Munster 19-31 Leicester: Tigers make history with record-breaking win in Ireland
Leicester maintained their 100% start to take control of Pool Four following a 31-19 win against Munster at Thomond Park
Tries from Niki Goneva and Michael Fitzgerald give Leicester an 18-6 lead at the break
Owen Williams moved past 400 points for Tigers with his conversion of Fitzgerald’s score
Ben Youngs second half try was enough to edge Leicester to the win
Leicester Tigers made history as they became the first team to win twice at Thomond Park with a 31-19 victory against Munster, putting themselves in the driving seat in Pool Four of the European Champions Cup.
The record defeat was only the Irish provinces fifth loss at home in European rugby history and it was an uphill battle for them most the game after they found themselves 18-6 down at the break following tries from Tigers Niki Goneva and Michael Fitzgerald in the opening 40.
Munster resurged with James Cronin dotting down a minute into the second half but Leicester weathered the storm and pounced when they got the possession through Ben Youngs.
Keith Earls then finished off a well-worked try for the hosts to set up a grandstand finish but two late penalties from Tommy Bell secured the win for the visitors.
An early penalty to Leicester saw Owen Williams give his side the lead from the tee after just over a minute.
Ian Keatley levelled from the tee for Munster after 13 minutes before edging the hosts in front with a second penalty soon after.
Williams had levelled for Leicester from the tee before the visitors scored their first try on 33 minutes.
The Tigers powered towards the try-line and fell just short, but with the penalty advantage the visitors worked the ball out wide and Goneva showcased his finishing skills to dive over in the corner. Williams though couldn’t add the extras as his touchline conversion attempt cannoned off the post, 6-11.
Munster then gifted the Tigers’ their second try after 27 minutes. The hosts couldn’t find their man at the lineout and a hovering Fitzgerald collected the over throw and dived over for his first try for the club. Williams added the extras, which took the number 10 to 400 points for Leicester, to give the visitors a 12-point lead heading into half-time.
The second half didn’t start well for the Tigers as Munster capitalised on a messy Leicester lineout with James Cronin dotting the ball down just one minute after the restart. Keatley though couldn’t add the extras, 11-18.
Things then went from bad to worse for Leicester as veteran prop Marcos Ayerza was sent to the sin bin for his late tackle on Conor Murray. Keatley kicked the resulting penalty to reduce the deficit to four points.
However, despite being a man down, Ben Youngs sniped from the base of the ruck after a good initial break from Seremaia Bai to dive over between the posts for Leicester’s third try after 53 minutes. Williams then added the simple conversion, 14-25,
Munster though were not done as Simon Zebo, with a swivel of the hips, soared through the Leicester defence before finding Earls, who showcased his attacking prowess and dancing feet to dive over. Keatley though dragged his attempted conversion wide of the right post as the Irish province trailed by six points with 10 minutes to go at Thomond Park.
Bell, who replaced Williams, then slotted two penalties for the visitors as Leicester secured an impressive away win, 19-31.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Leicester: Lachlan McCaffrey
Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Simon Zebo; 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander (c), 7 Dave O’Callaghan, 6 Robin Copeland, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Dave Foley, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Mark Chisholm, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Tomás O’Leary, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Seremaia Bai’, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Ed Slater (c), 5 Mike Fitzgerald, 4 Graham Kitchener, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Dom Barrow, 20 Tom Croft, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Gonzalo Camacho.
Date: Saturday, December 12
Venue: Thomond Park
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Tual Trainini (France), Laurent Breil (France)
TMO: Gilles Cogne (France)