|European Champions Cup semi-final: Saracens v Munster|
|Saracens: (12) 32|
|Tries: Rhodes, B Vunipola; Pens: Farrell 6; Cons: Farrell 2|
|Munster: (9) 16|
|Try: Sweetnam; Pens: Bleyendaal 2, Murray; Con: Hanrahan|
Billy Vunipola scored a late try, was named man of the match and was briefly confronted by a Munster fan as Saracens powered into the Champions Cup final.
Vunipola, who was booed throughout, sealed a deserved victory for Sarries.
It came in a week he was warned by English rugby bosses for defending Israel Folau’s social media post in which he said “hell awaits” gay people.
Vunipola added to Michael Rhodes’ try for Sarries in Coventry, with Owen Farrell kicking 22 points.
That ensured Darren Sweetnam’s score for Munster was in vain, and carried the two-time champions to their fourth final in six seasons.
Mark McCall’s side will face either Leinster or Toulouse, who meet on Sunday, at Newcastle’s St James’ Park on 11 May.
Vunipola’s 10 days in the headlines
Vunipola said after the game he was “determined” to show he had not been distracted by a 10-day period in which he:
Farrell edges first-half kicking battle
In a first half devoid of tries, opposing fly-halves Farrell and Tyler Bleyendaal – who had come in for Joey Carbery – were to the fore.
Farrell was first to strike, after Saracens scrum-half Ben Spencer had forced two early knock-ons, but Bleyendaal evened things up after Sarries were penalised at the breakdown.
Controversy surrounded Farrell’s second penalty, with Munster fans feeling full-back Mike Haley had been tackled in the air, but the England international made it 9-3 as his side looked to take control.
Bleyendaal reduced the lead to three, though, and Conor Murray levelled things up before another Farrell penalty took Sarries into the break in front.
Sarries’ class shows after break
Saracens had created several attacking opportunities in the first half, but were unable to penetrate Munster’s defence.
That was, perhaps, no surprise given Sarries had scored the most tries per game – and Munster conceded the fewest per game – in this season’s competition.
But things clicked for McCall’s side after the break, as Alex Goode’s brilliant pass to Titi Lamositele on the left wing created space for Rhodes to burst over.
After Farrell’s conversion and two more penalties, Munster faced a 16-point deficit.
But some quick thinking from Murray brought them back into the game. He grabbed the ball at the base of a Saracens scrum on their own five-metre line and when it was worked wide Sweetnam went over.
The last word went to Vunipola – who was booed almost every time he touched the ball – as he barrelled over from close range, celebrating his try by slapping the Saracens badge on his chest.