European rugby was back in full swing at the weekend as the opening round of the European Rugby Champions Cup (formerly Heineken Cup) got under way. Munster’s 27-26 win at the death was the finish of the round on another fascinating day of the competition.
Flyhalf Ian Keatley channeled Ronan O’Gara as Munster came from behind to pull off a thrilling victory in Manchester with time up on the clock. The last ditch drop goal shattered hopes of an upset win for Sale, who had played so well to lead 23-7 at the break.
Munster bounced back well though and tries by Andrew Conway and Conor Murray got them close enough for Keatley to kick them to a dramatic victory, one O’Gara himself was proud of.
“I watched Munster go through the phases and when Zebo made that little break, I thought, ‘this is on now, do it’,” said the former Munster ten, who watched from his hotel room in Paris.
“When you’re not at the venue you don’t get a full appreciation of the conditions. I knew there was a strong wind and it appeared to be blowing straight down the pitch. People think that a shot from straight in front of the posts is easier but it’s not the case, from a technical perspective.
“I watched Keats’ body language. He knew instantly that he had nailed it. He set it out a tiny bit to the right and basically black-dotted it. Instinct takes over in those situations. You can hit an awful lot of balls in practice but you can’t replicate the pressure of a moment like that.
O’Gara praised the flyhalf’s decision making under such pressure, after choosing to wait for a better chance rather than take the first on offer.
“There’s an element of stupidity in taking on a kick where the chance of success is tiny and everything rides on the outcome. He showed experience, composure and trust in his team-mates that they could work another opportunity.
“It was a wonderful moment for him personally and the team. I’m delighted for him and it’s something he’ll take forward to other matches,” he added.
Match highlights are below and we’ll feature more best bits from the tournament this week