Heineken Cup rugby has delivered once again as the first round of matches have had fans on the edge of their seats all around Europe, none more so than in the Munster vs Northampton thriller on Saturday night. Munster were trailing with time up, before Ronan O’Gara pulled the trigger.
Saints looked like they were on their way to a well deserved away win as they tackled everything in sight in those final few minutes, actually driving Munster back on more than one occasion. The home side kept at it though, keeping possesion for over five minutes and 40 phases, all the time confident in the knowledge that they had O’Gara patiently waiting for the right moment.
When it came, following another great surge of momentum from Doug Howlett – who scored a wonderful try earlier in the match – O’Gara took the chance without a sniff.
“It was something special. The belief in the group, the way they stuck at it for 80 minutes, a lesser side would maybe not even have been in the contest,” said coach Tony McGahan.
“Ronan O’Gara’s kick at the end, he’s a special person to do that, to show the bottle to put his hand up and make the kick. This felt like a Round Six encounter during the week when it actually was an opening-round game. This competition is like six Test matches and we are approaching it in that fashion. The win gives us a great buzz,” he added.
Saints fans weren’t too pleased with the refereeing of Nigel Owens, who has had a rough few months. Northampton coach Jim Mallinder said he was disappointed with some of the calls.
“I think the game did hinge on some crucial refereeing decisions. I felt the referee got quite a lot wrong. I think it is as simple as that. It is difficult. It is an intimidating place to play with a cracking atmosphere.
“Sometimes you don’t always get the rub of the green and I think we will look back and probably say we did not quite get it. The mood in the dressing room is low. The feeling is one of frustration.”
Below are the final few minutes, including all of 41 phases, and then the winning kick.
Please Note: Clips from the rest of the weekend’s matches will be posted over the next few days