sport news Saracens 32-16 Munster: Hosts reach Heineken Champions Cup final

Once their place in the final was secured, Saracens had one last act of defiance up their sleeve.

Having just greeted his relatives in the crowd, Billy Vunipola embarked on a lap of honour by himself in front of the Munster fans who arrived with gay pride flags and jeered his every move.

Breaching security, one brave Irishman slipped past the stewards to get onto the pitch and flash his middle fingers in the face of the No 8 who has been in the middle of a homophobia storm. 

Billy Vunipola responded to mid-week controversy with a brilliant display and a vital try

Billy Vunipola responded to mid-week controversy with a brilliant display and a vital try

The England international was confronted by a Munster fan after the final whistle

The England international was confronted by a Munster fan after the final whistle

Flanker Michael Rhodes set Saracens on the way to victory after crossing in the second half

Flanker Michael Rhodes set Saracens on the way to victory after crossing in the second half

Vunipola kept jogging, but turned around after a few metres to give a thumbs-up to the middle-class male wearing shorts and loafers.

MATCH FACTS 

SARACENS: Goode, Maitland, Lozowski, Barritt, Williams, Farrell, Spencer, M. Vunipola, George, Lamositele, Itoje, Kruis, Rhodes, Wray, B. Vunipola.

REPLACEMENTS: Gray, Barrington, Koch, Skelton, Burger, Wigglesworth, Tompkins, Strettle.

TRIES: Rhodes, B Vunipola, CONS: Farrell 2, PENS: Farrell 6; 

MUNSTER: Haley, Conway, Farrell, R. Scannell, Sweetnam, Bleyendaal, Murray, Kilcoyne, N. Scannell, Ryan, Kleyn, Beirne, P. O'Mahony, O'Donoghue, Stander.

REPLACEMENTS: Marshall, Loughman, Archer, Holland, Botha, Mathewson, Hanrahan, Goggin. 

TRY: Sweetnam; CON: Hanrahan PENS: Bleyendaal 2, Murray 

The English champions went into this match feeling like the world is against them. Munster's players felt the full force of their siege mentality.

'Shake It Off' by Taylor Swift has been Saracens' anthem this week. They knew the haters would hate but they rallied against the torrent of abuse.

There had been little fanfare before the match about this being Vunipola's 100th appearance for the club, although it came to light when he was named man of the match. He carried the ball 22 times and scored a try, although there were suggestions of a cunning broadcast ploy to dupe him into TV interview duties. 'I believe what I believe in,' said the Pacific Islander, as he broke his silence. 'There was no intention to hurt anyone. That was never my intention and I am just glad to play, to be fit. Behind closed doors I felt a lot of love and a lot of kindness.'

Munster offered heart and soul on the pitch, but they lacked the cutting edge of Owen Farrell, who was perhaps a more deserving candidate for man of the match.

There were several rainbow flags spotted in the crowd in response to Vunipola's comments

There were several rainbow flags spotted in the crowd in response to Vunipola's comments

Vunipola grounded the ball after heavy pressure to help his side reach another European final

Vunipola grounded the ball after heavy pressure to help his side reach another European final

Showing no signs of sleep deprivation as a new father, the fly-half scored 22 points, fizzed passes off both hands and terrorised Mike Haley with his kicking onslaught. Inside the first minute, Saracens landed two box kicks on the Munster full-back, who dropped both. CJ Stander subsequently conceded a penalty, which Farrell kicked against a shout of 'C'mon ya p****!' as the anti-Saracens rhetoric continued.

From thereon, Munster were playing catch-up.

Saracens struggled to break clear in the first half as their superior attack

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