Captain Peter O’Mahony turned back the clock and led the way with a superb performance as Munster progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup for the 20th time in their history.
The heated Munster side won all the important battles, with Joey Carbery scoring 16 points and making his debut before World Cup winner Damien de Allende could only compete in the closing stages as Exeter, five points clear of the first leg not gain a foothold.
It was the perfect end to a week in which Johann van Graan’s successor was finally announced and Graham Rowntree hopes this type of portrayal will become the norm during his reign.
Munster led the game 13-5 at half-time and 21-18 overall after a tight opening half in which Exeter struggled to collapse when O’Mahony and Jack O’Donoghue grounded things for an interval turnover of 7 dominated -1.
But scoring chances were few and far between as Exeter dealt with Munster’s kicking game and van Graan’s men were in turn organized enough to deal with the Chiefs’ more expansive game.
Exeter were unable to count Conor Murray with a yellow card when Munster’s scrum-half prevented a quick strike from his opposite number Sam Mauder yards from the line. Mauder managed to score, but Joe Simmonds missed the relatively easy conversion and the Chiefs didn’t extend their 5-3 lead when they had the extra man.
Carbery, who put Munster ahead with a sixth-minute penalty, put them back ahead with a 20-metre penalty after Mauder went offside as the home side pressed.
Carbery then put them ahead in the competition as he leapfrogged winger Tom O’Flaherty and tighthead Harry Williams to score a converted try after 26 minutes, with Simmonds taking a penalty from 45 yards downwind just before the break Goal missed Simon Zebo just failed to save an attempted intercept pass from Ian Whitten.
Exeter opted for two penalties from the post after a 10-stage play and were rewarded for their ambition after 49 minutes when Jacques Vermeulen (No8) did enough to push himself up to 13-10 and ahead them with overall two points ahead after Simmonds screwed up the conversion again.
Munster struck back and another turnover steal from O’Mahony earned Carbery a penalty from 25 yards out which he used to lose them an overall lead as both sides began to empty their benches for the final quarter.
Carbery extended the overall lead to four points with 15 minutes to go when he took an excellent penalty from the inside at half-time.
O’Mahony continued to win excellent ball after the collapse and Munster pressed home while enjoying a penalty advantage, with Zebo superbly relieving pressure in the left corner infield and de Allende pushing aside Henry Slade’s challenge to score , while Carbery continued his perfect goal record as he landed his sixth afternoon conversion from the touchline as the Munster fans celebrated another major European win.
Goalscorers: Munster – Experiments: J. Carbery, D. de Allende. Cons: Carbery (2). Pens: Carbery (4). Exeter Chiefs Attempts: S Mauder, J Vermeulen.
Muenster: M Haley; Earls K, Farrell C, de Allende D, Zebo S; J Carbery, C Murray (C Casey 70); J Wycherley (J Loughman 55), N Scannell (D Barron 55), J Ryan (S Archer 55); J Kleyn (T Ahern 60), F Wycherley; P O’Mahony (c) (J Jenkins 75), J Hodnett (A Kendellen 69, 6), J O’Donoghue.
Exeter bosses: SHogg; O Woodburn (J Hodge 72), H Slade, I Whitten (T Hendricksen 74), T O’Flaherty; J Simmonds, S Maunder (J Mauder 58); A Hepburn (B Keast 60), J Yeandle (c) (J Innard 60), H Williams (P Schickerling 60); J Gray, S Skinner; D Ewers (S Grondona 74), J Kirsten, J Vermuelen (R Capstick 70).
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France).
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/champions-cup/munster-overcome-exeter-deficit-to-reach-champions-cup-quarter-finals-41559374.html Munster overcome Exeter’s deficit and reach the Champions Cup quarter-finals