Champions Cup

Munster do it again! Another typical European fightback topped off by an Ian Keatley drop goal.

Patrick Madden Sat, Oct 18
LIVE: Champions Cup

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  • 12:50

    Good afternoon.

    So here we are. After all the wrangling rugby's premier club competition is back. It's revamped, new-look and no longer Heineken but it's essentially the same. The numbers have been cut from 24 to 20 and there are five pools instead of six but Europe's heavyweights are ready to slug it out once more in a bid to lift the inaugral Champions Cup at Twickenham in May.

    The action started last night as Harlequins beat Castres.The first province up is Munster who take on Sale in the day's lunch time kick off. Where else to start your latest European venture than in the dirty old town, Salford?

  • 12:53
  • 12:53
  • 12:56
    Confused about the new set-up? Read Gerry Thornley's piece about the new look competition and the provinces hopes here.
  • 13:01

    Today's Sale team are a very different proposition to the galaticos side who beat Munster on a freezing cold Friday night in 2005. The Sharks, shorn of Chabal et al, have a much more modest set up these days, but Danny Cipriani will be pulling the strings at fly half.

    The teams are on their way out of the tunnel.

  • 13:01
  • 13:04
    Ian Keatley gets us underway and Sale win an early penalty. Cipriani sends it out for a lineout which the Sharks win and work well infield. The ball is grubbered through and Munster are pinned back inside their five yard line.  
  • 13:05
    Munster win the lineout and good work from Conor Murray relieves the pressure.
  • 13:06
  • 13:09

    Sale have started very brightly here. They retain possession on the halfway line after a lineout and a beautiful flat ball from Cipriani puts through Johnny Leota on the angle and he breaks into the Munster 22. Munster knock on in the tackle and Sale win the scrum. The home side force Munster into conceding a penalty, which Cipriani will kick.

    And he converts! First blood to Sale.


  • 13:13

    Straight after Sale get on the board Munster put the pressure on. The ball is worked left and Simon Zebo breaks on the outside. He kicks and Cusiter is across to cover but his clearance is straight to a red shirt and Munster win a penalty.

    It's kicked to touch and Munster have a lineout on the Sale five yard. Munster win it and rumble forward, with Kilcoyne bullying his way over the line next to the post.

    The ref has gone to the TMO but there's no doubt, TRY FOR MUNSTER


  • 13:13

    Keatley slots a simple conversion.


  • 13:17

    That was Munster's first real attack and it resulted in seven points.  

    And they're at it again straight from the kick off. CJ Stander receives the restart and goes on a barnstorming charge through the middle. After he's finally dragged down the ball is worked left to Zebo who gets scragged by Cipriani on the touchline. The ref goes upstairs to see if it was high - but it was ok.

    Munster turn over the subsequent lineout and the pressure is straight back on, but the visitors concede a penalty giving Sale a chance to breath.

  • 13:21

    Now Sale are on the offensive after Johnny Leota breaks again. They work the ball infield and back out left again before the ball goes loose.  

    There's a break in play as the referee goes upstairs to see if there was a deliberate knock on from Felix Jones. There was, and Sale are awarded a penalty. Jones escapes the bin, however.

    Cipriani slots the penalty.


  • 13:25

    It's been a brilliant, brutal start to the game. It's been so hectic the ref, Mathieu Raynal, is down receiving treatment. The medics are on and he's being carted off the field to the delight of the home crowd.

    Laurent Cardona takes the whistle.

  • 13:25
  • 13:29

    After that interlude Keatley gets us back underway. Sale receive the drop out and send the ball into touch on the halfway. Skipper Peter O'Mahony wins the lineout and Munster move the ball right but the ball is knocked on in midfield.

    Sale are dominating the scrum and force Munster into conceding a penalty. It's just inside the Sale half but Cipriani is going to have a go...

    And he lands it!!!!!! The kick had plenty enough legs and the home side are back in front.


