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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018


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Good evening one and all and welcome to our live coverage of the mouth-watering European clash between Munster and Leicester Tigers under the lights at Thomond Park.

Kick-off is a little over half an hour away (7.45pm) so stick with us for all the build-up.

Not long until kick-off now in Limerick. The atmosphere is building for this clash of two European giants.

Leicester have breezed through their opening two assignments, collecting maximum points to sit top of Pool 4.

Munster have played just one game after their tie against Stade Francais was postponed in the wake of the Paris terrorists attacks.

Here comes the teams, emerging from the dressing rooms. Not long until kick-off now. Which way do you see this one going? Can Munster arrest their recent slump in form and kick-start their season?


Kick-off! We’re underway at Thomond Park. Munster playing from right to left as we look in this first period.


Munster are in off their feet and it’s an early penalty for the visitors. This is very kickable and Owen Williams is lining it up.


Penalty! Munster 0-3 Leicester 

Williams makes no mistake as he gets Leicester on the board and gives them an early lead.


Good response from Munster as Robin Copeland makes a break into Leicester territory. It eventually finds its way out right and CJ Stander barges his way towards the line.

Referee Romain Poite is playing advantage and when it’s pulled back, Munster go for the corner.


Munster were inches from the line there but Leicester have managed to clear their lines. It’s been a frenetic opening few minutes to this game with plenty of big hits being made in the early exchanges.


Munster have had possession since the opening score of the game and they’re knocking on the Leicester door now. The visitors, however, are standing firm as Munster go through the phases.


12 phases later, the ball is moved right through the hands but Saili’s attempted offload is behind Conway and the move breaks down. Despite trailing, it’s been an encouraging start for Anthony Foley’s side.


Munster concede the penalty at the scrum and Leicester have the opportunity to clear their lines and bring play back up towards halfway. Crackling atmosphere inside the ground and Munster will be hoping to give the crowd something to shout about.


Keith Earls makes a break down the right but his chip and chase is gathered but Munster maintain the pressure and eventually win the penalty when the Tigers are penalised for being offside.


Penalty! Munster 3-3 Leicester

And we’re live as Ian Keatley dissects the posts.


Munster have taken a stranglehold of this game and just when the Tigers were getting on the front foot, the hosts turn it over at the breakdown and Keatley has the chance to bring play back inside the Leicester half.


That was brilliant work on the ground by Cronin to force the turnover. And another turnover, this time from Botha, gives Keatley the chance from the tee.


Penalty! Munster 6-3 Leicester 

Two from two for Keatley as he sends his effort between the posts. It’s been an excellent response from Munster after going behind so early.


Munster are bullying the Tigers at the breakdown and another penalty comes their way with Keatley finding a good touch on this near side.


On that occasion, it was captain Ed Slater who was penalised for being needlessly offside. Lack of discipline from the Tigers.


But from the lineout, Munster lose it forward and Ben Youngs will have the put in. It’s just gone a little scrappy between these two European heavyweights.


Ian Keatley’s boot has given Munster a slender advantage.

Ian Keatley kicks a penalty Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


Munster are kicking a lot during the last ten minutes as they look to remain on the front foot and play the territory game. Pressure is relieved, however, after an unforced handling error and Tigers clear.

From the line-out, the Premiership club work it infield and win the penalty right on halfway. Williams fancies this and has called for the tee.


Penalty! Munster 6-6 Leicester 

He absolutely nails it. The wind is at his back but what a super kick from Williams as the ball drops over the bar.


But Leicester concede a penalty straight from the restart as Slater blocks the chaser. Keatley has the ball in his hand again and it’s relatively straightforward.

But he misses! The out-half doesn’t strike it cleanly and pushes it left. Bad miss.


Poite is going upstairs after Conway appeared to be obstructed. The TMO is having a look.


But the first offence is ‘by a red player’ and the penalty is awarded to Leicester and not against Michael Fitzgerald.

Flag 34Mins

Try! Munster 6-11 Leicester (Goneva) 

Out of nothing Leicester score the opening try of the game. Keatley misses the tackle on the right touch line and Goneva’s pace and power sees him over in the corner.

Williams smacks the conversion off the post.


