# big issues
5 talking points after Munster drive to victory over Saracens
Excellent forwards, clever kicking, the yellow card, Keatley off the tee and set-piece power.

Set-piece solidity

While there were a number of scrum decisions that went against Munster, they were largely strong at the set-piece. BJ Botha demonstrated his importance with a powerful scrummaging performance and both James Cronin and replacement loose head Dave Kilcoyne were aggressive on the other side.

Peter O'Mahony and Kelly Brown Ryan Byrne / INPHO Munster competed as doggedly as ever in the air. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The competition between that pair is ensuring both players are in superb form and Foley’s selection headache for the number one shirt is more than welcome.

At line-out time, Dave Foley added to his growing reputation, while O’Connell and co. put pressure on the Sarries throw. This area of the game is a real strength for Foley’s men so far this season, and laid the platform for the unstoppable Kilcoyne maul try.

Kicking plan perfectly executed

Munster simply didn’t run the ball out of their own half, with the aim being to limit the amount of time Saracens spent in possession in the home side’s territory. The plan worked perfectly, as Munster found touch with long kicks and then contested effectively in the air under their bombs.

Conor Murray with Neil de Kock Dan Sheridan / INPHO Conor Murray kicked superbly and contributed around the pitch elsewhere. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Conor Murray’s superb kicking game was on display again, while Keatley had two sublime kicks from hand in the second half. Post-match, Foley indicated that Munster’s analysis had shown that roughly 65% of Saracens’ tries come from unstructured situations generally, meaning that kick chase was vital.

Andrew Conway led the charge in the air, while Felix Jones, Simon Zebo and others contributed handsomely. In a deeply tactical game, Munster proved to be dominant in the kicking game.

Yellow card swings momentum

Rhys Gill’s second half sin-binning was a key moment, perhaps the key moment as Munster’s control of the game began to show more tangible results. Kilcoyne’s try and a penalty from Keatley rounded out a 10-minute period of dominance from Foley’s side with the loose head in the bin.

Rhys Gill is sin binned by Jérôme Garcès Ryan Byrne / INPHO Gill was binned for tipping Stander over at a ruck. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Mark McCall conceded that the yellow card was justified afterwards, while Foley agreed that the decision was 100% correct. Gill left the officials with little wriggle room in their decision after flipping CJ Stander over, and the punishment was severe.

The Saracens head coach agreed that his side were left with too tall a task after Gill’s stint in the bin.

Keatley disappointed with place-kicking

Among the many positives, there was disappointment off the tee for Munster’s out-half. Keatley missed three penalty chances, all of which he would have expected to turn into points.

Ian Keatley kicks Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

While there is no sense of panic here, the 27-year-old will look to be far more clinical with his place-kicking moving forward. His game management was excellent at Thomond Park this evening, with some superb kicking from hand and good distribution too.

Murray is the leader of Munster’s game plan, but Keatley’s form over the last two weekends has been hugely encouraging for Foley. He will look to remedy his goal-kicking as the season moves on.

Young forwards shine again

Dave Foley celebrated his Ireland call-up with another excellent showing at lock, while hooker Duncan Casey was once again superb. Stander grows with every game, while Cronin and Kilcoyne tussle for the loosehead slot.

Ian Keatley and Dave Kilcoyne Dan Sheridan / INPHO Kilcoyne [right] scored a second-half try for Munster. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

That these forwards are beginning to stand out in important European games is a major boost for the province, whose buying power is greatly reduced compared to years gone by.

Homegrown forwards are the future for Munster and these men are giving the province every reason to be positive. Peter O’Mahony, still only 25, led as abrasively as ever.

Aggressive Munster outmuscle Saracens in Thomond Park dogfight

As it happened: Munster v Saracens, Champions Cup

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