- Henry Slade’s last-minute interception secured Exeter Chiefs a key bonus point
- The centre had kicked five out of six efforts at goal to rack up a tally of 17 points
- Exeter rose off the canvas with Slade’s sprint putting the result beyond doubt
Henry Slade’s golden run of form continued as Exeter turned this encounter on its head in the last quarter to retain their unbeaten record in the Champions Cup.
Eight days on from kicking the conversion that got Chiefs home in Toulon, Slade’s last-minute interception gained the hosts a crucial bonus point and sealed an unlikely win.
The centre kicked five out of six efforts at goal for a haul of 17 points to leave Chiefs celebrating after they looked down and out at the hour mark.
Trailing 24-13, Exeter got off the canvas with tries, in two minutes, from replacements Jack Dunne and Ross Vintcent, and Slade’s final run to glory put the result beyond doubt.
In France last week, Chiefs came back from 18-5 down at half-time, and Rob Baxter’s young side showed similar resolve to put one boot in the last 16.
Henry Slade continued his golden run of form to help Exeter rally back to beat Munster
Slade’s final run to glory put the result beyond doubt after he kicked five out of six efforts
Baxter has seen Sam Simmonds, Jack Nowell and Luke Cowan-Dickie leave the club but his new batch of players, led by senior man Slade, are showing the grit that won this title in 2020.
Baxter said: ‘You need a massive amount of character. There was one stage in the second half when I was watching the boys walking back after Munster had scored and I thought, “Are we shot here?”
‘That was our body language and it takes character to look at each other and say, “We will force our moments in this game, stick together”. That is the character these guys are starting to show. All of our bench were great and we grew in that final stage of the game.’
Munster now lie fifth in pool three and, with four out of six qualifying for the last 16, they need to get points out of a trip to Toulon and the visit of Northampton in January.
But they will be kicking themselves all the way back to Limerick after blowing this chance. Head coach Graham Rowntree said: ‘We are world leaders at making things tough for ourselves – I’m frustrated we let that slip.’
Munster head coach Graham Rowntree voiced his frustration after his side’s late collapse
Munster, who have made the quarter-finals 21 times in this competition, came here on the back of a 17-17 draw against Bayonne but looked a different outfit.
Fly-half Jack Crowley used his kicking game to make space around the Exeter rush defence and they were 19-10 up at the break after tries from Calvin Nash, Tom Ahern and Antoine Frisch.
Exeter only had Dan Frost’s score and the contribution from Slade’s boot to show, and on 49 minutes when Shane Daly scored for the visitors, the game looked up.
Then Vintcent forced his way over and Dunne showed the value of chasing a lost cause.
Victory was secured by Slade’s 55-metre gallop to the line after reading Conor Murray’s pass to perfection.