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It’s the last European Champions Cup action of 2015 and it’s a crucial game for Munster as they aim to bounce back from last weekend’s 19-31 defeat at Thomond Park. Different venue but same opposition today at Welford Road for Anthony Foley’s men, who take on Pool 4 leaders Leicester Tigers.

Here’s Simon Zebo arriving at Welford Road ahead of the game…

Simon Zebo arrives Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

With Stade Francais beating Treviso comfortably yesterday, Munster are five points behind the French side in second place and nine points adrift of Leicester. Here’s how the table looks at the moment…

TABLE

Munster have made three changes to their tight five for today’s game: Mike Sherry starts at hooker in place of Niall Scannell, John Ryan packs down at tighthead with BJ Botha seeing a specialist after his latest concussion, while Mark Chisholm edges out Dave Foley at lock.

Munster: Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Denis Hurley, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Mike Sherry, John Ryan; Mark Chisholm, Donnacha Ryan; Robin Copeland, Dave O’Callaghan, CJ Stander (c).
Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Mario Sagario, Dave Foley, Jack O’Donoghue, Tomás O’Leary, Rory Scannell, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.

Leicester have made an enforced switch at out-half after Owen Williams jarred his knee in Limerick. Freddie Burns will take the reins in his absence, with Peter Betham returning to outside centre, pushing Matt Smith in a place to number 12. Lions back-row Tom Croft also returns to the squad as a replacement.

Leicester Tigers: Telusa Veainu; Adam Thompstone, Peter Betham, Matt Smith, Vereniki Goneva; Freddie Burns, Ben Youngs; Marcos Ayerza, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole; Mike Fitzgerald, Graham Kitchener; Ed Slater (c), Brendon O’Connor, Lachlan McCaffrey.
Replacements: Harry Thacker, Matias Aguero, Fraser Balmain, Dom Barrow, Tom Croft, Sam Harrison, Tommy Bell, Seremaia Bai.

Kick-off at Welford Road is at 5.15pm, after which we’ll keep you updated on all the action right here.

A view of Welford Road Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It’s about to kick-off at Welford Road. These Munster fans are ready and so are we…

Brian and Niall O'Connor Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

One late change on the Munster team. Donnacha Ryan is out due to illness so Dave Foley partners Mark Chisholm in the second-row and Billy Holland will be on the bench.

Jerome Garces is the man in the middle today. And away we go…

Leicester Tigers 0 Munster 0 

3 – Good start for the hosts as they spread the ball wide on the attack but, with Munster under pressure, Leicester are undone by a forward pass. Munster scrum just outside their own 22.

Leicester Tigers 0 Munster 0 

5 – Solid scrum from Munster just inside Leicester’s half, Conway neatly dinks one through to put Leicester under pressure but they clear their lines.

Leicester Tigers 0 Munster 3

7 – Nice handling by Munster on the attack here and they’ve forced a penalty just outside the Leicester 22. Brendon O’Connor penalised and Ian Keatley lands the first blow of the afternoon. That’ll do his confidence a world of good.

Leicester Tigers 0 Munster 3

10 – Another good scrum from Munster earns them a penalty as the scrum goes down. Keatley sends it to touch deep in Leicester’s half.

Leicester Tigers 0 Munster 3

11 – Murray releases to Stander off the lineout but it’s a knock-on from the captain. Scrum to Leicester.

Leicester Tigers 0 Munster 3

Munster’s Simon Zebo tackles Adam Thompstone of Leicester…

Simon Zebo with Adam Thompstone Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Leicester Tigers 0 Munster 3

14 – Leicester infringe again but Keatley is unable to punish them on this occasion, although it wasn’t an easy kick by any means.

Leicester Tigers 0 Munster 3

15 – Very positive start by Munster here, particularly from the front five. Frustrating for Leicester so far.

Leicester Tigers 0 Munster 3

19 – Good lineout from Leicester in Munster’s half but Munster disrupt the subsequent drive and they’ve been awarded a scrum. Stuttering stuff from Leicester but that’s a better scrum from the home side. Penalty goes to Munster, however.

Leicester Tigers 0 Munster 3

21 – Munster have looked good with the ball in hand when they’ve had the opportunities. Saili and Zebo have been lively, with Murray pulling the strings.

Leicester Tigers 0 Munster 3

23 – Leicester on the charge. Nervy moments for Munster but there’s been a flag from the tough judge and play is held up. It’s for a high tackle by Keatley on Veainu. Leicester lineout just shy of Munster’s line.

Leicester Tigers 7 Munster 3

25 – Leicester make the most of their first venture into Munster’s 22 as Slater drives over for the try and Freddie Burns adds the extras.

Leicester Tigers 7 Munster 3

27 – Skirmish breaks out and the referee settles the players down. “We’re reasonably happy so far and we’re confident we can build our way back into this,” Jerry Flannery tells BT Sport.

Leicester Tigers 7 Munster 3

29 – Excellent turnover won by Robin Copeland for Munster allows Ian Keatley to send the visitors back into Leicester’s half.

