Munster 23 Northampton Saints 26: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

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Ulster 2012 and Leinster 2013 - you have now got company.

On Saturday evening, Saints added Munster 2024 to the list of incredible European away wins claimed since they stormed to the Heineken Cup final back in 2011.

Phil Dowson's men have made special memory after special memory in recent months, piecing together a sensational winning streak.

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But what they achieved at Thomond Park at the weekend was the most satisfying success yet.

With Curtis Langdon having been sent off just before the break, Saints had their backs against the wall.

Peter O'Mahony soon rubbed salt in the wounds with a try on the brink of half-time, making it 15-7 in Munster's favour.

But this Saints team never knows when it's beaten.

It never gives up.

Fin Smith was sensational for Saints at Thomond Park (picture: Claire Jones/ Smith was sensational for Saints at Thomond Park (picture: Claire Jones/
Fin Smith was sensational for Saints at Thomond Park (picture: Claire Jones/

And it always seems to find a way to win.

Many teams would have buckled in front of the fervent home fans in Limerick.

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Many teams would have felt the mountain was too steep to scale.

But not this Saints team.

They rolled up their sleeves and stuck with their hosts, even after falling 10 points down.

With the wind at their backs and in their sails, Saints applied pressure to a Munster side who, a Gavin Coombes try aside, rarely threatened in the second period.

Saints, steered expertly by England pair Alex Mitchell and Fin Smith, penned their hosts in and pushed them back.

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Smith's showing overall, but particularly in the final half an hour of this match, was one of the best you will see.

He slotted kick after kick, including a stunning drop goal, turning the tables for Saints after Ronan O'Gara broke this club's heart with a last-gasp effort back in 2011.

Smith would not let Munster off the hook at any point, and then the away pack showed its strength, putting together a maul that allowed Sam Graham to break away and score.

Suddenly, Saints led.

And it was a lead they refused to relinquish.

In fact, they never actually looked like losing from there.

Their composure under pressure was quite incredible, and their cool heads were rewarded with one of the greatest European away wins in this club's storied history.

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The superlatives are running out for a Saints side who are one of just three teams - the others are Leinster and Toulouse! - who won all four games in the pool stages.

And their reward is a home draw in the last 16, against Munster, and a home draw in the quarter-finals should they get there.

It is a stunning achievement, especially when you consider Saints had lost 10 successive Champions Cup matches prior to this campaign.

Usually they take part but really don't play a part.

But this year, they have been a leading light.

This year, Saints have started to give their supporters the kind of magic moments that were so lacking for so long.

They have become a side to believe in.

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And they are certainly a side with full belief in themselves.

How they rated…

GEORGE FURBANK - was sin-binned for a tip tackle in the first half but either side of that, the skipper was superb, constantly breaking the Munster line with electric breaks... 9

TOMMY FREEMAN - so secure in tricky conditions and showed his strength with some big carries that pushed Munster back... 9

FRASER DINGWALL - a huge defensive showing from the centre who seemed to be everywhere as he made tackle after tackle... 8.5

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RORY HUTCHINSON - stood tall for his team and when he got the chance to lead a break, he took it, making the right decisions at the right times... 8

OLLIE SLEIGHTHOLME - didn't get many chances in attack, but he made some really important contributions in defence... 7.5

FIN SMITH - CHRON STAR MAN - to go to Thomond Park at the age of just 21 and produce a performance like this is quite staggering. He bossed the final half an hour of this match, kicking superbly as he steered Saints to a sensational success... 10

ALEX MITCHELL - scored a stunning first-half try and constantly kept Munster on their toes with his typically dynamic play. Put Saints in the right areas of the field... 9.5

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ALEX WALLER - has been part of some special days during his time at Saints, and he will have enjoyed this one. Put in plenty of effort here, topping Saints' tackle count... 8

CURTIS LANGDON - had enjoyed a fantastic first half before he was shown a red card for contact with the had of Tom Ahern. Will be a big loss to Saints if he is hit with a ban... 6

TREVOR DAVISON - Munster certainly gave Saints a tough test at scrum time, but they had good moments of their own and this man had a decent enough evening... 7

TEMO MAYANAVANUA - always hungry for action, the lock helps to get the team on the front foot with his power... 7.5

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ALEX COLES - such a key presence for this Saints side as he does everything well, and his ability to stretch his legs and power forward is eye-catching... 8.5

COURTNEY LAWES - another day, another Courtney Lawes masterclass. He was so disruptive to Munster, particularly in the latter stages of the match. Won three turnovers... 9.5

TOM PEARSON - always gives Saints so much energy, steaming into tackles and refusing to relent at any point... 8.5

JUARNO AUGUSTUS - carried with real ferocity when he got the chance and this was a really promising performance from the No.8... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

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ROBBIE SMITH (for Sleightholme 47) - a couple of lineouts went awry, but aside from that, this was a really strong showing from the hooker... 7

SAM GRAHAM (for Augustus 50) - what a cameo this was! He scored what proved to be the winning try, capping a fantastic 30 minutes in which he helped to put Saints on the front foot... 8.5

ELLIOT MILLAR MILLS (for Davison 53) - had a say at scrum time, taking the fight to Munster, and this was a very good impact performance... 7.5

MANNY IYOGUN (for Waller 58) - carried with such force and looked so determined to make an impact, which he did... 7.5

ALEX MOON (for Mayanavanua 58) - his impact at maul time can't be underestimated and he was a key presence in the Saints fightback... 7.5