Champions Cup: Exeter Chiefs v Munster

The hosts are favourites but can under strength Munster cause an upset against Premiership leaders?

Patrick Madden Sat, Oct 13
LIVE: Champions Cup: Exeter Chiefs v Munster

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  • Good afternoon!

    Welcome to our coverage of Munster's Champions Cup clash away to the Exeter Chiefs (kick-off 3.15pm).

    Last night defending champions Leinster sent out a pretty ominous message to the rest of Europe, as they mercilessly thrashed Wasps 52-3 in Dublin.

    Today, Munster get their Heineken Champions Cup campaign underway with the more daunting proposition of a trip to face the high-flying Chiefs in deepest south-west England.

    Rob Baxter's charges have made a storming start to the English Premiership season, and sit top of the table with six wins from six. However, their recent domestic dominance is yet to translate into continental success - Europe remains the final frontier.

    No such issues for Munster, however, who always seem to play above themselves in this competition. They are without their frontline scrumhalves today, but Joey Carbery could be primed for a coming of age performance.

    For both sides this afternoon victory would be seen as a major feather in their caps - a statement to match the one made by Leinster last night.

    We'll be bringing you all the action from Sandy Park - a cracker is in store.

    Come on!!!

  • Exeter: P Dollman, J Nowell, H Slade, I Whitten, S Cordero; G Steenson (c), S Townsend; B Moon, L Cowan-Dickie, H Williams, D Dennis, S Skinner, D Ewers, D Armand, M Kvesic. Replacements: J Yeandle, A Hepburn, T Francis, O Atkins, T Lawday, J Maunder, J Simmonds, S Hill.

    Munster: M Haley; A Conway, D Goggin, R Scannell, K Earls; J Carbery, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, S Archer; J Kleyn, T Beirne; P O’Mahony (C), C Cloete, CJ Stander. Replacements: R Marshall, J Cronin, J Ryan, B Holland, T O’Donnell, N Cronin, JJ Hanrahan, S Arnold.

    Referee: J Garces (FFR).

  • In the day's early game, Toulouse have beaten Bath 22-20 at The Rec - the other fixture in Leinster's Pool 1.
  • Few players represent Munster's love affair with the Heineken Cup quite like Ronan O'Gara - by far and away the tournament's record points scorer. He has spoken to Gerry Thornley, and you can read that interview HERE.

    "I feel it would be the result of the weekend if Munster were to win over there. I think it would be absolutely huge. Exeter are highly organised. I don’t think there’s any area on the pitch that they don’t have a plan for. They’re so patient in how they play the game, and they’re a clinical side."

    No pressure, lads.

  • 15 mins until kick-off!
  • Munster's cause today isn't helped by the absence of both Conor Murray - who this week signed a new contract with the province until 2022 - and Alby Mathewson. As a result, Duncan Williams takes the number nine jersey, meaning their will be a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Joey Carbery at 10.

    However, the Munster pack looks as formidable as ever - Kleyn, Beirne, O'Mahony, Cloete and Stander. Prepare for war.

  • Carbery isn't the only Irish outhalf on the pitch today. Dungannon's Gareth Steenson will be pulling the strings for the Chiefs - he's been plying his trade in England ever since he was released by Ulster in 2006. The 34-year-old is Exeter's talisman, having travelled up with them from the second tier.
  • There's a gale blowing at Sandy Park.
  • The crowd have finished singing Sweet Caroline, and now the teams are out of the tunnel.
  • Exeter and Steenson to get us underway.


