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14-man Northampton shock Munster to maintain 100 per cent Champions Cup record

By PA
Curtis Langdon of Northampton Saints is shown a red card by referee Tual Trainini during the Investec Champions Cup Pool 3 Round 4 match between Munster and Northampton Saints at Thomond Park in Limerick. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Northampton overcame a first-half red card for hooker Curtis Langdon to maintain their 100 per cent Investec Champions Cup record by beating Munster 26-23 in Limerick.

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Langdon was dismissed just before half-time following reckless contact with his knee to Munster lock Tom Ahern’s head at a ruck.

Saints skipper George Furbank had already been sin-binned for a dangerous tackle, and Munster flanker Peter O’Mahony pounced for a try when Saints were briefly reduced to 13 players.

But uncapped England Six Nations squad fly-half Fin Smith ran the show, kicking a drop-goal, three penalties and two conversions for a 16-point haul.

Smith displayed outstanding tactical control in driving rain as Northampton posted a statement victory to stay top of Pool Three prior to closest rivals Exeter’s clash against Bayonne on Sunday, with Munster also progressing among four qualifiers.

Saints had already qualified for the round of 16 following victories over Glasgow, Toulon and Bayonne, and they fought back from a 10-point deficit early in the second period to prevail.

Scrum-half Alex Mitchell and back-row forward Sam Graham scored Saints’ tries, while O’Mahony, Antoine Frisch, and Gavin Coombes claimed Munster touchdowns, with fly-half Jack Crowley kicking a conversion and two penalties.

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Racing 92 qualified for the knockout phase after a 48-26 victory over Cardiff in Paris as Stuart Lancaster’s team leap-frogged Ulster into fourth spot and clinched the final round of 16 place from Pool Two.

The result also ended Ulster’s Champions Cup hopes for this season, with them dropping into the European Challenge Cup as a fifth-placed finisher.

South Africa’s double World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi and former England wing Christian Wade were among Racing’s try-scorers as they posted seven touchdowns.

Eliminated Cardiff at least ended their campaign by collecting a losing bonus-point courtesy of Wales scrum-half Tomos Williams’ double, plus touchdowns from prop Rhys Carre and fly-half Tinus de Beer.

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The Bulls ended Bordeaux-Begles’ 100 per cent record in Pool One by posting a thrilling 46-40 success in Pretoria.

Both teams had already qualified, and South African challengers the Bulls raced into a 40-21 lead – helped by two tries from Marcell Coetzee – before Bordeaux hit back despite being without France internationals Damian Penaud, Matthieu Jalibert and Maxime Lucu.

And Bulls’ fellow South African challengers the Stormers progressed from Pool Four, completing their pool campaign with a 24-20 away win against Stade Francais that was clinched by Manie Libbok’s late try.

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