Saracens get another crack at Euro glory after Munster win

by AFP

Second-half tries from Mako Vunipola and Chris Wyles sent title-holders Saracens into the European Champions Cup final as they beat Munster 26-10 at Dublin's Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Although they led only 6-3 at half-time, Saracens - also the reigning English champions - scored 20 unanswered points in the second half before CJ Stander crossed for Munster in the last minute.

Saracens, bidding for a 'double Double' will now face the winners of Sunday's second semi-final between Clermont and Leinster in next month's Champions Cup final at Murrayfield. 

Despite Saracens spending 10 minutes down to 14 men after Jackson Wray was sin-binned, they turned around 6-3 in front after fly-half Owen Farrell kicked two penalties to one from Munster counterpart Tyler Bleyendaal.

Vunipola's converted try early in the second half gave the English giants breathing space at 13-3 and they'd already taken a grip of the game by the time replacement back Wyles went over 10 minutes from time.

Farrell, in a flawless kicking display, scored 16 points.

Saracens' starting XV featured all six of their players selected this week for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand - Farrell, Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Jamie George and Mako Vunipola.

But Munster remained without Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray, whose Lions place is at risk because of a nerve problem in his neck and shoulder.

Saturday's match saw several of Saracens' England stars back at the ground where their dreams of a second straight Grand Slam were dashed in a 13-9 defeat by Ireland last month.

In Paris Gloucester fly-half Billy Burns scored all of his team's points as the English side defeated French Top 14 league leaders La Rochelle 16-14 to reach the European Challenge Cup final on Saturday.

Gloucester will face either Stade Francais or local rivals Bath in the May 12 final in Edinburgh after sending La Rochelle to a first home defeat of the season.

"We played well during the first 40-50 minutes but missed chances to score tries," said David Humphreys, the Gloucester coach.

"In the last 25 minutes, La Rochelle came back at us but we defended with character.”