Champions Cup: Munster v Leicester

A cracker awaits as familiar foes lock horns under the Thomond Park lights

Patrick Madden Sat, Dec 9
LIVE: Champions Cup: Munster v Leicester

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  • Good evening!

    Welcome to our coverage of Munster's Champions Cup clash with Leicester.

    Tonight two of the continent's heavyweights - and familiar foes to boot - go toe to toe under the Thomond Park floodlights.

    Munster are unbeaten after their opening two Pool Four fixtures, but their draw away to Castres means Leicester lead the group on points difference.

    A rematch at Welford Road awaits next week - and the outcome of this December double-header will have a huge say in both side's hopes of progression to the knockouts.

    Johann van Graan's Munster tenure is in his infancy - a barnstorming introduction to European rugby awaits tonight.

    Promises to be a thriller - stay warm, and enjoy.

    Come on!!!

  • MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Sam Arnold, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (capt), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander. Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Brian Scott, John Ryan, Darren O’Shea, Jack O’Donoghue, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Darren Sweetnam.

    LEICESTER: Telusa Veainu; Adam Thompstone, Matt Smith, Matthew Tait, Jonny May; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Kyle Traynor, Tom Youngs (capt), Dan Cole; Michael Fitzgerald, Graham Kitchener; Tino Mapapalangi, Luke Hamilton, Sione Kalafamoni. Replacements: Harry Thacker, Logovii Mulipola, Chris Baumann, Dom Barrow, Mike Williams, Sam Harrison, Joe Ford, Nick Malouf.

    Referee: Jérome Garcès (France).

  • Apparently Leicester have been preparing for this one by having speakers on their training pitch, in a bid to recreate the Thomond Park roar...
  • Gavin Cummiskey is our man in Limerick tonight - you can read his match preview HERE.
  • Big result for Castres in tonight's other Pool Four fixture - they've beaten Racing 16-13 to move to the top on seven points. Whoever wins tonight will be in pole position at the halfway stage.
  • Tonight is the ninth meeting between these two sides in the European Cup, since the 2002 final when the hand of Neil Back shattered Munster dreams. Currently stands 5-3 to Leicester.

    Previous meetings: (2001-02, final) Leicester 15 Munster 9. (2002-03) Leicester 7 Munster 20. (2006-07) Leicester 19 Munster 21, Munster 6 Leicester 13. (2015-16) Munster 19 Leicester 31, Leicester 17 Munster 6. (2016-17) Munster 38 Leicester 0, Leicester 18 Munster 16.

  • Peter O'Mahony captains Munster tonight - and this week there has been worrying talk over his future, with a move abroad seemingly on the cards. The backrow is the province's talisman and beating heart, if the IRFU let him leave Ireland it would be absolutely criminal, and hugely damaging to Munster's standing as one of Europe's premier sides.
  • 15 mins until kick off!
  • I know Limerick isn't renowned for its warm weather but it looks brutally cold tonight. My thoughts are with those who've turned out - the coldest I've ever been in my life was stood on the end terrace at Thomond.
  • Plenty of familiar faces in the Leicester XV tonight. George Ford starts at outhalf and he's joined by Ben Youngs in the halfbacks - while Dave Kilcoyne has a tough assignment against Dan Cole in the frontrow.

    The visitors will surely be desperate to make up for last season's 38-0 trouncing.

  • The teams are in the tunnel.
  • O'Mahony leads Munster out to a full house. Loud.
  • George Ford has the ball in hand.

    We're underway!

  • 1 min: Munster field the kick off and after one phase Murray sends a good box kick just short of halfway. Tidy start.
  • 2 min: The visitors get good ball off the top and use the hands, Thompstone coming in off the right wing but then losing the ball in contact. Munster truck it up the middle before being turned over on the Leicester 10.
  • 3 min: Long passage of play, Youngs and Murray trading box kicks either side of some ferocious carrying and tackling from both sides.  
  • 4 min: The ball has been in play since that early Munster lineout, with both sides pobing and sussing each other out, without being able to breach either 10-metre. Both sides have been defensively solid and disciplined. A bit of daylight for Leicester as Tait finds secondrow Kitchener in space on the right.
  • 6 min: The ball is still live! Leicester try to stab a kick through but it's read and Conway make a great break, searing from his own 22 deep into the Leicester half. Red shirts are up to support qucikly and Munster are in the ascendancy.
  • 7 min: Munster inside the opposition five-metre and hammering away, Stander nearly wriggling across. Keatley then looks to find Conway on the right with a crossfield kick but May fields it well.  

    Penalty Munster, though, so Garces brings play back and Murray points to the sticks.

