Record Falls To the Right Side
22nd January 2007 By Munster Rugby
To the victor the spoils and in this case deservedly so and also in sporting terms, they don’t come any bigger than this. Leicester Tigers will go down in history as the only side to ever have defeated Munster in Thomond Park in the Heineken Cup.
There will be some consolation – but not a lot – that Munster are still in the quarter-finals of the competition. But of far greater consolation to a special group of players is the fact that their proud record went to a superb team performance from a side cut from the same cloth as them.
All week long Martin Corry, a man whose honesty during England’s recent international travails was admirable, adopted the absolutely correct tone ahead of what might end up being the defining game of the Tiger’s season. Commentators can talk up the Premiership all they like but the Heineken Cup is where it’s.
Leicester as you would expect arrived in Limerick without any bluster or bravado. They had nothing to declare except an undeclared ambition to get to the quarters and write themselves into the history books in the process. They scored on both counts. Losing simply was not an option and they played from start to finish like a side possessed.
In many ways to use a well worn phrase, they out-Munstered Munster displaying many of the traits that have made the title holders rightly famous and revered.
Whenever Munster looked like gaining any momentum, they showed their street cred by having their players feign injury thereby styming Munster’s momentum. And they protected their inexperienced fly-half very cleverly, using either Seru Rabeni or Alesana Tuilagi in defensive set plays. In contrast they sent their big men running down Ronan O’Gara’s channel, first ball Corry took he smashed – elbow up – into the Munster ten and thereafter this proved a popular Tiger trail.
And yet, given the amount of pressure the Tigers managed to put on the Munster set piece, Munster were still in with a chance of snatching a share of the spoils right to the bruising end. In the closing minutes they set up a series of rumbles for the Leicester line but found wave after wave of green shirted players ready willing and able to put their bodies into gaps where most people wouldn’t even dream of.
Leicester deserved their victory of that there is no doubt. The marvellous Heineken Cup Thomond Park record is gone and the players whose watch it went on will be devastated. But we should salute them for protecting it for so long. And least they need reminding the gave it up to a club that is a mirror image of themselves