Heineken Cup: Saracens take charge of Pool 1 with win over Munster
Last Updated: 17/12/12 7:40am
Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth spins out a pass
Saracens moved to the top of Heineken Cup Pool 1 after battling their way to a 19-13 victory over Munster at Vicarage Road.
Sarries' dominance up front for long periods of a gritty contest just about earned them the verdict, although Munster had their chances to take more than one point back home to Limerick.
Owen Farrell missed an early drop goal attempt but Steve Borthwick won a penalty from the re-start and Farrell kicked the three points from 45 metres.
Ronan O'Gara's clever chip almost created an early chance for Simon Zebo and the veteran fly-half levelled the scores on 15 minutes, moments after missing a straightforward penalty.
On 20 minutes Sarries had the try their early pressure deserved, Richard Wigglesworth sliding through a beautifully weighted kick and with no cover behind a flat defensive line, winger David Strettle raced in to touch down. Farrell converted and Saracens led 10-3.
But five minutes later Munster were level almost from nowhere, as a sloppy pass in midfield from Farrell was intercepted by James Downey, who delayed his offload perfectly to send Doug Howlett in, with O'Gara converting to level the scores.
Farrell missed a straightforward chance to edge Saracens ahead just before the half and then wasted an even easier chance after the resumption.
Saracens had no reward for dominating 80 per cent of possession in the opening 10 minutes and O'Gara made them pay when Chris Ashton was caught in possession.
But Farrell did find his range with two penalties around the hour mark as the lead changed hands again, before Will Fraser was yellow carded for a high shot on Doug Howlett.
Munster attempted to turn the screw but after 24 phases of pressure around the Saracens 22, O'Gara was wide with drop goal attempt.
Worse was to follow for the Munster No 10 as he dragged a simple penalty wide that would have levelled the scores. After aggressive Saracens defence won a penalty in the Munster half, Farrell stretched the lead and Saracens were able to hold on to it for the final five minutes.