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Tigers create history with victory at Munster

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Leicester Tigers produced one of their greatest-ever European performances to beat Munster Rugby 31-19 at their Thomond Park fortress.

Almost nine years after recording one of their most famous wins in Europe at the old Thomond Park, Tigers created history by becoming the only club to win at the famous ground in the Champions Cup on two occasions.

Tigers return to Leicester with four match points that keep them top of Champions Cup Pool 4. Crucially, they denied their Guinness Pro12 opponents a losing bonus point, which could prove vital with the two sides meeting back at Welford Road next Sunday.
 
The win was built on 15 unanswered points in the second quarter of the game. Tigers had trailed 6-3 when Owen Williams landed his second penalty before Vereniki Goneva crossed at the left corner. Mike Fitzgerald swooped on an overthrown lineout to score his first Leicester try from close range and give Tigers an 18-6 half-time lead.
 
Tigers weathered a Limerick storm as they conceded a try to Conor Murray and then had Marcos Ayerza sent to the sin bin in the opening five minutes of the second half.

But Ben Youngs’s brilliant individual try put Tigers on top, and despite Mike Sherry scoring Munster’s second try, they eased to victory thanks to two late Tommy Bell penalties.
 
Brendon O’Connor and Lachlan McCaffrey returned to the Tigers back row, where they were joined by captain Ed Slater. With Slater at flanker, Graham Kitchener partnered Fitzgerald in the second row and Ayerza returned to the front row alongside Tom Youngs and Dan Cole.
 
Ben Youngs returned at scrum-half alongside Owen Williams while Matt Smith came in at centre in place of Peter Betham.
 
Argentina international wing Gonzalo Camacho was named in the Tigers matchday squad for the first time in a competitive fixture. He was joined on the bench by Laurence Pearce, who replaced Tom Croft, who withdrew ahead of kick-off through illness.
 
Former Tigers full-back Lucas Amorosino was named among the replacements on the Munster bench. The Irish side welcomed back from injury All Black Francis Saili and international scrum-half Conor Murray.
 
The two teams emerged to a huge noise but Tigers were given an opportunity to quieten the home crowd with an early penalty and Williams landed his kick to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
 
A galloping run by Robin Copeland up to the Leicester 22 had the home fans on their feet for the first time, captain CJ Stander made further ground and when Tigers infringed at the breakdown Murray launched a crossfield kick towards Simon Zebo that was collected by Adam Thompstone.
 
Play came back for the penalty, Munster went for the corner but Tigers overturned possession at the maul and cleared up to their 22.
 
Munster were the dominant side in the opening stages, but Tigers stood firm against a wave of attacks, eventually forcing a handling error from full-back Andrew Conway. They then won a penalty at the game’s first scrum to work their way up to halfway.
 
A break in midfield by James Cronin was well stopped by Telusa Veainu, who stole possession but referee Romain Poite ruled he did so illegally and Ian Keatley had a simple penalty to level the scores after 15 minutes.
 
Veainu danced through a couple of tackles to put Tigers back on the attack. Quick hands allowed Ayerza to burst into the Munster 22 but he was tackled 5m short by Dave Foley before Tom Youngs was whistled for holding on.
 
At the other end, Zebo’s kick-chase had Veainu under pressure and won a holding-on penalty. Keatley’s kick put Munster ahead for the only time in the game.
 
Quick thinking by Ben Youngs turned defence into attack when he tapped and went at a penalty on his own 22. He made ground up to the Munster 10m line and chipped ahead where Conway mopped up and found touch.
 
Williams opted to kick for goal when Munster conceded a holding-on penalty of their own on halfway. And his kick just had the legs to bring Tigers level after 29 minutes.
 
Slater was pinged at the restart for obstructing Conway but Keatley was wide with a simple kick from in front of the posts.
 
Munster fans were calling for a penalty when Fitzgerald appeared to impede Conway, but when referee Poite consulted his TMO he gave the penalty to Tigers for a push by Cronin on the Leicester lock.
 