  • 13:35

    Sale are resurgent and pile on the pressure again after the restart. They work it both ways, racking up the phases, and force Munster into conceding another penalty for going off their feet on their own 22.

    Attacking move from Sale who choose to kick to touch from the penalty, and collect comfortably from the lineout. The home side drive and they're getting closer and closer. Sale are inches from the Munster line but the defence from the red shirts is brilliant.

    Cipriani sends a looping ball to the right touchline but again Munsters defence is good. But blue shirts pile in and eventually Magnus Lund, one of Sale's 2006 old guard and in his second stint with the club, creeps over.



  • 13:35

    Cipriani slots a difficult touchline conversion.


  • 13:39

    Munster are getting blitzed here. From the restart they concede another penalty just inside the Sale half and Cipriani pins them back into the corner.  

    Sale win the ball from Marc Jones' throw and work it infield and then back out again. The Munster defence is good again until Michael Haley slips his man and breaks deep into the 22. Sale work it left and brilliant hands in the midfield by Brady sees Johnny Leota bully his way over the line!!!!!  


  • 13:40

    Will Cipriani slot the conversion? Stupid question.


  • 13:40
    Aside from the try, Munster haven't had a sniff.
  • 13:41
  • 13:45

    Cipriani goes in high on Zebo and Munster get the penalty which they kick to touch. They work the ball infield, and it's looking good, until BOOM. Sam Tuitupou bludgeons Hurley in the midfield and the ball is turned over. Huge hit.

    Sale surge upfield and great play from Cipriani sees him break and feed Leota. Leota switches it back inside but Tommy O'Donnell brings down the blue shirt waiting for the ball.

    The ref goes upstairs and O'Donnell is sinbinned! Penalty to Sale. Munster are getting a hiding.


  • 13:47
    Sale work the ball right, with Cipriani at the centre of everything. The ball comes back left and he chips for Lund in the corner. The kick hasn't got quite enough on it and Keatley catches brilliantly, calling for the mark in the process.
  • 13:52

    Munster finally get some ball and Zebo grubbers through for Felix Jones to chase but the ball bounces into touch. Sale take it quickly and Cipriani boots it upfield. Munster's clearing kick goes straight into touch but the visitors pinch the lineout.

    It isn't going right for Munster though, and the ball goes forward out on the right giving Sale the scrum.  

    Sale's dominance at the scrum comes to an end though, with Roberts conceding a penalty. The ref blows for half time straight after.


  • 13:53

    Wow. Sale and Cipriani blew Munster away in the opening 40. A huge half coming up for the men in red.

    See you shortly.

  • 14:08
    Cipriani gets us back underway.
  • 14:12

    Sale win a scrum in the middle of the park and despite a great Munster drive they win the ball, and Cusiter sneaks round the back and sets off another threatening move. Leota breaks the line on the right handside and is heading for the line but gets brilliantly held up. Sale move it left but a rare careless moment by Cipriani sees Munster intercept in midfield.

    It's been an electrifying start to the second half from Sale, Munster still well and truly under the cosh.

  • 14:13
  • 14:14
    Munster back to 15, and there's a change of personnel in the front row.
  • 14:22

    Munster rally slightly and exert a bit of rare pressure on the home side. There's a break in play while try scorer Lund receives treatment and from a scrum Sale, deep inside their own half, look to run it. Tuitupou looks to break the line but the ball goes forward and Munster win a scrum dead centre and in opposition territory.

    But they can't capitalise and Sale win the ball back, prompting a huge roar from the crowd. Sale play it quickly and march forward, but the visitors win it back and break on the outside. Sale mop up but Munster enjoy sustained pressure. This is just what the visitors need, a bit of time on the ball. They're pressing hard and beginning to dictate the tempo but the host's defence is resolute.

  • 14:22
    Lee Wayne Meat pie, sausage roll, come on Sale give us a drop goal!
  • 14:27

    Sustained pressure leads to a Munster scrum, and the visitors force Sale into conceding a penalty. Keatley kicks for the corner and Munster win the ball.