  • 1 min: Munster field the kick and Stander has an early rumble. The visitors are playing into the firece wind - Williams tries a box kick which gets caught in the breeze but falls back for Beirne. Expect plenty of up the jumper stuff from Munster in the opening 40.
  • 2 min: Exeter nine Townsend overcooks a box kick and it's easy for Haley in the backfield. He dances back at Exeter before Williams box kicks again.
  • 3 min: Good chase from Munster and they have a penalty advantage after Stander smashes Dennis. Carbery kicks for touch from just inside the Exeter half - he makes it as far as the 10.
  • 4 min: Great lineout dart from Scannell to O'Mahony. Munster maul infield before running a series of short plays. They work it left and engineer a bit of space on the left but Haley botches his ball to Goggin on the flank.
  • 6 min: Exeter turn Munster over and Slade bursts down the left - good tackle from Goggin and the visitors have the game's first scrum.
  • 8 min: After a few attempts it's a solid scrum from Munster, Williams finds Haley on the shortside. Munster retain the ball until Steenson makes a big hit on Kilcoyne and it squirts loose. Exeter scrum on the 10.
  • 9 min: Monster Munster scrum and they win the penalty. Carbery finds touch.
  • 11 min: Good Munster lineout and they have a penalty advantage. Carbery nudges it deep inside the Exeter 22.
  • 12 min: Great platform for the visitors here, and Scannell finds Beirne. They maul up towards the five before peeling off, but then Archer spills forward. Exeter clear deep into the Munster half and a great chase from Cordero forces Haley to skew a kick into touch. One mistake from Munster and it costs them about 70 metres.
  • 14 min: The lineout gives Exeter a good platform but brilliant work from O'Mahony earns his side a priceless turnover. Carbery finds halfway with the penalty. Neither side able to grab this by the scruff of the neck thus far.
  • 16 min: Good play from Munster, winning the lineout and moving it sharply, Carbery releasing Rory Scannell. Carbery then threads a cute left-footed kick into the right corner.
  • 17 min: Exeter win their lineout ball and then Townsend clears with a big kick. Again, the home chase is good and they turn it over, earning a penalty. Steenson nudges it up to the Munster 22.
  • 18 min: Good lineout ball for Exeter and they move it quicky off the top. The hosts work it right and build 10 phases before O'Mahony is penalised.

    Steenson points for goal, and makes no mistake from under the shadow of the posts.


  • 21 min: Great steal from Exeter on halfway by Cowan-Dickie and O'Mahony is then penalised again for a deliberate knock-on. Steenson finds touch but it's only just inside the Munster 10. Scrappy set piece and the visitors are reprieved with a penalty for offside.
  • 25 min: Munster turn it over on halfway and Goggin finds Sweetnam - who replaced Earls after the warm-up - in space on the left. There's plenty of red-shirted support and they batter their way into the Exeter 22, building beyond 20 phases. Carbery tries to slip a tackle on the right but is well held by Slade.
  • 27 min: 28 phases for Munster, before they are given a free-kick inside the Exeter 22.  
  • 29 min: There's a breather all round before the scrum is finally set. Great shunt from Munster and they work the openside through Stander. There's a penalty advantage coming so Carbery tries to find Conway with a snap ball to the right. Munster are on the five, but the move dies so they'll take the penalty.

    Carbey makes no mistake from under the posts.


  • 32 min: An opening for Exeter is spurned. They move it left, Munster's linespeed is ferocious, but Slade has the space to find Cordero on the left wing - his pass goes forward.
  • 35 min: Exeter put the squueze on at scrum time and earn a penalty on their 10 - Steenson finds a decent touch on the left. Cowan-Dickie hits Skinner at the front and Exeter maul. Steenson tries to find Nowell with a kick to the right and overcooks it, but the hosts had the advantage.
  • 38 min: Another big Munster scrum, Townsend looks for Cordero on the shortside. Big pressure from Exeter and they're inside the five.  
  • TRY EXETER!!!!!
  • Patient, powerful passage of play from Exeter. They keep building the phases and eventually break Munster's resistance, Cowan-Dickie twisting and touching down after a three-man pod barge over the whitewash.

    Steenson converts.


  • 39 min: Steenson is in trouble after converting. Replays show he was clattered by Conway after his kick. Garces checks upstairs but decides it was a fair attempt at a charge down by the Munster winger.
  • Update from the Challenge Cup - Connacht are leading Bordeaux 10-3 at the Sportsground after 47 mins.
  • It's now 17-3 to Connacht with half an hour to play.
  • The teams are back out for the second half - Munster now have the wind.

    We're back underway!