Leicester Tigers 7 Munster 3

Here’s the try from Ed Slater that has Leicester leading…

Try1

Leicester Tigers 7 Munster 3

31 – Munster lineout near Leicester’s line goes smoothly until they’re penalised at the ruck and Burns will clear the danger for the hosts.

Leicester Tigers 7 Munster 3

34 – Leicester knocking at the door inside the opposing 22 and it looked ominous for Munster until Goneva lost the ball in contact. Excellent defence by Munster and Keatley sends it safely into touch.

Leicester Tigers 7 Munster 3

36 – Munster penalised for not rolling away and it’s a Leicester penalty just outside Munster’s 22.

Penalty! Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 3

36 – Burns makes no mistake and Leicester lead by seven.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 3

39 – Good work again by Munster in defence, securing a turnover as Leciester were on the attack, which was engineered by a wayward Keatley kick.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 3

40 – Munster on the attack as the half-time whistle approaches. Leicester’s Dom Barrow is sin-binned for a ‘cynical infringement’, so it’s a Munster penalty with the last action of the half.

Penalty! Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

40 – Keatley slots it over and that’s a positive end to the first-half for Munster, who’ll have a numerical advantage for the first 10 minutes of the second-half.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

The second-half is underway…

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

Keith Earls knocks the restart on and it’s a Leicester scrum. Remember, Leicester are a man down for the first 10 minutes of the second-half with Dom Barrow in the bin.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

43 – Saili on the break for Munster but he’s brought down just before the line and Leicester turn it over.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

44 – Munster continue to apply the pressure inside the 22. This is promising.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

44 – James Cronin gets in at the corner but Murray’s pass was forward. Leicester survive.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

47 – Munster have three minutes to capitalise on their numerical advantage. Leicester pinned into their own half but no reflection on the scoreboard as of yet in this half.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

48 – Good scrum by Munster and they’ve won a penalty. Keatley will go for the posts.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

50 – No joy for Keatley. That’s 2/4 from him today and Dom Barrow is back on for the home side. Could be a big moment in this game.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

52 – Leicester on the attack but they’re penalised at the ruck. Big let-off for Munster. The momentum is swinging back and forth in this one.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

53 – Earls dinks one through to the Leicester 22 and puts Thompstone under pressure, but they handle it well and Youngs clears the danger.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

56 – Leicester on the attack but it’s lost forward and the ball will come back due to a Munster offside. Burns will go for the posts.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

57 – Burns puts it well wide, however, so there’s still just four between them. This game is still hanging in the balance.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

58 – If it stays like this, Munster will trail Leicester by 12 points and Stade by four in Pool 4.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

59 – Munster under pressure in their own 22 as Earls hurriedly tries to clear. Leicester lineout.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

60 – Leicester get the maul going off the lineout, they’ve spread it wide and now they’re trying to hammer the door down.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

61 – Ed Slater is appealing for a deliberate knock-on by Denis Hurley as Leicester went wide with two free men in the corner, but Jerome Garces says no.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

61 – Leicester scrum five metres out.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

62 – Saili capitalises on a handling error inside Munster’s 22, runs almost the length of the field before offloading to Zebo under pressure from Veainu, as Thompstone rescues the hosts with an incredible recovering tackle just shy of the line and Leicester survive. Could be a vital moment.

Leicester Tigers 10 Munster 6

66 – Leicester going through the phases and it’s another big challenge for the Munster defence here.

Leicester Tigers 17 Munster 6

67 – Goneva gets in for Leicester’s second try and Burns adds the conversion. The gap is 11 now. Can Munster come back from here?

Leicester Tigers 17 Munster 6

69 – Munster penalised at the ruck a few metres short of Leicester’s line as they look for an instant response, but Leicester stand firm.

Leicester Tigers 17 Munster 6

70 – That try from Goneva which could prove to be crucial…

Goneva

Leicester Tigers 17 Munster 6

72 – Eight minutes remain in Leicester. Stander charges down a clearing kick by Youngs but his footballing skills let him down as he chases it up.

Leicester Tigers 17 Munster 6

74 – Zebo brings it into contact but it’s a fairly simple turnover for Leicester on halfway.

Leicester Tigers 17 Munster 6

75 – They’re taking a look back at that big tackle by McCaffrey on Zebo but there’s nothing in it.

Leicester Tigers 17 Munster 6

76 – Stander charges forward but again Leicester steal possession at the breakdown. Munster chasing a losing bonus point but they’re living off scraps.

Leicester Tigers 17 Munster 6

77 – Munster go to touch inside the Leicester 22 as Veainu is unsurprisingly named man of the match.

Leicester Tigers 17 Munster 6

78 – Munster on the attack but Saili forces a sloppy pass away and it goes harmlessly into touch, much to the delight of the home support.

Leicester Tigers 17 Munster 6

80 – Munster are heading home empty-handed tonight, folks. A tough January coming up for Anthony Foley’s men.

About the author:

Paul Dollery

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