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Dublin: 0 °C Wednesday 17 January, 2018
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Good afternoon and welcome along to our live coverage of today’s Pool 4 clash from Welford Road, where Munster are looking to make it back-to-back wins against the Exeter following last Saturday night’s 33-10 win at Thomond Park.

Kick off in Leicester is at 5.30pm, and we’ll have all the build-up between now and then right here.

Let’s have a quick reminder of today’s teams…

Munster:

15. Simon Zebo

14. Darren Sweetnam

13. Sam Arnold

12. Rory Scannell

11. Alex Wootton

10. Ian Keatley

9. Conor Murray

1. Dave Kilcoyne

2. Kevin O’Byrne

3. Stephen Archer

4. Jean Kleyn

5. Billy Holland

6. Peter O’Mahony (Captain)

7. Chris Cloete

8. CJ Stander

Replacements:

16. Niall Scannell

17. Brian Scott

18. John Ryan

19. Darren O’Shea

20. Jack O’Donoghue

21. Duncan Williams

22. JJ Hanrahan

23. Keith Earls.

Leicester Tigers:

15. Mathew Tait

14. Adam Thompstone

13. Manu Tuilagi

12. Matt Toomua

11. Jonny May

10. George Ford

9. Ben Youngs

1. Kyle Traynor

2. Tom Youngs (Captain)

3. Dan Cole

4. Mike Fitzgerald

5. Graham Kitchener

6. Valentino Mapapalangi

7. Mike Williams

8. Sione Kalamafoni

Replacements:

16. Tatafu Polota-Nau

17. Logovi’i Mulipola

18. Chris Baumann

19. Dom Barrow

20. Luke Hamilton

21. Sam Harrison

22. Joe Ford

23. Nick Malouf.

A dry evening in Leicester as the travelling Munster players continue to arrive at Welford Road.

Geordan Murphy and Johann van Graan 17/12/2017 Geordan Murphy and Johann van Graan. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Peter O'Mahony arrives 17/12/2017 Peter O'Mahony.

Conor Murray arrives 17/12/2017 Conor Murray

A general view of the Welford Road 17/12/2017

We can only hope that today’s Champions Cup game is of equal drama and brilliance as yesterday’s, with Leinster’s comeback against Exeter at the Aviva Stadium putting them in complete control of Pool 3.

Attention now turns to Munster as they too aim to make it back-to-back wins in Europe against English opposition.

The big news this week saw skipper Peter O’Mahony announce a new contract with the IRFU, with the spotlight firmly on the 28-year-old again this evening following a brilliant individual display at Thomond Park last weekend.

Johann van Graan will be looking for a similar team performance from his side at Welford Road if they are to maintain top spot in Pool 4 ahead of Racing 92, who are level on 11 points.

A little over 20 minutes to go before we get underway.

This meeting is not only important for the current pool standings, but Munster could be on the brink of history were they to inflict back-to-back defeats on Leicester, who have always been able to bounce back from an initial defeat in Europe.

Read more on today’s game here:

 

Just minutes to go now before we get underway. In teams news Johann van Graan has made two changes to the starting XV from last Saturday’s win at Thomond Park.

It’s a first European start for Kevin O’Byrne as he and winger Darren Sweetnam are promoted from the bench, with Andrew Conway and Rhys Marshall continuing to follow the return-to-play protocols.

Notable returnees come in the form of Keith Earls and Niall Scannell from their respective hamstring and thumb injuries.

They are included in the matchday 23 while Billy Holland continues in the second row having already started all 13 of Munster’s matches so far this season.

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KICK-OFF: 1 – Leicester 0-0 Munster: We’re underway at Welford Road as Leicester kick off!

1– Leicester 0-0 Munster: Leicester earn an early penalty inside the opening minute  as George Ford prepares to take the kick.

2 – Leicester 3-0 Munster: Ford makes no mistake and kicks a clean effort flying between the posts as first blood goes to the Tigers.

2 – Leicester 3-0 Munster: Munster dominate the first big scrum of the evening and earn their first penalty of the game — it’s loosehead Kyle Traynor who’s penalised for Leicester.

6 – Leicester 3-0 Munster: Ian Keatley punts the kick from 60 yards right into the corner. It’s a brilliant piece of skill following two very nervous early touches for the Dubliner.

