A try deep in injury-time in controversial circumstances saw Leicester Tigers snatch a late 34-28 win over Munster at Welford Road on Friday night.
In a game that saw referee David Rose award a total of 45 free kicks and penalties – two of those penalty awards were penalty tries to the home side – and Munster score four tries, the decisive score came late on when Leicester took a quick tap penalty for Tom Croft to squeeze in at the corner.
When Scott Deasy converted Damian Varley’s 64th-minute try to put Munster one point in front at 28-27, it was no more than they deserved given that it was the fourth time they had crossed the Leicester line.
The Magners League champions then had to withstand fierce Leicester pressure, which they did with tremendously brave defence, and when they orchestrated a break out with some slick handling it looked like they were heading for victory.
And when Manu Tuilagi shoulder charged Danny Barnes, the least that was expected was a penalty.
Instead, referee Rose awarded a scrum to Leicester for the knock on and that provided the launch pad for Tigers’ match-winning score.
Munster trailed 13-7 at the end of an opening half that was highlighted by a superb 9th minute try from Felix Jones. The Ireland ‘A’ full-back threw a clever dummy to open a gap before showing neat footwork to score on the left.
Leicester went further ahead early in the second half when Rose awarded the first of two penalty tries.
What may gall Munster supporters is the fact that in the opening half, the referee penalised the Leicester scrum four successive times, metres from their own line – but in that instance he did not deem Leicester’s offence worthy of a similar sanction.
Munster’s response to that 44th minute setback that had them 20-7 in arrears was to come right downfield and for Denis Hurley to score off a quick tap penalty.
Peter Stringer’s perfect box kick was raced onto, minutes later again, by Hurley to put Munster in front but shortly after Donnacha Ryan was yellow carded and Leicester were awarded their second penalty try.
Replacement hooker Varley put Munster in front again and centre Deasy again added the points. He missed a penalty shortly afterwards.
Munster looked to have weathered the storm before their former player and Ireland international Jeremy Staunton had the final say, converting Croft’s try.
MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Danny Barnes, Scott Deasy, Tom Gleeson, Denis Hurley, Paul Warwick, Peter Stringer, Marcus Horan, Denis Fogarty, Julien Brugnaut, Mick O’Driscoll (capt), Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy.
Replacements: Damien Varley, Ian Nagle, Tommy O’Donnell, Toby Morland, Jeremy Manning, Dave Ryan, James Coughlan, Danny Riordan.