Saracens 33 Munster 10: Anthony Foley frustrated by errors
Munster head coach annoyed at manner of performance as the Irish province exit the European Champions Cup at the pool stages
Anthony Foley was left frustrated as he saw his Munster side fail to perform and exit the European Champions Cup in the pool stages.
The Irish province put in an error-strewn performance that gifted Saracens a comfortable ride to a 33-10 win at Allianz Park.
That was a team that could have reached the knock-out stages and we didn’t produce that. It is very frustrating and very annoying to be out of the tournament so early.
A third successive defeat in Europe for the first time means the Munstermen are almost certainly out of the competition ahead of this afternoon’s match between Sale Sharks and Clermont Auvergne.
It caps a disappointing European campaign which also saw back-to-back defeats to Clermont in December and a narrow win over Sale Sharks in the opening round, which needed a drop-goal at the death.
First half tries for Saracens wingers Chris Wyles and Chris Ashton as well as three penalty goals from the boot of England outside-half Chris Ashton gave Saracens a 23-3 lead at the break.
Ashton added a second try in the second half before Denis Hurley got one back for Munster, but the real damage came in the opening 40 minutes as the Irish province’s passing and work at the breakdown came unstuck against the Wolfpack.
“We came here to win the game and came here to put in a good performance,” Foley said.
“That was a team that could have reached the knock-out stages and we didn’t produce that.
“It is very frustrating and very annoying to be out of the tournament so early.”
England number eight Billy Vunipola was imperious in attack and defence on his way to the man of the match and seemed to be everywhere for the home side, while Munster lock Paul O’Connell was among a number of players who struggled with accuracy in the contest.
We made a lot of errors, especially in our passing, and from that they got big moments in the game. Their tries came from mistakes, which is frustrating and hard to take.
The loss of flanker CJ Stander was another first-half disappointment, but it was a team performance that lacked Munster’s usual European class against last year’s Heineken Cup finalists, who produced one of their best collective performances this season.
While Munster and Sale will contest a meaningless game in Limerick next week, Saracens must travel to the notoriously difficult Stade Marcel-Michelin to take on Clermont for a place in the quarter-finals for a fifth successive season.
A defeat in Clermont wouldn’t be the end of the world for Saracens, who could qualify as one of the three best runners-up.
For Munster, Foley believes the club will have to examine the defeat and move forward as they are left to challenge for a top two place in the Guinness PRO12.
“We’ve got Sale next week at Thomond Park and it is important we put this defeat to bed in the week and turn up in front of our home fans and give them a performance that everyone can buy into,” Foley added.
“We weren’t allowed to play our usual game. Saracens came out and dominated the big areas — ball carrying, the ruck area and the scrums.
“We were dropping passes, we were passing the ball to fresh air.
“There is a lot of character in the team and a lot of good players. It is just unfortunate that we played like we did today.”