8 – Leicester 3-0 Munster: A good lineout maul from Munster in the corner. An eager Ben Youngs came in from the side and Munster have another penalty in succession in a promising position under the posts.

10 – Leicester 3-3 Munster: We’re all square as Ian Keatley makes no mistake and kicks the penalty over to put Munster’s first points on the board. That all started from the 30-year-old’s pinpoint kick into the corner a few minutes before, and it ends with a well-taken penalty from Keatley too.

12 – Leicester 8-3 Munster: TRY!!! Leicester make a snappy switch of play and expose a massive gap at the blind side. It’s a wonderful run from Matt Tait who touches down under the posts.

14 – Leicester 10-3 Munster: Ford knocks the conversion over and Leicester have a seven point lead.

16 – Leicester 10-3 Munster: Munster take possession but again Leicester force the turnover and the referee calls a penalty to the hosts. Dan Cole is having a commanding display so far.

20 – Leicester 10-3 Munster: It’s a good lineout from European debutant Kevin O’Byrne and the ball is worked out to Darren Sweetnam close to the 10m line. It’s a promising move but Alex Wootton hands possession over following a sloppy kick.

23 – Leicester 10-3 Munster: Munster win another lineout and manage to chip the ball deep into the 22 via Conor Murray. Leicester push back but only succeed in conceding a penalty which is at a comfortable distance for Keatley.

24 – Leicester 10-6 Munster: Keatley knocks it over and the referee has a word with Dan Cole and his captain Tom Youngs, with the former deemed to have lost his composure and discipline for a moment conceding that penalty. The gap is down to four points.

26 – Leicester 10-6 Munster: Ooooof that was close. Chris Cloete makes a powerful, charging break however his offload is poorly timed after covering a huge distance. The ball goes forward approaching the 22 and Leicester regain possession (offering a momentary sigh of relief they weren’t punished there).

29– Leicester 10-6 Munster: It’s another good lineout from Munster. Keatley kicks another another crossfield ball out to Darren Sweetnam but he is driven out of touch.

33 – Leicester 10-6 Munster: Munster earn a penalty (their ninth of the first half), giving Keatley a chance to bring it back to a one point game. Dan Cole penalised for not releasing, conceding his fourth penalty of the evening thus far.

34 – Leicester 10-9 Munster: Keatley knocks it over confidently to make it three from three for him as Munster continue to erode away at Leicester’s lead which is getting slimmer and slimmer.

35 – Leicester 10-9 Munster: Murray with another box kick which forces Munster back out of their own 22 following the restart and relieve the pressure.

37 – Leicester 10-9 Munster: Some brilliant punishing play following a terribly poor lineout from Leicester. Keatley gathers and feeds the ball to CJ Stander who pushes forward with momentum. Tigers are forced offside following the drive forward and Munster have another penalty within kicking distance.

39 – Leicester 10-12 Munster: Keatley kicks it between the posts which makes it four for four from him, giving his side the lead for the first time this evening as we approach the break. An effective turnaround.

40 – Leicester 10-12 Munster: Dan Cole is given a yellow card and is sent to the sin bin. He has given away half of his side’s penalties this evening and, being frank, has suffered a frustrating last 20 minutes.

42 – Leicester 10-12 Munster: Conor Murray tries a final penalty off the ground from a demanding 54m but it tails off to the right as we approach the break. That is that.

Well, what did we make of that? It’s still all in the balance but Leicester’s ill-discipline has really cost them inside the opening 40 minutes. Mathew Tait’s excellent try got them off to the best possible start but Ian Keatley’s consistent kicking has Munster narrowly ahead. Dan Cole has had an awful time of it, sent to the sin bin just before the break.

An entertaining first half in Leicester as Munster take a two point lead into the break.

Ian Keatley kicks a penalty 17/12/2017 Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Darren Sweetnam with Jonny May 17/12/2017

Dan Cole reacts after been given a yellow card 17/12/2017

Manu Tuilagi tackled by Ian Keatley 17/12/2017

SECOND HALF: 40 – Leicester 10-12 Munster: We’re back underway for the second half…

41 – Leicester 10-12 Munster: Ian Keatley gets us back underway. Leicester break away from the restart however Mathew Tait’s chip through has too much on it and flies out of play.

