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Rugby | Champions Cup

Simon Zebo © Gallo Images

Munster see off plucky Tigers

Munster moved clear of the chasing pack in pool four of the Champions Cup after beating Leicester Tigers 25-16 at Welford Road on Sunday.

Despite the nine-point winning margin, this was hard-fought battle and Munster only secured victory in the game's closing stages when Ian Keatley kicked two penalties.

Both sides scored a try apiece but Keatley's boot proved the difference in the end and he eventually finished with a 20-point haul courtesy of six penalties and a conversion.

The opening exchanges were evenly contested and the sides were level at 3-3 by the 10th minute after George Ford and Keatley traded early penalties.

Leicester upped the ante on attack, however, and they were rewarded in the 12th minute when Mathew Tait glided through a gaping hole in Munster's defence before crossing for a deserved try.

Ford slotted the conversion which meant the Tigers led 10-3, but Tait's try seemed to bring more urgency to Munster who started to take control of proceedings. The Tigers seemed to battle under pressure and conceded numerous penalties during the next 10 minutes.

In the 24th minute, an indiscretion from Dan Cole led to a stern word from referee Mathieu Raynal and Keatley narrowed the gap by slotting the resulting penalty.

The home side continued to concede penalties and the Irish province made it a one-point game when Keatley succeeded with his third penalty in the 33rd minute after Leicester's forwards were blown up for illegal play at a maul inside their half.

And on the stroke of halftime, referee Raynal sent Cole to the sin bin after another cynical defensive foul on defence. And to make matters worse, for the hosts, Keatley added his fourth penalty which gave Munster a slender 12-10 lead at halftime.

The Irish province were fastest out of the blocks in the second half and two minutes after the restart, CJ Stander barged over from close quarters after Conor Murray did brilliantly with a superb line break in the build-up.

The next 20 minutes was a slugfest as the two sides went in search of victory, but the Tigers were handed a lifeline in the 61st minute when John Ryan was yellow carded when he knocked the ball from Ben Youngs' grasp inside Munster's 22.

Ford made it a three-point game when he slotted the resulting penalty but although Leicester spent long periods inside Munster's half while Ryan was off the field, the visitors did well to keep the Tigers at bay with a solid defensive effort.

Munster finished the match stronger and a 73rd minute penalty from Keatley gave them more breathing space, before another three-pointer off the kicking tee, two minutes before full-time, secured them a crucial win on the road.


Leicester - Try: Tait. Conversion: Ford. Penalties: Ford 3

Munster - Try: Stander. Conversion: Keatley. Penalties: Keatley 6


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