    Keatley to take, as easy a chance as you could hope for. Slots it.


  • 9 min: A breathless start - the lungs will be burning. Munster field the restart and then kick, the ball bouncing loose where Conway cleans it up. Murray goes high again and Conway wraps up May - who concedes a scrum. Smart from Munster.
  • 10 min: First test for Munster's patched up frontrow. The scrum has to be reset but when it is Munster deliver a good shunt and Murray gets quick ball.
  • 11 min: Munster move it left and Arnold tries to grubber through, giving the ball straight back to Leicester. Ben Youngs finds touch.
  • 12 min: Leicester maul from the lineout and it grinds infield where Munster are penalised. Ford looks to have found a good touch inside the Munster 22 but good work from Wootton sees him tap it back to Zebo, who clears.
  • 14 min: Leicester have possession inside the Munster half - the hosts are down to 14-men with Keatley on the deck. Good defence from the hosts until O'Mahony is penalsied for coming in off his feet. Ford nudges up the line.

    Keatley fine to continue.

  • 16 min: Leicester's best spell from the lineout, racking up the phases inside the Munster 10. Eventually though it breaks down and Zebo finds a good clearance into touch upfield. Leicester take it quickly - tempo very high a the minute.
  • 18 min: First Leicester scrum on their own 10 and they get quick ball. They move it left, Thompstone looping round from the right wing - but ferocious work on the floor from Munster and Arnold wins them a penalty. Scannell kicks to touch.
  • 20 min: Munster maul from the lineout but Leicester hold their ground. The hosts move it infield where Kilcoyne has a dart up the middle.
  • Good, straight lines of running from Munster, with with plenty of quick phases off shorter ball. Murray finds hooker Archer who nearly spills but regains control of the ball and shows great strength to force his way over the whitewash.

    Keatley converts.


  • 24 min: O'Mahony turns over Tom Youngs on the deck and then Keatley finds a cute kick over the top and into the 22. Good stuff from Munster at the minute.
  • 25 min: Cole concedes a penalty and then lies on the ball, prompting a little bit of afters with Murray.  

    Another good chance for Keatley, dead straight and just inside the Leicester 10-metre. Good kick.


  • 27 min: Ford picks out Stander with the restart, and he requires no invitation to come steaming back at Leicester, making good ground. Murray then box kicks - Munster finding it easy to get out and gain territory.
  • 29 min: Bit of better ball for Leicester and they move it left as far as May, who has a bit of space to open his legs but opts to kick, Zebo picking up the pieces and dancing back.
  • 30 min: Munster are destroying Leicester on the floor, the visitors have good possession inside the 10 but O'Mahony strips Cole and earns his side a fine turnover.
  • Munster carrying with a greater intensity, getting over the ball in a flash and giving Leicester no sniff of a turnover. Cloete is involved in the build-up, carrying and then acting as scrumhalf to find Kilcoyne who carries well.

    The ball then comes to Keatley at 10 who spies the space in behind and lobs over a kick for Zebo to steam onto and score. He got a kind bounce - but brilliant vision nontheless.

    Keatley converts.


  • 34 min: Leicester penalty on halfway and Ford finds touch inside the 22. The visitor's win the lineout and set a maul, grinding their way up inside the five. Munster slow it down and concede a penalty under the posts.

    Tom Youngs points for the sticks, and Ford has a simple chance to get Leicester on the board. Makes no mistake.


  • 37 min: Leicester field the ball and there's a couple of phases before Ben Youngs clears. Before Munster can run it back Garces is told to check something upstairs - replays show Tom Youngs neckrolled Cloete and Munster are awarded a penalty.

    Keatley will go for goal - he restores Munster's 20-point cushion.


  • 39 min: Better kick chase from Leicester and Zebo's clearance doesn't reach the 10-metre. The visitors win the lineout and move infield, but Munster slow the ball down well. A wild pass is thrown to Ford and it goes loose before the hosts turn it over.

    Garces is going to check something with the TMO - it's Tom Youngs again, this time with a shoulder on Stander at the fringes. He concedes a penalty but escapes a yellow card.

  • 40 min: Munster going to have a go before half time, and they set the maul from the lineout - but they're still some way from the Leicester 22.  
  • The teams are back out for the second half.

    We're back underway!

  • 41 min: Leicester field the short kick and return it to Keatley deep. He tries to thread one into touch from a narrow angle but it bobbles dead. Leicester drop out.
  • 42 min: May calls a mark but his kick to touch only just leaves the 22. Great platform for Munster.
  • 43 min: Quick ball off the top and Scannell rumbles Munster up to the 22. A few phases pass before midfield partner Arnold breaches the 22 on the right.

