Sport

Heartbreak for Munster as they exit the Champions Cup

Munster's Tadhg Beirne (centre) is tackled by Northampton Saints' Burger Odendaal. Photo: RTE

12 second half minutes were the province’s downfall as they crash out at the round of 16.

Munster have been eliminated from the Champions Cup at the round of 16 stage for the third time in four seasons following their 24-14 defeat to Northampton last Sunday.

A scoreless second half and a handful of mistakes on behalf of Graham Rowntree’s side were to blame for a disappointing early exit.

The game started at a frantic pace with both teams matching each other. Munster had the better opportunities in the first half, but handling errors cost them adding more points on the board.

In difficult conditions, Munster did well to keep the penalty count against them down but both sides went into half-time with 14 points apiece, with Mike Haley and Sean O’Brien claiming tries for Munster.

Munster started the second half by making more mistakes and giving away a handful of penalties, but Northampton couldn’t make them count.

In the final 20 minutes, the Saints finally made Munster pay when George Hendy came off the bench to score a try to give Northampton a five-point lead.

A failed Fin Smith conversion and penalty kept Munster’s hopes alive but with six minutes to play, Hendy crashed over again to make it a 10-point game with his second try.

The wind played its part as Smith missed another conversion, but he was let off the hook as their opponents were unable to muster up a threat, with the game finishing 24-14 in Northampton’s favour.

Speaking after the game, Munster head coach Graham Rowntree was full of praise for his side despite the defeat:

“We stuck in there, [it was] a proper game of rugby,

“It’s not been a straightforward week in terms of availability and illness but we rolled our sleeves up and got on with it for a big game against a great team.” he said.

The defeat could mean the end of the road for Peter O’Mahony and Simon Zebo’s Munster career who are yet to decide their future ahead of next season.

It has already been confirmed that RG Snyman and Joey Carbery will leave and there is speculation Antoine Frisch may also depart the province at the end of the season.

All eyes will focus back to the URC with Munster sitting in fourth place after 13 games as they prepare to face the Bulls on April 20th.

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