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    Post Tigers Match Press....

    <t></t><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="465"><t><tr><td><t></t><table style="width: 465px; height: 100px;" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><t><tr><td valign="top"><t></t><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="465"><t><tr><td align="left" valign="top">@@@@SPAN>The Sunday Times@@@@/SPAN></td>

    <td align="right" valign="top">@@@@SPAN>January 21, 2007@@@@/SPAN></td>

    <h1>Munster 6 Leicester 13: Tigers storm Irish citadel</h1>

    @@@@SPAN>Peter O’Reilly at Thomond Park@@@@/SPAN>

    <td height="5"></td>
    <t></t><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="465">
    <td valign="top"><div>Once
    again, the tournament organisers stage-managed it perfectly. Here were
    the two teams that have given most to this competition, and the last
    game of consequence at this shabby but storied stadium. And quite a
    story they provided, too. Leicester, with four Irishmen in their side,
    bullied Munster off their own patch to end a 26-game winning streak
    here in the Heineken Cup, win Pool Two and secure a home quarter-final.

    There was some frantic calculating in an impossibly tense final
    stage, but the bottom line was that the Tigers were well worth their
    victory — wonderfully abrasive, tactically brilliant and fantastically
    efficient. This was all about fire in the belly and ice in the veins,
    the very characteristics Munster cherish. It always looked like it
    would take a special team to win here, and Leicester showed just why
    they have won this tournament twice.

    <t></t>Leicester had lost Daryl
    Gibson to injury leading into the game yet looked utterly unfazed. Can
    a visiting team ever have made such a composed start here in Limerick?
    The supposedly vulnerable Ian Humphreys started by sending Dan Hipkiss
    on a 40m run, then landed a penalty when Donncha O’Callaghan obstructed
    at Munster’s first throw-in. A 3-0 lead in the fourth minute, playing
    into a stiff breeze — perfect.

    Leicester’s tactics were obvious: squeeze Munster at the
    set-pieces, force them to tap lineout ball and pour through on Peter
    Stringer; the scrum-half found himself in a clamp with Julian White
    early on and it didn’t get easier. Ronan O’Gara found Martin Corry
    charging at him, elbow up, and though referee Joël Jutge gave the
    penalty, O’Gara was wide with his long-range effort.

    Evidently, Munster didn’t fancy their chances of going through
    the middle. On the one occasion they did, with David Wallace’s inside
    pass to O’Gara, it forced the irrepressible Shane Jennings to kill the
    ball under his own posts. At last, 21 minutes in, the Munster faithful
    had something to cheer. Within two minutes, they had been stunned into
    silence. Having forced a knock-on at the restart, Leicester did a
    number on the Munster scrum, working the angle for Harry Ellis.

    The scrum-half blasted O’Gara aside, then Martin
    Castrogiovanni surged onwards. But the key contribution came from Lewis
    Moody, who got his hands through the tackle and fed Geordan Murphy
    running on a tight angle. The full-back had the momentum to get through
    Stringer’s tackle and score.

    As if out of sympathy for Munster, the rain got heavier. But
    the force was against them. O’Gara’s long diagonal bounced against the
    corner flag, bringing a scrum 65 metres back down the pitch. And when
    they did set up a prolonged spell in the Leicester third, they lacked
    the necessary control.

    Their problems were illustrated by a series of attacking
    scrums. When Leicester wheeled them, Paul O’Connell complained and the
    scrum became a penalty against. And when Denis Leamy picked up at the
    base under enormous pr


    Park life: Thomond was all about the people</font>

    Sunday January 21st 2007</font>

    FEW would argue Irish rugby at representative level has not benefitted
    from professionalism. Despite Munster and Leinster losing over the past
    two days, the standing of the game at this level is at an all-time
    high, both at home and abroad, and with few, if any signs of
    deterioration. </font>

    Several thorny issues have been successfully grappled with, the
    centralisation of contracts with the national governing body being the
    obvious, and by far the most crucially important, example. </font>

    To the ordinary fan, and the ever-increasing number of ordinary sports
    fans who enjoy the television spectacle, the degree of change which the
    game has undergone is best exemplified by the closure of grounds for
    reconstruction. Lansdowne has been in mothballs since the turn of the
    year, but still awaits conclusion of the planning processes; Thomond
    has seen its last on-pitch activity and is ready to yield to the
    breaker's ball; and Donnybrook will soon follow. </font>