    Great work from Munster on the short side and Arnold finds Wootton. Brilliant clear out from Cloete and Kleyn reaches for the line but just loses control. Nearly a killer score from the hosts.

  • 46 min: Leicester scrum in their own half comes under pressure but Ben Youngs and Ford combine to release Veainu on the left. A poor kick from Ben Youngs follows, straight down Zebo's throat. Munster kick it back and Conway steams after it trying to put Veainu under pressure but he gets his head on the wrong side and there's a nasty clash of heads.

    Conway is in big bother on the floor - he's conscious but unlikely to continue. Conway walks off, Sweetnam comes on.

  • 47 min:  Veainu is also off after that collision, replaced by Nick Malouf.
  • 49 min: Sweetnam involved early as he runs onto an inside ball and into the 22. Munster possession under the posts - nice hands from Arnold but Wootton can't hold on.
  • 50 min: Munster on the front foot after a lovely break by Keatley who finds Wootton, and a phase later Kilcoyne makes a big carry up to the five-metre. He gets isolated, though, and Tom Youngs and Cole combine to turn it over.
  • 52 min: Leicester lineout on halfway and they get quick ball. Munster up quickly and Tait throws a wild pass out to Kalafamoni which the number eight can't hold onto. Good pressure from Arnold.
  • 53 min: Big scrum from Leicester and they win it against the head,  Mapapalangi scooping it up and pressing down the short side. Brilliant from Cloete, holding number eight  Kalafamoni off the ground and earning his side yet another turnover.
  • 55 min: Leicester under pressure deep in their 22 but Archer concedes a penalty for coming in at the side.
  • 56 min: Another big turnover from Munster and they have possession in the Leicester 22.
  • And that, is surely that. It all came after Archer stripped the ball and Munster gained possession in the Leicester 22. After a few phases Zebo skips past Cole and finds Sweetnam on the right and he draws his man before finding skipper O'Mahony who has the simplest of finishes in the corner.

    Keatley misses the conversion.


  • 61 min: Loose kick from Zebo to Ford in broken field but the English number 10 runs a poor line and when he passes it to Malouf he has no space and is shunted into touch.
  • 64 min: Wow. Leicester look like they've finally got a score, setting up a good maul and getting momentum over the Munster line - but Marshall nicks it off him and emerges with it! Another five-metre lineout for the visitors.
  • Same move again, Kitchener taking the lineout and Leicester setting the maul. They get a good shove on and new man Thacker peels off before burrowing over the line.

    Ford converts.


  • 67 min: And sraight after scoring Leicester are then turned over straight from the restart. Keatley sticks it into the corner from the 22.
  • Munster maul from the lineout and grind over the line. Garces checks with the TMO and replays show the ball is touched down. Looks like it was Cloete, who's had a brilliant game.

    Keatley misses the conversion, but Munster have a big bonus point.


  • 71 min: Leicester have been rank tonight. Ford plays a flat ball to Tait and wraps around but misses the ball completely, and then May is pinged for offside. Keatley sends the penalty to touch.

    Huge cheers as O'Mahony is replaced by Darren O'Shea.

  • 73 min: This time it's loose from Munster, John Ryan dropping a short ball on the Leicester 22.

    Murray is replaced by Duncan Williams - it's been a masterclass.

  • 75 min: Ford get the ball inside the Munster half but the linespeed from the hosts remains as intense as it has been throughout, and he gets smashed before he can think what to do with it.
  • 76 min: Almost stunning from Munster, patient build-up deep and Hanrahan finds Zebo on an inside line, but he spills it as he looks for the offload out the back of his hand.
  • 78 min: Leicester building phases on the Munster 22 - probably for the first time in the match. Ford tries a kick over the top to his brother Joe but Hanrahan reads it well. Play is brought back for a Leicester penalty and they go for the corner.
  • 79 min: Another lineout maul from Leicester and they draw another penalty. This time they'll go for a scrum - clock now red.
  • 81 min: Leicester keeping it short and tight trying to hammer their way into the Munster five and across the line. They work the shortside and it slows down, another penalty for Leicester.
  • 82 min: Leicester go for another lineout and maul again. They're fractions short, but Munster are resolute. Eventually they decide to swing it wide and May spills Ford's looped pass.
  • Right thanks for joining tonight - a huge performance from Munster, who are now sitting pretty at the top of Pool Four.

    We'll be back tomorrow for Ulster's clash with Harlequins and Leinster's trip to play Exeter - a perfect excuse for you to stay inside out of the snow.