Leicester Tigers outmuscle Munster at Thomond Park

Vereniki Goneva scored for Leicester Tigers

Leicester Tigers cemented their place on top of Pool 4 in the European Rugby Champions Cup by beating Munster 19-31 in Limerick.

The loss for Munster is only their fifth loss in European Rugby history at their home venue and Leicester have become the first team ever to win twice at Thomond Park.

Scores from Vereniki Goneva and Mike Fitzgerald just before the break swung the game in the visitors favour. Sean Cronin dabbed down to get Munster back in it before Ben Youngs sniped over, and Mike Sherry’s try was too little, too late for Munster.

Leicester have three wins from three as they head back to Welford Road for the return leg next Sunday, and will be confident of progressing from pool four.

The Tigers were given the chance to make a perfect start when Munster offended at a ruck, just 40 seconds after the first whistle.

Welsh playmaker Owen Williams made no mistake and Leicester were 3-0 ahead after just two minutes.

The early setback sparked Munster into life, as they made their way deep into Tigers territory thanks to breaks from Robin Copeland and CJ Stander.

Their furious tempo forced Leicester to offend and Ian Keatley brought the hosts level.

The kickers exchanged penalties before the Tigers roared into the ascendancy. The visitors overpowered Munster to drive 20 metres before being brought down inches short. But the ball was moved left to Goneva, who showed sublime footwork to brush off Keatley and finish at the corner.

And it got even better five minutes later. Munster had a defensive lineout, but hooker Niall Scannell overthrew straight into the hands of Fitzgerald, who smashed his way over the line to score.

Williams converted to hand his side an 18-6 half-time lead.

But the Munstermen came out firing in-front of the Thomond faithful and claimed an opportunistic score from Cronin. The prop touched the ball down after Leicester formed a ruck and the ball was placed over the line. And it got worse for the Tigers when Marcos Ayerza tackled Conor Murray late and was sent to the sin-bin. Keatley converted the resulting penalty to bring it back to 18-14.

But Leicester weathered the storm with a try of their own. Seremi Bai’s chip was collected by Keith Earls, but Leicester rucked over to win the ball back.

That gave Young’s the chance to snipe around Frances Sailli and past Copeland to score. Sherry crossed to give Munster hope, but Tommy Bell’s pair of penalties kept Leicester at arm’s length.

Lachlan McCaffrey was named European Rugby Champions Cup man of the match.

Final Score Munster 19 (6) Leicester Tigers 31 (18)


Tries – Cronin, Sherry
Pen – Keatley (3)
Con –
Drop –

Leicester Tigers
Tries – Goneva, Fitzgerald, B Youngs
Pen – Williams (2), Bell (2)
Con – Williams (2)
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee: Romain Poite (France),
Assistant ref: Tual Trainini (France),
Assistant ref: Laurent Breil (France),
TMO: Gilles Cogne (France),
Citing Commissioner: Maurizio Vancini (Italy)


Munster Rugby: Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Denis Hurley, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, BJ Botha, Dave Foley, Donnacha Ryan, Robin Copeland, Dave O’Callaghan, CJ Stander (c)

Replacements: Mike Sherry, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Mark Chisholm, Jack O’Donoghue, Tomas O’Leary, Tyler Bleyendaal, Lucas Amorosino

Leicester Tigers: Telusa Veainu; Adam Thompstone, Matt Smith, Seremaia Bai, Vereniki Goneva; Owen Williams, Ben Youngs; Marcos Ayerza, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Graham Kitchener, Michael Fitzgerald, Ed Slater (c), Brendon O’Connor, Lachlan McCaffrey

Replacements: Harry Thacker, Matias Aguero, Fraser Balmain, Dom Barrow, Tom Croft, Sam Harrison, Thomas Bell, Gonzalo Camacho

With thanks to EPCRugby

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