    Nostalgia and sentimentality abound in relation to all three, and we
    all have our own personal and idiosyncratic favourite memories of each
    ground. For example, two of my own personal favourites of Lansdowne
    would, believe it or not, be the 2005 FAI Cup success of the team I
    have supported since I was in short pants, Drogheda United; another
    would be watchng the all-conquering Waterford team of the 1960s
    entertain the 'Lisbon Lions' of Glasgow Celtic in the European Cup. </font>

    No doubt opportunity will arise for an exercise in Donnybrook nostalgia
    in due course, but right up at the top will have to be a sunny late
    summer afternnon in 1996 when Mike Ruddock, then coach of Leinster,
    asked me as manager to go along to an under-20 Leinster v Ulster game.
    My mission: to see how a young fella by the name of Shane Horgan fared
    out on the wing, away from his accustomed position in the centre. </font>

    I happened to meet with Tony Ward on the way in and as we watched the
    game together we were both totally enthralled, not only by Horgan but
    also by a little-known centre named O'Driscoll. Mike and I subsequently
    had to do the first professional deal of Brian's career when we
    refunded him the price of his forthcoming holiday after we had
    persuaded him not to take it and to join up with the Leinster Senior
    Squad instead. </font>

    Thomond though was different. Different because, unlike the others, it
    was always an away venue. Different because, at senior interpro level
    anyway, it only came round once in every four years, rather than every
    second year as with Ravenhill and The Sportsground. Different because,
    well simply because it was THOMOND. </font>

    It was where the rugby was at its hardest on the field, and where the
    banter was at its fairest and discussion at its most informed off the
    field. </font>

    What a pity it was that yesterday evening it didn't get the send off
    everyone wanted - a Munster win to preserve a proud European record at
    the venue. But fair play to Leicester, they needed a win and they
    weren't prepared to



      Reds lose their proud record on Thomond's final night</font>

      Sunday January 21st 2007</font>

      TOMMY CONLON </font>

      at Thomond Park </font>

      ON the night the old fortress closed for the final time, the old
      fortress fell. Twenty-six times unbeaten in the European Cup at Thomond
      Park, they just needed one more win last night to complete a pristine
      record. </font>

      an anti-climax. What a way to go out. This one will hurt in the south a
      long time after the mathematical permutations of Pool Four are
      forgotten. But those permutations were of more immediate relevance to
      the Munster team and coach and last night's shattering defeat means
      they finished second in the group: to defend their title, the champions
      will have to do it the hard way. They will have to go on the road. </font>

      no more than their vast public, the Munster players will remember this
      match for a long time after this year's tournament is consigned to
      history. It will haunt them that they were on the pitch when the
      unbeaten record was surrendered. </font>

      old version of Thomond Park will now disappear beneath the bulldozer
      and Ronan O'Gara was asked afterwards if the pressure of maintaining
      their unbeaten record at the old ground had played on their minds. </font>

      "No it didn't," he replied, "but it will now I think. We made a balls
      of it, so that's something we have to deal with now, the 22 (players).
      It was a great day last May, it's not a great night tonight." </font>

      a powerful, psyched-up, brazen Leicester team, the home side could
      summon up no more of the old spirit. They weren't allowed. They were
      beaten, and well-beaten. Outpowered, out-thought and worst of all
      out-fought, they went out not with the proverbial bang but the dreaded
      whimper. </font>

      They didn't score a try, Leicester scored two. They didn't score at all
      in the second half. They managed two penalties in the entire game. </font>

      Where did Munster fall down, O'Gara was asked? "Everywhere," he replied. </font>

      endgame summed everything up - symbolically and actually. Deep in
      injury time Munster made one desperate push for the Leicester line. A
      converted try would have yielded a draw and salvaged their pride. First
      Anthony Foley limped off, having been summoned from the bench early in
      the second half to bring some badly-needed brimstone to a pack that had
      been bullied and bludgeoned for the 80-plus minutes. It was his 79th
      match in the Heineken Cup. No one had come to symbolise Munster's
      glorious 12-year campaign in Europe more than Foley. </font>

      with the scrum on the Leicester line, they were driven back for the
      umpteenth time and when the ball was thrown out it was spilled, knocked
      forward. Still they got another chance some six minutes into injury
      time - the ball was knocked forward again. The errors and turnovers
      that had haunted them throughout the game were there at the dea



        <h1> Tigers storm fortress for historic win </h1>
        @@@@SPAN>By Paul Ackford@@@@/SPAN>
        <div style="float: left;">@@@@SPAN>Last Updated: @@@@SPAN style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">11:45pm GMT@@@@/SPAN>20/01/2007@@@@/SPAN></div>
        @@@@SPAN>Match details