    The expected rumble doesn't come however and Munster work the ball left. It comes to Felix Jones on the right, after a huge tackle from Tuitupou on Stander under the posts, who looks for Conway but the winger gets scragged. The ref brings the ball back for a penalty under the posts and Munster work it back to the right anf to Conway again who wriggles over the line!!!


  • 14:28

    Keatley converts.

    SALE 23 MUNSTER 14

  • 14:28
  • 14:32

    20 minutes to go and the red tide is rising. Munster are exerting relentless pressure on Sale, it looks like it's only a matter of time.

    Munster take a quick penalty and after rattling through the phases Conor Murray sneaks over on the left! But Brady may have got underneath him and the ball.

    It's up to the TMO....

  • 14:33
    NO TRY!
  • 14:33
    Fantastic work from Tom Brady to hold Murray up there.
  • 14:33
  • 14:38

    From the five metre Munster turn the screw again. It's relentless from the visitors, moving the ball right and pummeling a tiring Sale defence.

    Murray gets the ball on the right and he makes no mistake this time, forcing his way over!  


  • 14:38

    Keatley sinks the conversion and Munster are back within two!

    SALE 23 MUNSTER 21

  • 14:41

    After being under the cosh for much of the second half Sale get a bit of respite, pinning Munster back in their own half with a line out inside the 22. Sale rumbled forward and the ball comes to Cipriani, who chops a brilliant kick wide, which can't quite be gathered.

    The ball goes loose but the ref brings it back fo a Sale penalty, which Cipriani stands over.

    And he slots it!  

    SALE 26 MUNSTER 21

  • 14:44

    The wind is starting to come into play in Salford. Cusiter box kicks clear but the ball drifts back ten yards, and the runner Haley was ahead of it when it came off the srcum half's boot.

    Penalty to Munster, and Zebo has to put his finger on the ball to stop it falling off the tee. Keatley isn't fazed however and slots for three points!

    SALE 26 MUNSTER 24


  • 14:45
    Sale press but Cusiter knocks on at the breakdown. A bit of fisticuffs follow, this is getting tense.
  • 14:45
  • 14:49

    Munster have the lineout on halfway and win the ball. Zebo takes a reverse ball from Murray and bursts through, but Sale get the penalty. Cipriani kicks for the corner and the hosts get some vital territory.

    But then Munster win it back and have a scrum just outside their own 22. They've got three minutes to find three points.

  • 14:51

    A brilliant kick puts Sale back into their 22, but they win the lineout well.

    Sale keep the ball in the maul, despite the best efforts of Paul O'Connell. It gets nervy for Sale though, and Cipriani can only manage a hacked kick which dribbles out on the far side. There's a break in play as Munster prepare for a final onslaught.

  • 14:54

    Munster gather from the lineout and rumble forward. They're on the 22 and within drop goal range.

    The maul finally breaks and the ball comes back to Keatley but he's on his left foot and decides against the drop goal. The 80 minutes are up, and Sale are driving Munster back!

    It gets worked left and Zebo breaks, with Jones collecting on his outside. It comes back infield and Keatley gets it deep, DROPGOAL!!!!!!

  • 14:54
  • 14:54
    SALE 26 MUNSTER 27
  • 14:55
  • 14:58
  • 15:01

    Heartbreak for Sale but that was Munster at their belligerent best.

    The hosts blitzed Munster in the first half and came out all guns blazing in the second, but as soon as the red shirts started to flood forward there was an air of inevitability about the turn around.

    They left it late, but Munster are off to a winning start in the pool of death. Sale's chances of escaping are slim at best.

  • 15:02
    CJ Stander gets man of the match.
  • 15:03
  • 15:05

    Phew, that was a breathless start. There's more to come, as Ulster head to Welford Road to face Leicester tonight.

    Thanks for joining, and enjoy the rest of the action this weekend.