Expansive Saracens overcome valiant Munster for final spot

A record-equalling 17th European Champions Cup match without defeat against Munster put Saracens one match away from retaining the title.

Saracens booked their place in the European Champions Cup final with an expansive second-half showing that earned a 26-10 victory over Munster in an attritional semi-final on Saturday.

The defending champions came under heavy pressure during the first period but improved after the break, with tries from Mako Vunipola and Chris Wyles - back from a three-month spell on the sidelines - putting them one match away from retaining the title.

Saracens are now undefeated in 17 matches in the competition, matching the record set by Leinster between 2010 and 2012. The Irish province will be the Premiership side's opponents in next month's Edinburgh final if they beat Clermont Auvergne in the other last-four clash on Sunday.

Owen Farrell kicked for 16 points to help see off the Munster, the fly-half – one of six Sarances players named in the British and Irish Lions squad – benefiting from expert scrummaging to keep the score ticking over from the tee.

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus called on his players to honour the memory of head coach Anthony Foley, who died in October prior to their pool-stage fixture against Racing 92, and they produced a valiant display in the absence of Lions scrum-half Conor Murray at an Aviva Stadium awash with red.

However, they were unable to avoid defeat, with Saracens proving too good.

Munster took a seventh-minute lead through Tyler Bleyendaal's penalty but were fortunate not to fall behind when Richard Wigglesworth failed to hold Sean Maitland's inside pass.

Farrell levelled things up in the 17th minute, taking his tally for the competition to 100 points, in a gritty half in which both sides relied heavily upon their respective kicking games.

Referee Roman Poite opted against showing Maitland a yellow card for tackling Andrew Conway in the air, but he did send Jackson Wray to the sin bin for a high shot on Duncan Williams.

Munster used their extra man to dominate possession and pen Saracens inside their own half but were unable to break through, with Farrell slotting his second three-pointer between the posts after the defending champions were restored to their full complement.

More shoddy handling cost Saracens when Chris Ashton spilled Alex Goode's pass after a sweeping move from left to right, while George Kruis was unable to keep possession when stretching for the line beneath the posts – a tackle from Munster replacement Jean Deysel just moments after coming on saving what would have been a sure try.

After Peter O'Mahony went off for a head injury assessment from which he did not return, Munster's resistance was finally broken in the 55th minute when Vunipola charged at Keith Earls and powered over the whitewash.

Bleyendaal skewed a penalty across the posts and failed with a drop-goal attempt either side of a successful three-pointer from Farrell, and the fly-half was key to putting the game beyond doubt.

Farrell's grubber-kick to the left was not collected by Simon Zebo, and Wyles took full advantage to get the ball to ground.

Munster got on the board when the returning CJ stander barged in at the death, but it is Saracens who will feature in Edinburgh next month.

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