversion for Young Munster as they were beaten 23-13 by Cork Constitution at Temple Hill. Chris Moore started at hooker for the Cookies.

Academy scrum-half Jack Oliver kicked two penalties and a conversion for Garryowen in their 23-10 win over UCC at the Mardyke. Colm Hogan scored a try for Garryowen with Academy prop George Hadden also featuring.

Jack O’Sullivan started at no.8 for College.

Evan O’Connell was in action for UL Bohs as they were beaten 34-7 by Old Crescent.

Video | Graham Rowntree Interview

Tickets

Champions Cup Round 4: Saturday, January 20

Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 5.30pm; Buy tickets here

Saturday, February 3

Munster Rugby v Crusaders, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 5pm; SOLD OUT

URC Round 11: Friday, March 1

Munster v Zebre Parma, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 13: Saturday, March 30

Munster v Cardiff Rugby, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 16: Saturday, May 11

Munster v Connacht, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 18: Saturday, June 1

Munster v Ulster, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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Champions Cup

All You Need To Know | RC Toulon v Munster

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Munster are away to RC Toulon this weekend in a huge Investec Champions Cup clash.

Find out all you need to know about the game below.

Our final Pool game is against the Northampton Saints at Thomond Park on Saturday, January 20, with tickets available here.

Where?

Stade Felix Mayol, Toulon

When?

3.15pm Irish time, Saturday, January 13

Munster News

Squad Update 

Gallery | This Week’s Best Training Pics

Did You Know?

This will be the first meeting of Munster and Toulon since the 2018 Champions Cup quarter-final at Thomond Park.

Munster’s last visit to Stade Felix Mayol was back in January 2011 with the French side securing a 32-16 victory to end Munster’s hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages.

A draw at home to Bayonne and a defeat in Exeter leaves Munster fifth in Pool 3 with Toulon sixth after a home loss to Exeter and away defeat to Northampton.

The top four qualify for the next round and there are two rounds of games still to play.

Remaining Pool 3 Fixtures

Kick-offs in Irish time

Round 3

Friday, Jan 12: Northampton v Bayonne, Franklin’s Gardens, 8pm;

Saturday, Jan 13: Exeter Chiefs v Glasgow Warriors, Sandy Park, 1pm;

Toulon v Munster, Stade Felix Mayol, 3.15pm;

Round 4

Friday, Jan 19: Glasgow v Toulon, Scotstoun, 8pm;

Saturday, Jan 20: Munster v Northampton, Thomond Park, 5.30pm; Buy tickets here

Sunday, Jan 21: Bayonne v Exeter Chiefs, Stade Jean Dauger, 5.30pm;

Teams

Both sides will be named at 12pm on Friday.

Match Officials

Referee: Nika Amashukeli

AR1: Saba Abulashvili

AR2: Shota Tevzadze

TMO: Ben Whitehouse

Broadcast

Live on TNT Sports, beIN Sports, France TV, FloRugby & SuperSport.

Tickets

Champions Cup Round 4: Saturday, January 20

Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 5.30pm; Buy tickets here

Saturday, February 3

Munster Rugby v Crusaders, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 5pm; SOLD OUT

URC Round 11: Friday, March 1

Munster v Zebre Parma, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 13: Saturday, March 30

Munster v Cardiff Rugby, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 16: Saturday, May 11

Munster v Connacht, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 18: Saturday, June 1

Munster v Ulster, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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