European Rugby Champions Cup: Leicester Tigers 18-16 Munster

Owen Williams had an agonising wait as he watched to see if his kick would bisect the sticks
Owen Williams had an agonising wait as he watched to see if his kick would bisect the sticks
Leicester (6) 18
Pens: O Williams 6
Munster (6) 16
Try: N Scannell Con: Bleyendaal Pens: Bleyendaal 3

Owen Williams kicked a late, long-range penalty to secure victory for Leicester over Munster and atone for last week's 38-0 defeat at Thomond Park.

The score was 6-6 at half-time, courtesy of two penalties apiece from Williams and Tyler Bleyendaal.

When Simon Zebo was sent to the sin-bin with 15 minutes remaining, Williams kicked Leicester into a six-point lead.

Niall Scannell went over to put Munster ahead, but Williams held his nerve to keep Tigers' Champions Cup hopes alive.

Glasgow lead Pool One on 13 points after their victory over Racing, with Munster on 11 points and Leicester third on eight points.

The final whistle was celebrated with a mixture of joy and relief by the Leicester players, including lock Ed Slater (right)
The final whistle was celebrated with a mixture of joy and relief by the Leicester players, including lock Ed Slater (right)

Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill described his club's heaviest-ever European defeat last Saturday as "unacceptable" and another loss would have all but ended their hopes of advancing from Pool One.

Two penalties from Bleyendaal gave Munster a 6-0 lead, and when Manu Tuilagi was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Rory Scannell it seemed it would get worse for the hosts.

But Leicester made light of their numerical disadvantage, Williams slotting two penalties to level the score before Tuilagi, who was also shown a yellow card at Munster last week, returned to the fray.

A mistake by Tigers centre Jack Roberts almost gifted the visitors three points on the stroke of half-time.

Roberts thought 40 minutes had elapsed and kicked the ball into touch, but there was still time for a line-out, from which Munster won a penalty. However, Bleyendaal pushed his kick wide.

But when full-back George Worth kicked straight into touch from outside his 22 and Brendon O'Connor was penalised at the resulting line-out, Bleyendaal did not let Leicester off the hook.

Williams, playing at fly-half in place of the injured Freddie Burns, levelled the scores again after Donnacha Ryan went off his feet at a ruck.

And when Williams kicked a fourth penalty, after a fine break by Roberts, the hosts led for the first time.

Leicester extended their lead when Munster coughed the ball up on the Tigers line, Adam Thompstone picked up the loose ball and raced clear.

The flying Zebo tackled Thompstone just after he had kicked ahead but it was ruled a deliberate late challenge and the Munster full-back was sent to the sin-bin.

Williams popped over the penalty but 14-man Munster came rumbling back. And when hooker Scannell dived over from close range and Bleyendaal scuffed his conversion between the posts, Leicester's goose looked cooked.

But Leicester were awarded a penalty just inside their half with two minutes remaining, Ben Youngs pointed to the posts after a brief discussion with Williams, and the Welshman made no mistake.

Post-match reaction

Match-winner Owen Williams: "I was thinking, 'pick a target, get your head down and just get through the ball - do what you do in every training session'.

"Ed Slater said to kick for the corner and I said, 'no, just give me the ball, I've got this'. That's what I get paid to do and that's what I've got to do.

"We felt embarrassed after last week's performance. We owed the coaching staff, the fans and ourselves a lot this week. Mathematically it's possible to go through and we'll give it everything we've got."

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill: "I don't think a kick at goal should dictate whether anybody loses their job or not. But that is the nature of the sport.

"Last week wasn't acceptable. We went into a meeting on Monday and I asked the players to write down one word to describe the performance 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."

Line-ups

Leicester: Worth, Betham, Roberts, Tuilagi, Thompstone, O. Williams, B. Youngs, Genge, T. Youngs, Cilliers, Slater, Kitchener, Hamilton, O'Connor, McCaffrey.

Replacements: Bateman for Cilliers (51), Thacker for T Youngs (73)

Not Used: Mulipola, Fitzgerald, M. Williams, Evans, Harrison, Brady.

Sin Bin: Tuilagi (30).

Munster: Zebo, Sweetnam, Taute, R. Scannell, Earls, Bleyendaal, Murray, Kilcoyne, N. Scannell, J. Ryan, D. Ryan, B. Holland, P. O'Mahony, O'Donnell, Stander.

Replacements: Cronin for Kilcoyne (51), Kleyn for B. Holland (51).

Not Used: Marshall, Archer, O'Donoghue, Williams, Keatley, Conway.

Sin Bin: Zebo (66).

Ref: Pascal Gauzere (France).

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