Tigers kicked to touch and then drove Munster 20m back to their line where the maul was dragged down. With the penalty advantage, Goneva collected Ben Youngs’s pass and stepped past Keatley in one movement and held off Stander to score at the corner for a brilliant finish. Williams’s conversion struck the post as Tigers led 11-6 after 35 minutes.
 
Excellent work by Smith almost brought the second try, the centre snaffling possession on halfway and racing 40m towards the corner. He was stopped by Earls but Tigers flooded forward and Goneva was fingertips away from catching Williams’s kick with no defenders at home.
 
But Tigers did get their second try at the resulting lineout. Niall Scannell throw could only pick out Fitzgerald at the back of the lineout and he powered over for his first Leicester try. Williams landed the conversion for his 400th point in Tigers colours to gave his side an 18-6 half-time lead.
 
Munster started the second half with a bang. Keatley’s kick to the corner pinned Tigers in their 22 and when Munster made a mess of the lineout Cronin somehow got a hand on to the ball as it was presented at the back of the the ruck to score a soft try.
 
Marcos Ayerza was then shown a yellow card for a tackle off the ball, and Keatley landed a simple penalty to cut Leicester’s lead to 18-14 less than five minutes after the restart.
 
It was a disjointed period in the game with both sides kicking for territory and Tigers looking to take the sting out of things during stoppages in play.
 
But it was a moment of brilliance by Ben Youngs that finally took the sting out of Munster and their vocal support.
 
It was classic sniping by the scrum-half, as he slipped Copeland’s tackle and then powered through a static Munster defence to score next to the posts. Williams landed a simple conversion to move Leicester 25-14 ahead after 55 minutes.
 
A knock-on at the restart signalled the end of Ayerza’s sin-bin period and his first job was to help win a scrum penalty on the Leicester 10m line.
 
Munster showed plenty of patience as they went through phase after phase to inch their way from their own half into Leicester territory. It created space on the left for Earls to inject pace into the attack. And when Munster recycled quick ball, replacement hooker Sherry trundled over for the hosts’ second try. Keatley missed the conversion as Tigers led 25-19 going into the final 10 minutes.
 
Tommy Bell, on as a replacement for Williams, calmed Leicester nerves with a penalty soon after the restart that moved Tigers 28-19 up and more than a score ahead.

Tigers were brilliant in defence, forcing Munster to play across the pitch. And when they isolated Copeland, he was pinged for holding on allowing Bell to kick up to the Munster 22.
 
Leicester won another penalty at the lineout and this time Bell went for goal, landing his kick from the angle to move Richard Cockerill’s men into a 31-19 lead with four minutes remaining.
 
There was still time for Harry Thacker to come on for his European debut, replacing Tom Youngs at hooker, and Gonzalo Camacho to make his Leicester debut in place of Adam Thompstone.
 
Tigers survived one final scare when Earls cut through in midfield and had Zebo on his shoulder but inexplicably threw the pass in the opposite direction and the chance went away.

It was only Munster's fourth defeat in 56 Champions Cup games at Thomond Park, and their second by the Tigers, who top Pool 4 with 14 points from their three fixtures.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

MUN 6-18 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

MUN 19-31 LEI

Attendance

22,231

Referee

Romain Poite

Match Stats

Munster Rugby
Leicester Tigers
Possession
62%
38%
Territory
62%
38%
Penalties Conceded
12
11
Yellow Cards
0
1
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
67/82 82%
132/154 86%
Scrums Won
0/0 0%
3/3 100%
Lineouts Won
13/13 0%
15/15 0%

Player Stats

Munster Rugby
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Telusa Veainu
14
13
12Seremaia Bai
111T
102C2P
9Ben Youngs1T
1Marcos Ayerza
2Tom Youngs
3Dan Cole
4Graham Kitchener
51T
6Ed Slater
7
8Lachlan McCaffrey
16Harry Thacker
17Matias Aguero
18Fraser Balmain
19
20Laurence Pearce
21
22Tommy Bell2P
23Gonzalo Camacho
Munster Rugby
Munster Rugby
19

Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
31

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV

Seremaia Bai
12
Seremaia Bai
11
10
Marcos Ayerza
1
Marcos Ayerza
Ed Slater
6
Ed Slater
Lachlan McCaffrey
8
Lachlan McCaffrey

Subs

Matias Aguero
17
Matias Aguero
Fraser Balmain
18
Fraser Balmain
19
Laurence Pearce
20
Laurence Pearce
Tommy Bell
22
Tommy Bell
Gonzalo Camacho
23
Gonzalo Camacho

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Andrew Conway
14
Keith Earls
13
12
Denis Hurley
11
Simon Zebo
10
Ian Keatley
9
Conor Murray
1
James Cronin
2
Niall Scannell
3
BJ Botha
4
Dave Foley
5
Donnacha Ryan
6
7
8
CJ Stander

Subs

16
17
Dave Kilcoyne
18
John Ryan
19
Mark Chisholm
20
Jack O'Donoghue
21
Tomas O'Leary
22
Rory Scannell
23

Preview: Tigers away to Munster

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It is nearly nine years since Leicester Tigers and Munster met in a competitive fixture, but rivalries will be renewed twice in a week in the European Champions Cup, starting with the trip to Thomond Park this Saturday.

Both clubs have European pedigree, Tigers reaching five finals and becoming the first club to win the trophy in successive years, while Munster made up for the disappointment of final defeat in 2000 and 2002 by taking the title in 2006 and 2008.
 
The 2002 final between the two clubs set the ball rolling on a keen rivalry on the field, but one blessed with respect between the players and supporters of both sides.
 
While Tigers fans cheered the likes of Johnson, Back, Healey and Murphy to the top of the European pile, their Munster equivalents worshipped O’Connell, O’Gara, Foley and Flannery.
 
The sides met in front of a capacity crowd at Welford Road in a 2003 quarter-final, won by the visitors, and then in the pool stages of 2006/07 when each won the away fixture, Tigers in the final match to be played at the old Thomond Park before its redevelopment. Only Marcos Ayerza and Jordan Crane from the 22-man squad that day are still involved in the squad in 2015/16.
 
Now they meet again, at the new Thomond Park this Saturday and back at Welford Road a week on Sunday.
 
Both sides set their campaign off on a winning note, Tigers with maximum points against both Stade Francais and Benetton Treviso, and Munster against the Italians before their match is Paris was postponed due to the atrocities in the French capital last month. That game has now been re-arranged for early in January.
 
“These two weeks are very important,” said Tigers scrum-half Ben Youngs. “We’re in a good position in the pool at the moment, but all that can be undone if we don’t get something out of these two games.
 
“It is a massive challenge for us going to Thomond Park, they try to squeeze you, they will be hard at the breakdown, every ball we win they will be competing for and trying to steal. We know it’s going to be tough, but it’s one we can look forward to.”
 
Kick-off at Thomond Park in Limerick is at 7.45pm on Saturday. There is live coverage on BT Sport or follow the Tigers social media channels. If you’re travelling to the game, you can share your photos with us and other supporters in our online galleries and the matchday programme. Email any photos to [email protected]
 
The return fixture is at Welford Road on Sunday, December 20 (5.15pm) and tickets are available now. On that day, the Tigers Christmas market is open from 2.15pm with gift stalls and attractions for the whole family, including reindeer and Santa, and the Junior Tigers Club is also open for three hours ahead of kick-off with activities for young supporters.
 
Tickets are available now at the Tigers ticket office. Call in at Welford Road (9.00am-5.00pm weekdays and Saturdays), phone 0116 319 8888 (8.30am-5.00pm weekdays and Saturdays) or click here to book online any time.
 
posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
1
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI6501185919424113023
3
Munster Rugby
Munster RugbyMUN63031181001815113015
Form Guide
Form
DWLLW
Last Match
Beat Ospreys Rugby 33-6
Past Meeting
Won 25-16
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WDWDD
Last Match
Draw with Bayonne null-null
Past Meeting
Lost 16-25

Matchday Live

Munster Rugby19
Munster Rugby
Leicester Tigers31
Leicester Tigers
Full Time