European Champions Cup: Munster 33-10 Leicester

Rhys Marshall
New Zealander Marshall scored the opening try at Thomond Park
European Rugby Champions Cup
Munster (23) 33
Tries: Marshall, Zebo, O'Mahony, Cloete Cons: Keatley 2 Pens: Keatley 3
Leicester (3) 10
Try: Thacker Con: Ford Pen: Ford

Munster maintained their unbeaten record in this season's Champions Cup and moved top of Pool 4 with victory over Leicester at Thomond Park.

Boosted by the return of five Ireland internationals, the home side led 23-3 at the break after tries from hooker Rhys Marshall and full-back Simon Zebo.

Peter O'Mahony crossed before Harry Thacker scored Tigers' only try, but Chris Cloete secured the bonus point.

Munster lead Leicester by four points before next Sunday's Welford Road tie.

Munster were behind Leicester on points difference before Saturday's game, following an opening draw with Castres and a narrow victory over Racing 92.

But in new head coach Johann van Graan's first European game in charge, his side looked in total control from the off.

Led by returning captain O'Mahony, they suffocated the visitors at the breakdown, with South African flanker Cloete impressing at open-side in his first Champions Cup game for Munster.

Marshall burst through following a line-out for the hosts' first try before fly-half Ian Keatley produced a brilliant chip-kick that was collected by Zebo in open space.

Munster
Ireland and Lions wing Simon Zebo was in sparkling form for Munster

Ford got Leicester's only points of the half before Tom Youngs was penalised for a neck roll in the ruck and Keatley once again obliged to restore the 20-point advantage at the break.

The hosts lost Ireland winger Andrew Conway to a head injury early in the second half after a heavy clash with Tigers' full-back Telusa Veainu, who was also forced off the field.

And although Leicester were much improved in the second half, their hard work at the breakdown saw no reward as O'Mahony added a third try before the hour mark.

Marshall ripped the ball in the tackle to allow the hosts to break as Zebo exploited the mis-match against Tigers' hooker Dan Cole and captain O'Mahony finished well on the wing.

Matt O'Connor's side entertained brief hopes of a comeback as Thacker dived over after a powerful Leicester maul, but Munster secured the bonus point with a drive of their own.

Munster head coach Johann van Graan: "I thought we started the game pretty well, I'm very happy with the win first, and the bonus point. We will enjoy the win.

"We knew this was going to be a big clash, two of the best teams in Europe. Just look at the history between the two clubs.

"Like I said last week, you never take a win for granted and come back on Monday and start again at zero."

Leicester head coach Matt O'Connor: "We were inaccurate, you cannot come here and be inaccurate. I thought we were poor, we didn't look after the ball well enough and we turned over the ball 20 times.

"Munster took their chances in the first half, they were very clinical and accurate. From there, they were very diligent and cynical - they killed the ball whenever we had opportunities. That made it hard for us to score.

"Without stating the obvious, next Sunday's game is really important."

CHAMPIONS CUP POOL 4
TeamPlayedWonDrawnLostForAgainstBonus PtsPoints
Munster32106434111
Castres3111628417
Leicester3102828426
Racing 923102424826

Leicester: Veainu; Thompstone, Smith, Tait, May; Ford, Youngs; Traynor, Youngs (c), Cole, Fitzgerald, Kitchener, Mapapalangi, Hamilton, Kalamafoni.

Replacements: Thacker, Mulipola, Baumann, Barrow, Williams, Harrison, Ford, Malouf.

Munster: Zebo; Conway, Arnold, Scannell, Wootton; Keatley, Murray; Kilcoyne, Marshall, Archer, Kleyn, Holland, O'Mahony (c), Cloete, Stander.

Replacements: O'Byrne, Scott, Ryan, O'Shea, O'Donoghue, Williams, Hanrahan, Darren Sweetnam.

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