Belfast Telegraph

Tigers applauded as they bounce back from Munster mauling

Leicester Tigers 18 Munster 16

By Andrew Baldock

Munster boss Rassie Erasmus was full of praise for Leicester after six Owen Williams penalties clinched a dramatic victory for the home side at Welford Road, his final kick coming in the last minute.

Munster remain in second place in Pool One, two points behind leaders Glasgow with a game in hand.

Erasmus said: "Even if that kick didn't go over, I feel, overall, they played better than us on the day.

"I think we are growing into a steady and a solid team. It's a very tight pool currently. We've got a game in hand, but there are two away games coming, so it's tough to go forward.

"It was a Leicester team that were playing for survival, and they deserved to win the game."

Richard Cockerill hailed his players after they fought back from one of Leicester's darkest days to keep their Champions Cup quarter-final hopes alive a week after they lost by 38 points to the same opponents.

The Limerick result piled pressure on Cockerill and his players, even leading some pundits to suggest that he could be hanging on in terms of his job as Tigers rugby director.

"I don't think a kick at goal should dictate whether anybody loses their job or not," Cockerill said.

"That is the nature of the sport. If the margins are that fine, then it is a tough place to be. The result shows we are a proper club and we work hard at what we do, and last week wasn't acceptable. I don't think anyone tried to get away from that performance.

"We went into a meeting on Monday and I asked the players to write down one word to describe the performance (in Limerick) and most of it was 'embarrassing'.

"They are good blokes, they are good players. They didn't mean to play that poorly. Sometimes it happens.

"We are a very good club, we pay our own bills, we own our own stadium, there are lots of things that are so good about this place, and I think it hurts the fabric of the club when people are just waiting to poke holes in it.

"We have been here a long time, and we will be here in another 100 years."

Munster hooker Niall Scannell's 75th-minute try, which Tyler Bleyendaal converted, looked to have thwarted Leicester, but Williams struck after CJ Stander was penalised.

It meant Leicester ended Munster's 100% Pool One record heading into next month's final two rounds of group fixtures.

Tigers have lost only one of their last 34 European games at Welford Road and, despite seeing England centre Manu Tuilagi sin-binned for the second successive game, this time following a shoulder charge on Munster's Rory Scannell, they ultimately delivered.

Reflecting on his match-winning kick, Williams said: "It was a big kick, but that is what I get paid to do. It is my job.

"I just concentrated on my routine and striking the ball, and thankfully it went over. I was quite calm afterwards. I thought I would be jumping for joy, but it was just relief to be honest."

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