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‘Even if that kick didn’t go over, overall, they played better than us' -- Rassie

Munster’s director of rugby had no complaints as he tasted a first defeat since Leinster.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

RASSIE ERASMUS HAD no complaints after watching his side’s seven-match winning streak come to an end at Welford Road.

Munster’s director of rugby watched on from the stands as Owen Williams booted a 52-metre penalty to snatch victory for Leicester in the dying moments.

Niall Scannell’s late try looked to have secured a precious away victory for Munster in Europe but Leicester fly-half Williams had the final say with his long-range effort.

Following their 38-0 demolition at Thomond Park, a fired-up Tigers outfit came out fighting on their home turf. Tigers boss Richard Cockerill branded his side’s performance in Limerick as ‘embarrassing’ earlier this weekend and a backlash was always inevitable.

‘We feared that would be the case. It was a Leicester team that were playing for survival and they were really desperate and they deserved to win the game,’ said Erasmus.

‘Even if that kick didn’t go over, I feel, overall, they played better than us on the day. I thought it was a good match.

‘At the end of the day, I thought they deserved to win.’

Donnacha Ryan Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Tigers were a different animal compared to the listless outfit that were dispatched with ease in Limerick seven days’ ago.

They certainly provided far more problems for Munster at the breakdown with openside Brendon O’Connor a constant menace while CJ Stander and Co. found space at a premium in front a suffocating Tigers blitz defence.

‘They got stuck into us at the breakdown and at mauling time, I thought we had the number on them,’ the South African explained.

‘In the scrums, first they had the upper hand then we had the upper hand. So, I wouldn’t say the forward battle but the breakdown battle, they did a number on us.’

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Still, this Munster side is heading in the right direction. Erasmus cited last year’s double header against the same opposition where Munster lost both games, losing by an aggregate score of 48-25. The aggregate score against Leicester after 2016’s two-leg encounter? 54-18 in Munster’s favour.

Niall Scannell scores a try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

‘I’ve said it a few times now, it’s the same team that lost here last year against Leicester at home and away… we’re the same team and we’ll keep growing and along the way we’ll lose matches like this and others we’ll win.

‘All of a sudden, we’re not this invincible team that can go all the way and run away to Leicester you know? We knew all the week it was always going to be a really tough match.’

Munster’s destiny is still very much in their own hands. Pro12 derby meetings with Leinster and Connacht on St Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Eve respectively will focus the minds before a huge January campaign unfolds.

Erasmus will bring his side to Paris for the rearranged meeting with Racing 92 on January 7 before a seismic showdown with current Pool 1 leaders Glasgow at Scotstoun later in the month. A round six clash with the Parisian giants at Thomond Park will round of the pool action.

‘It’s exciting,’ added Erasmus.

‘From my side, it’s nerve-wracking but’s exciting. It’s a pool where at the beginning, everyone was saying “we’re going to be the easy game” in the pool after the way we played last year.  I think we’re growing into a steady and a solid team. We’ve got a way to go.

‘All of a sudden, a team doesn’t become unbeatable. So, yeah, it’s a very tight pool currently. We’ve got a game in hand but there are two away games coming so it’s going to be tough.’

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