European Rugby Champions Cup: Munster 38-0 Leicester Tigers

Munster

_92916900_standerleicester

maintained their winning start to the European Champions Cup as they handed Leicester Tigers a record defeat in the competition.

The Pool One game was over by half-time after fly-half Tyler Bleyendaal’s 14 points and a Simon Zebo try.

Jaco Taute added two second-half tries and also created the late penalty try as he was hauled down by George Worth.

Two-time winners Leicester’s previous worst European defeat was a 41-7 drubbing by Ulster in 2012.

Saturday’s result also brought back memories of the only other time the Tigers were held scoreless in a European Cup game, when they were beaten 33-0 by Ulster in January 2004.

Munster’s win keeps them on top of Pool One as they move to 10 points despite having played a game less than Glasgow and Leicester, with the Tigers now six points behind the leaders.

_92917770_manumunsterManu Tuilagi attempts to get past Keith Earls at Thomond Park
Manu Tuilagi struggled to make an impression on his return to action

Tuilagi has frustrating return to action

The match saw Manu Tuilagi make his first Leicester start since the opening day of the season but the England centre’s frustrating day was summed up by a 59th-minute yellow card after charging into Jean Kleyn at a ruck.

By that stage, the game was long up for the Tigers with Munster already 31-0 ahead.

Leicester had no answer to the Munster pack’s ferocious work-rate, while home half-backs Conor Murray and the Bleyendaal fully exploited the constant go-forward ball that they were presented with.

Leicester demolished at the breakdown

The Tigers endured a torrid afternoon at the breakdown as they conceded a series of penalties.

One of those infringements allowed Bleyendaal to kick Munster into a ninth-minute lead and three further penalties allowed the New Zealander to increase the home team’s advantage to 12-0 by the 27th minute.

Things went from bad to worse for Leicester as lock Ed Slater was sin-binned in the 34th minute and Munster immediately exploited the player advantage as Murray’s superb no-look inside pass set up Zebo for a close-range finish after man of the match CJ Stander’s initial burst.

Leicester attempted to rally after the break and finally threatened the Munster line but a turnover saw the home side break downfield to produce more pressure, which eventually resulted in Taute’s first try after a well-constructed line-out maul.

Taute notched his second try five minutes later after the impressive Darren Sweetnam’s charge and only Worth’s foul play prevented the South African from completing a hat-trick, with referee Romain Poite awarding the 72nd-minute penalty try.

Worth’s challenge on Taute saw the full-back become Leicester’s third sin-binning in an indisciplined display by the Tigers.

Post-match reaction

Munster’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus: “We never thought about getting five points out of it. Our aim was to always to win the game, so it is an absolute bonus to get the fourth try at the end.

“We are really happy with the performance, but I’m sure when we wake up (on Sunday) morning we know we have to go over there in a week’s time. We won’t get carried away.”

Leicester’s director of rugby Richard Cockerill: “The reality, and it starts with me, is that the performance was not acceptable. 38-0 is not where we want to be.

“We have some important players missing, but that is no excuse for where the performance was.

“The one good point is that we bring Munster to Welford Road next week.

“We can turn it around.”

What’s next in Pool One?

Leicester will have an immediate chance for revenge in next Saturday’s return game at Welford Road.

Line-ups

Munster: Zebo, Sweetnam, Taute, Scannell, Earls, Bleyendaal, Murray; Kilcoyne, Scannell, Ryan, Ryan, Holland, O’Mahony (capt), O’Donnell, Stander.

Replacements: Marshall for N Scannell 73 mins, Du Toit for Kilcoyne 58, Archer for Ryan 66, Kleyn for Holland 58, O’Donoghue for O’Donnell 58, Williams, Keatley for Bleyendaal 73, Conway for Zebo 68.

Leicester: Worth, Thompstone, Tuilagi, Williams, Betham, Burns, Genge, T Youngs, Mulipola, Slater, Kitchener, Fitzgerald, O’Connor, McCaffrey.

Replacements: McGuigan for T Youngs 60, Cilliers for Genge 75, Hamilton for Fitzgerald 43, Evans for McCaffrey 67, Harrison for B Youngs 56, Roberts for Burns 52, Brady for Tuilagi 69.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

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