  • 41 min: Carbery picks out Slade with the restart, he finds a decent touch on the Exeter 10.
  • 42 min: Munster maul before Williams uses it, sharp pick up from Carbery who brings Sweetnam into play. Munster patiently building - Beirne gets them up past the 22.
  • 43 min: Munster hammering away on the 22, approaching 20 phases, but Exeter's defence is doggged and Williams plays a forward pass to Beirne.
  • 45 min: After a number of big scrums the hosts win a penalty, and celebrate like they've scored a try. Exeter on top at the set-piece.
  • 46 min: Good lineout maul from Exeter, grinding past their 10. The ball squirts out but it's seized on by a blue shirt and the hosts retain possession. There are some fierce collisions on halfway.
  • 47 min: Flanker Armand runs a good inside line and pierces through the Munster line. He offloads to Ewers who in turn shows good hands to find Kvesic. Exeter in the ascendancy, but Munster force a vital turnover - brilliant work from Beirne.  
  • 50 min: Good lineout maul from Munster and they grind beyond the Exter 10. Munster work it infield - excellent snipe from Williams to get inside the 22. This is Munster's best spell of the half - eventually play is brought back for a penalty advantage from the original maul. Carbery kicks deep into the corner.
  • 52 min: Munster maul again but there's a good counter drive from Exeter and the hosts escape with a penalty for obstruction.
  • 53 min: Exeter don't get much distance on the kick, with hooker Cowan-Dickie trying to make ground up the shortside but getting shunted into touch. Munster lineout just outside the 22 but when they try to use it the ball is pinched by Whitten.
  • 55 min: Cronin gets pinged for a high tackle on Atkins - but escapes the bin. Steenson can only reach halfway with his touch finder.
  • 56 min: Exeter keeping the ball well on halfway - but every breakdown is a serious dogfight. Munster turn it over and keep the ball alive well on the left, Haley scampering into the Exeter 22. The move breaks down on the five as O'Mahony passes to a blue jersey, but Cordero's clearance is skewed for a Munster lineout on the 22.
  • 58 min: Exeter awarded a hug penalty on the five. Their defence has been heroic thus far.
  • 60 min: Exeter break from halfway, with Cordero releasing Slade on the left. He passes back inside for Yeandle who shifts it to Dollman - he is wrapped up by a stunning last-ditch tackle by Williams. He has had a huge game - Munster scrum.
  • 61 min: Scrum penalty for Munster! Carbery finds touch on halfway.
  • 62 min: Good hanging boxkick from Williams, good chase from Conway and he wraps up Cordero. Exeter look to have cleared their lines well but Townsend's kick was from outside the 22 - good lineout platform for the visitors.
  • 64 min: Munster maul, Cronin makes a good burrowing run and Munster are up to the Exeter five. O'Donnell nearly squeezes thoguh a gap under the posts.
  • TRY MUNSTER!!!!!!!!!
  • They've finally breached the blue wall. Munster get quick ball and eventually Stander - who else? - smashes his way under and over the line. Munster have really grafted for that score.

    There was a clash of heads between Ewers and Skinner, who are both off to the blood bin.  

    Carbery converts.

    65 MIN: EXETER 10 MUNSTER 10

  • 67 min: Exeter in possession on halfway but Munster's defence is fantastic. Eventually the hosts are forced into a kick which Haley fields. Munster sends up a testing kick which O'Donnell wins on the bounce - but he's played it in touch.
  • 69 min: Dollman fields a tricky kick and calls a mark. He taps and moves it to Townsend - ref Garces gets clattered but dusts himself down pretty quickly. Exeter keeping the ball alive but Munster holding firm on halfway. Brutal stuff this.
  • 70 MIN: EXETER 10 MUNSTER 10
  • 71 min: Soft penalty conceded by Munster on halfway for not rolling away - Hanrahan the guilty party. Steenson kicks to the 10.
  • 72 min: Exeter's lineout not straight, Munster scrum.
  • 73 min: Solid Munster scrum. Outstanding kick from Carbery, stitched up to the Exeter five on the opposite side of the pitch. Real chance to put the squeeze on here.
  • 74 min: But then Munster concede a penalty at the lineout. Slade kicks to touch. Another chance to spoil wasted.
  • 76 min: A chance for Munster with a scrum on the Exeter 10. They move it to Haley who dances in from the right but then Exeter turn it over. Still, the hosts have a lot of ground to make up if they want to win this.
  • 77 MIN: EXETER 10 MUNSTER 10
  • 78 min: Exeter scrum just outside the 22. It's messy but they dig it out and use it, looking for Slade on the short side. After a few heavy phases they are awarded a penalty for offside on the 10 - Slade reaches the Munster 10 with his kick.
  • 79 min: Munster steal the Chiefs lineout! But then there's a big mistake by Carbery - he launches a kick downfield from the Munster 22 and it bounces into the Exeter ingoal and goes dead! Exeter scrum, and a golden late chance.
  • 80 min: Big Exeter scrum - they want the penalty but don't get it. The Chiefs use it left, it's now a case of patience and accuracy for both sides.
  • 82 min: 10 phases for Exeter - they're just inside the Munster 22.
  • 82 min: Whitten makes good yards until Beirne hauls him down. Exeter making slow, steady progress here.
  • 83 min: Nowell and then Ewers get Exeter up to the five. But then the ball goes forward! Munster survive!
  • Right, thanks for joining this afternoon. Johnny Watterson will be taking you through Ulster's clash with Leicester Tigers in Belfast - you can follow that HERE.