European Rugby Champions Cup: Munster snatch win at Sale
|Sale (23) 26|
|Tries: Lund, Leota Cons: Cipriani 2 Pens: Cipriani 4|
|Munster (7) 27|
|Tries: Kilcoyne, Conway, Murray Cons: Keatley 3 Pen: Keatley Drop: Keatley|
Munster's Ian Keatley landed a match-winning drop-goal to snatch a win from Sale in the European Champions Cup.
Helped by tries from flanker Magnus Lund and centre Johnny Leota, Sale had stormed into a 23-7 half-time lead.
Munster, who got the first try through prop Dave Kilcoyne, fought back with winger Andrew Conway and scrum-half Conor Murray crossing the line.
The Irish province trailed by two as the 80-minute mark passed, before fly-half Keatley got the vital points.
His opposite number Danny Cipriani kicked 16 points for the 250-1 tournament outsiders.
Sale, struggling in the English Premiership with four defeats in their opening six fixtures, produced a blistering first-half performance.
Cipriani kicked them ahead after Munster tight-head Stephen Archer was penalised at the scrum.
Munster quickly hit back with Kilcoyne's 10th-minute try and Keatley landed the simple conversion but it was to be the visitors' last score of the half.
Cipriani landed a penalty either side of referee Mathieu Raynal having to be helped off with a knee injury to give Sale a 9-7 lead.
Back-row Lund then squeezed the ball over in the other corner on 25 minutes after a sustained spell of Sale pressure.
They got another try four minutes later as a fine passing move set up Leota and there was no stopping the Samoan centre. Cipriani again added the extra two points.
But Sale's resilience was finally broken when Conway scored Munster's second try in the 56th minute.
Murray then dived over after two attacks had been held up just short of the line. Keatley's conversion hit the far post but crucially fell over to leave Munster just 23-21 down.
Cipriani maintained his 100% place kicking record with a fourth penalty for Sale's only points of the second half.
However, an offside gave Keatley the chance to score a penalty and restore the two-point deficit before setting the stage for the decisive drop-goal with the last kick of the match.
Sale Director of Rugby Steve Diamond:
"To get into the competition was a must for a lot of the players who joined us last year. To compete at the highest level against sides like Munster is a privilege.
"Cipriani was outstanding today, his goal kicking was impeccable and his decision making was fantastic, let's hope the England selectors pick him.
"We need to be putting in performances like that week in, week out, and sides won't want to come here."
Munster coach Anthony Foley:
"We didn't need to make it as big an uphill battle, but a lot of credit has to go to Sale for the way they managed the game in the first half.
"They were putting a number on us, fortunately enough we managed to turn it around in the second half.
"Ian Keatley understands we need patience and control and we had that at the end of the game. It was a great kicking display. I know I hammered him after the Edinburgh game and tore him apart, but I patted him on the back today."
Sale: Haley, Brady, Leota, Tuitupou, Arscott, Cipriani, Cusiter, Lewis-Roberts, Jones, Cobilas, Mills, Paterson, Lund, Seymour, Easter.
Replacements: Jennings for Tuitupou (57), De Marchi for Lewis-Roberts (76), Harrison for Cobilas (57), Beaumont for Seymour (73).
Not Used: Mamukashvilli, Ostrikov, Cliff, Ford.
Munster: Jones, Conway, Smith, D. Hurley, Zebo, Keatley, Murray, Kilcoyne, Casey, Archer, Foley, O'Connell, P. O'Mahony, O'Donnell, Stander.
Replacements: Hanrahan for D. Hurley (57), Cronin for Kilcoyne (45), Botha for Archer (45).
Not Used: Guinazu, B. Holland, Copeland, Williams, van den Heever.
Sin Bin: O'Donnell (34).
Ref: Mathieu Raynal (France).