42 – Leicester 10-17 Munster: TRY!!! CJ Stander gets it over the line as the referee awards it following some uncertainty. He consults with the TMO and it stands following some absolutely superb initial feet from Conor Murray.

43 – Leicester 10-19 Munster: Ian Keatley taps over the extras and Munster have exploded into this second half to take a nine point lead. Superb.

45 – Leicester 10-19 Munster: Munster showing a significant amount of confidence as Zebo chips over the Leicester D. Tait just about has it covered at the back and he boots it out for a lineout under pressure.

47 – Leicester 10-19 Munster: The crowd surges into life as Jonny May dodges a handful of challenges skilfully before booting a brilliant straight kick and chasing it deep inside the Munster 22. Murray, Cloete and Rory Scannell scamper back and diffuse the danger. Outstanding footwork from May there.

50 – Leicester 10-19 Munster: Excellent approach play from Leicester earns the hosts a penalty. They almost got over the line via Adam Thompstone but his handling was not up to scratch approaching the endline.

51 – Leicester 13-19 Munster: George Ford knocks it over and Leicester are within a converted try of Munster now as they turn the screw and up the ante.

Pictured: Dave Kilcoyne and Peter O’Mahony celebrate CJ Stander’s try

Dave Kilcoyne and Peter O'Mahony celebrate CJ Stander's try 17/12/2017 Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

55 – Leicester 13-19 Munster: Leicester succeed in maintaining the upper hand by winning a turnover penalty thanks to second-half introduction Luke Hamilton, who has made an immediate impact.

58 – Leicester 13-19 Munster: Another good scrum from Leicester inside the opposition 22. Munster have made two switches with John Ryan and Niall Scannell.

60 – Leicester 13-19 Munster: John Ryan is shown a yellow card for slapping the ball out of an opponent’s hands. He is only just on the pitch a matter of moments and he is back off again for a strange, cynical foul.

61 – Leicester 16-19 Munster: George Ford knocks over the penalty with ease. Leicester are within three points and back in the thick of this with 20 minutes to go.

63 – Leicester 16-19 Munster: Simon Zebo goes for a dramatic Garryowen — he is hit late in the tackle and Munster earn the penalty.

65 — Leicester 16-19 Munster: Ian Keatley can’t knock it over and he registers his first miss of the evening with the ball dropping well wide of the posts. Munster miss the chance to create a bit of breathing space.

66 – Leicester 16-19 Munster: CJ Stander concedes a penalty for an extra roll on the ground, not releasing possession. Ford punts the ball way into the corner as Leicester push forward again.

Another switch for Munster.

67 – Leicester 16-19 Munster: Sammy Arnold and Alex Wootton applying real pressure as Leicester are pinned inside their own 22, driving Tait brilliantly out of touch.

69 – Leicester 16-19 Munster: George Ford pings a stunning kick right into the corner. O’Mahony thought he had enough ground to cover it as the ball went over his head but it goes out of touch for a Leicester lineout. Superb kick as Munster continue to be put under real pressure

72 – Leicester 16-19 Munster: Penalty Munster following more incredible, intense work in the maul with eight minutes to go.

73 – Leicester 16-22 Munster: Keatley succeeds in kicking it over. He is driving Munster towards the finishing line — six point lead and the visitors are growing in confidence with every passing minute.

75 – Leicester 16-22 Munster: Munster successfully wearing the clock down now as the Fields of Athenry echoes around Welford Road with Simon Zebo kicking the ball way into the corner.

76 – Leicester 16-22 Munster: Another penalty to Munster and this may be it with five minutes to go. CJ stander earns it as Tuilagi is penalised for holding on.

78 – Leicester 16-25 Munster: Keatley kicks it between the posts from 30m out and he extend’s Munster’s lead to nine points with only a couple of minutes remaining. They can potentially taste the knockout stages now…

It’s all over! A phenomenal nine point win for Munster who really had to dig it out. They continue to sit atop Pool 4 and secure historic back-to-back wins against fierce rivals Leicester. Plenty more reaction to come from Welford Road. A monumental weekend for the Irish provinces, thanks for joining us!

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