Here come Leicester ago as Smith breaks free and only a last-ditch tackle from Conway halts his progress.

Flag 41Mins

Try! Munster 6-18 Leicester (Fitzgerald)

What a couple of minutes for the Tigers! Fitzgerald gathers at the back of the line-out and powers his way over from a couple of metres out.

Williams steadies himself and slots the conversion over.


Disaster for Munster. Overthrow the line-out and Fitzgerald capitalises to touch down.


Munster have left themselves with an uphill challenge in the second-half. A disastrous couple of minutes and Foley must be asking himself how his side find themselves in this position.


Munster are back out early in Limerick. Huge half now for the southern province as they look to overturn this deficit. Fascinating 40 minutes of rugby to come.


Back underway at Thomond Park!


John Ryan has replaced BJ Botha at the break.

Flag 44Mins

Try! Munster 11-18 Leicester (Murray) 

What a start to the second-half! Keatley pins Leicester deep in their own territory and somehow Munster cross the line. Looks like Cronin’s try but the stadium announcer gives it to Conor Murray.

Keatley misses the conversion but Munster are back in it.


Bizarre passage of play and Thomond Park has come alive. Munster go in search of another score as a quick line-out keeps the momentum going.

Replays show it was Cronin who scored that try, his first in Europe.


Penalty! Munster 14-18 Leicester 

Things are unravelling for Leicester all of a sudden. More pressure for Munster, Tigers concede the penalty and Marcos Ayerza is sent to the bin.

Keatley makes no mistake from the tee and the deficit is just four points.


The wind is playing a considerable part and already Munster have taken full advantage. In a matter of minutes, the complexion of this game has changed.


Saili is penalised for being off his feet and Leicester have the platform to build an attack from. They recycle possession but after a couple of phases concede the penalty for holding on. That’s three penalties against them already in this half.


Leicester are rattled and will want to settle back into the contest and take the sting out of this Munster fightback.


Two minutes remaining of Ayerza’s sin-binning. The Tigers have weathered the storm reasonably well and have conceded just three points so far. Mike Sherry, meanwhile, is replaces Niall Scannell.

Flag 55Mins

Try! Munster 14-25 Leicester (Youngs)

Ben Youngs cuts through the heart of the Munster defence after pouncing on the loose ball and he touches down under the posts. Thomond Park falls silent and the Tigers have re-established their 11 point lead.


That’s a real kick in the teeth for Munster just when they had found a route back into the game.


Couple of changes for Munster as Foley shuffles his pack. Dave Kilcoyne and Mark Chisholm replace James Cronin & Dave Foley.


Leicester are back to their full compliment and instantly win a penalty at the set-piece. All the momentum has been sucked out of Munster’s comeback.


Not much happening, apart from a game of aerial ping pong. This suits Leicester as they look to see out this game with less than 20 minutes remaining. Munster are searching for something to spark themselves back into life.


Munster going through the phases in midfield but there’s a wall of green and white shirts standing firm. The hosts are searching for an opening, probing as they go from side-to-side but no luck so far.


Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino replaces Denis Hurley as Earls moves to centre with Amorsino on the wing,

Flag 67Mins

Try! Munster 19-25 Leicester (Sherry)

After multiple phases and patience, Earls produces a moment of magic as he evades a couple of tackles and Sherry bundles his way over – but Keatley pushes the conversion wide.


Penalty! Munster 19-28 Leicester (Williams)

But again Leicester hit back and Williams adds another three points as we enter the final ten minutes.


Couple of changes for Munster. Tomas O’Leary is on for Conor Murray and Jack O’Donoghue replaces Dave O’Callaghan. Another Leicester penalty on halfway and they’re finishing strongly.


This is where Leicester want to be playing these final few minutes – deep in Munster territory. And they win another penalty and Tommy Bell has the chance to add further gloss to the scoreline.


Penalty! Munster 19-31 Leicester (Bell)

No mistake from the replacement out-half and Leicester are heading for a big European victory in Limerick.


Thanks for joining us for tonight’s liveblog. Murray Kinsella’s report can be found here while there will be more reaction to come throughout the evening.

About the author:

Ryan Bailey