MUNSTER remain in second place in Pool 1 of the Champions Cup after suffering a dramatic 16-18 defeat to Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Saturday.
A terrific 80th minute penalty goal from 52 metres out by Leicester out-half Owen Williams helped the Tigers sensationally avenge their 38-0 hiding at the hands of Munster just seven earlier at Thomond Park.
As expected, given their proud European record, Leicester turned in a significantly improved showing on their inept display in Limerick seven days earlier. However, Munster failed to play with the same level of intensity and accuracy that had lit up Thomond Park last weekend. The visitors contributed handsomely to their own ultimate downfall, simply making far too many errors over the 80 minutes.
Second-placed Munster, with a game in hand, trail Glasgow Warriors by two points in Pool 1. Two of Munster’s three remaining fixtures in January are against winless French champions Racing 92 as well as table toppers Glasgow.
Munster had seemed set to become the second visiting side to record a European Cup win at Welford Road in 35 attempts when a 75th minute try from Niall Scannell, somewhat fortunately converted by out-half Tyler Bleyendaal had helped the visitors into a precious 16-15 lead.
However, Williams dramatic late penalty ensured Munster had to make-do with taking just a losing bonus point from their trip to the Aviva Premiership giants.
The sides had been level, 6-6, at half-time.
LEICESTER TIGERS: George Worth; Peter Betham, Jack Roberts, Manu Tuilagi, Adam Thompstone; Owen Williams, Ben Youngs; Ellis Genge, Tom Youngs (capt), Pat Cilliers, Ed Slater, Graham Kitchener, Luke Hamilton, Brendon O'Connor, Lachlan McCaffrey. Replacements: Harry Thacker, Logovi'i Mulipola, Greg Bateman, Mike Fitzgerald, Mike Williams, Will Evans, Sam Harrison, Tom Brady.
MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, Peter O'Mahony (capt), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander. Replacements: Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Jack O'Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Andrew Conway.
REFEREE: Pascal Gauzere (France)