Following one of the most hotly contested last 16 knock-out battles of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup, Exeter travelled to Limerick to take on Munster.
Exeter arrived with a five-point cushion courtesy of their hard fought 13 – 8 win in the first leg of the tie. This margin however was always going to considered low when taking into account Munster’s impeccable Champions Cup home record.
The first forty minutes played out to script with a cagey and at times fiery battle taking place in particular around the breakdown. The home side went into the break with a 13 – 5 lead but most crucially the aggregate score remained very much in play with Munster leading 21 – 18.
As the camera panned around a packed Thomond Park there was the noticeable figure of Exeter legend Jack Nowell sitting in the stands. Nowell who is out with an arm injury was caught sipping on a pint wearing a Munster jersey! As the commentators were quick to point out he wasn’t Munster latest signing but rather on his stag do!
Is that… no it can’t be… IT IS 😱@nowellsy15 in a Munster shirt, pint in hand 😂
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 16, 2022
Exeter got the better of the early exchanges of the second half, crucially for Munster however Joey Carbey replied quickly to re-establish a tight one-point aggregate lead.
From here Munster appeared to become more settled with star of the match Peter O’Mahony continually proving to be a point of difference as he regurly disrupted Exeter’s ruck and line-out ball.
It would be a moment of magic from Simon Zebo that would essentially end the contest. Screaming for the ball out wide Zebo received a scrappy pass from Springbok centre Damian De Allende. From here the magician went to work, starting with some excellent footwork before throwing a ridiculous offload that few players would even consider throwing.
As De Allende crashed over, Munster once again reminded everyone just how much of a fortress Thomond Park remains.
The southern province now lay in wait for either Ulster or defending champions Toulouse depending on how their fixture at The Kingspand stadium plays out. Ulster come into the clash with a useful six point lead following their incredible win away from home in the first leg.