Munster 33-10 Leicester: New boss Johann van Graan leads home side to heavy Tigers win
Last Updated: 10/12/17 1:08pm
Johann van Graan enjoyed a memorable Champions Cup coaching debut as his Munster side thumped Leicester 33-10 at Thomond Park.
Beaten 38-0 in this corresponding fixture last season, Leicester's Limerick woes continued as European debutant Chris Cloete's 67th-minute bonus-point score moved Munster four points clear at the top of Pool 4.
Rhys Marshall's first European try and Simon Zebo's 58th in Munster red were the highlights of a clinical opening half from the hosts, with Ian Keatley kicking the other points for a 23-3 half-time lead.
A lone George Ford penalty was all Tigers could muster as Munster dominated the breakdown, while Tigers captain Tom Youngs was fortunate to avoid the sin-bin for a neck roll and then a shoulder charge just before the break.
Turnover ball teed up Munster skipper Peter O'Mahony for a 55th-minute try out wide, and although Leicester replacement Harry Thacker scored from a maul, South African Cloete did likewise just three minutes later to ensure the maximum return for Van Graan's men.
Both defences gave little away in the early exchanges until Andrew Conway countered brilliantly from a Telusa Veainu kick, with Ford hauling him down close to the 22. The subsequent pressure yielded a simple seventh-minute penalty which Keatley slotted over.
Ben Youngs had Leicester operating at a high tempo, with number eight Sione Kalamafoni busy as a carrier but the hosts ended the first quarter 10 points to the good.
Hooker Marshall juggled a Conor Murray pass while managing to slip past Tom Youngs and Luke Hamilton and reach the try-line from 10 metres out.
O'Mahony won two of Munster's three turnovers up to the half-hour mark, by which time Keatley had drilled a long-range penalty over and then chipped over the top for the onrushing Zebo to touch down, badly exposing full-back Veainu's positioning.
Ford and Keatley swapped penalties as the 20-point gap remained in place, and Munster started the second half just as strongly, Jean Kleyn just missing out on a try near the right corner.
Turnovers continued to kill Leicester, Marshall ripping the ball back and the visitors were caught for numbers on the right where Zebo drew in Jonny May and linked with Darren Sweetnam who gave O'Mahony a simple finish by the corner flag.
Keatley sent the conversion wide and Leicester, on a rare visit to the Munster 22, turned a gilt-edged maul opportunity into a try at the second attempt. A Marshall rip denied them initially, but the second lineout - won by Graham Kitchener - resulted in Thacker crashing over for Ford to convert.
However, the Irish province slammed the door shut on any potential comeback when a well-executed maul saw Cloete ground the ball under a pile of bodies.
Twenty three points remained the difference up to the final whistle as Munster, mindful of denying Leicester any momentum to take into next week's return match, kept them out from a frantic late spell of forward pressure.