        Comment on this story
        Read comments

        Munster 6 Leicester 13

        fabulous, fabulous victory. Leicester outfought, outthought and
        outmuscled Munster at a venue where they had never lost a European Cup
        match. It is impossible to overstate the significance of this result.
        Leicester now march on to a home quarter-final, while Munster are
        forced to turn to the road and travel to defend the trophy they won so
        magnificently last season.<t></t>

        there was more to this match than longevity in a tournament. Leicester
        destroyed a myth last night, battered down the doors of a great
        institution. Munster had gone 13 games unbeaten in the Heineken Cup
        before the Tigers turned up and this was their last game in a stadium
        that will now be redeveloped. It was a memorable team performance that
        saw off Munster. There were many fine individual efforts, but it was
        the collective that mattered. From the front row through to the back
        three, Leicester refused to be cowed. Their discipline was remarkable
        and they remained resilient throughout in the scrummage, in their
        line-out and in their defence, which was solid.

        also played the better rugby. Leicester scored two tries, Munster none.
        And although Munster had their moments, notably at the end when they
        pressed in a series of heart-stopping drives, not even their most
        one-eyed supporter would argue that Leicester did not deserve their
        victory. The Munster forwards did not fire and, even when folk hero
        Anthony Foley came off the bench on the hour, they never got to grips
        with the Leicester pack.

        The Munster error-count
        was unusually high. Paul O'Connell, their captain, was penalised for
        back chat as well as unaccountably turning down the chance of an easy
        three points when his side were 8-6 adrift. Ronan O'Gara never bossed
        the game, Shaun Payne was vulnerable under the high ball, while David
        Wallace and Denis Leamy were kept in check by the Leicester back row.
        At the end when Munster were searching for that last final frantic
        effort it was typical of their day that a dropped pass by wing Ian
        Dowling allowed Leicester to regroup.

        started with wonderful composure. Sale were the last English side to
        come here with aspirations of an upset and were blown away inside the
        first quarter. No such issues for Leicester. Right from the kick-off
        when Dan Hipkiss gathered and launched himself at the heart of the
        Munster midfield, Leicester's intentions were clear.

        the wind they concentrated on minimising mistakes and attacking down
        the channel defended by O'Gara. Alesana Tuilagi and Ceru Rabeni were
        the battering rams, smashing into contact, dragging the Munster
        back-row infield to defend. Leicester controlled



          <div ="line">
          Munster 6-13 Leicester




          <td valign="bottom">


          By James Standley






          <div ="bo">


          <div ="bo">

          Munster 0 (6)


          O'Gara 2

          Leicester 13 ([img]smileys/cool.gif[/img]


          Murphy, Smith




          Leicester created history as they became the first team to beat Munster
          in the Heineken Cup at Thomond Park, topping Pool Four in the process.

          Ian Humphreys and Ronan O'Gara landed a penalty apiece before Geordan Murphy's try put the Tigers 8-3 in front.

          O'Gara cut the gap to 8-6 at the break but the European champions
          spurned a penalty in the second half and Ollie Smith's try sealed
          Leicester's win.

          Munster still made the last eight as one of the two best runners-up.

          <div ="bo">

          From the moment Leicester centre Dan Hipkiss sliced through the Munster
          line from deep in his own 22 after just 30 seconds it was clear the
          Tigers were up for it.

          And they took the lead after three minutes when
          Humphreys, younger brother of O'Gara's long-time rival for the Ireland
          number 10 shirt David, landed a penalty.

          O'Gara missed a long-range kick after 11 minutes but
          the Munster number 10 was soon on target from in front of the posts
          after he had cut through from an inside pass.

          However, Leicester were back in front within three
          minutes, claiming the first try of the night as Lewis Moody's fine pass
          gave Murphy the chance to finish in style.

          Both teams were defying the wet and windy conditions
          to produce some fine rugby but as the game passed the half hour mark
          the rain began to hammer down.

          O'Gara gave the crowd something to cheer when he
          judged the wind perfectly to trim the gap to two points with a penalty
          right on the stroke of half-time.

          Leicester had held the upper hand physically during
          the first half and although Munster showed signs straight after the
          break of getting to grips with the visitors, the Leicester pack
          reasserted itself.

          The Tigers eight earned Humphreys a chance to stretch the lead but he was off target with a 55th-minute penalty.


            21/01/2007 12:55 Munster 6 - 13 Leicester Tigers Heineken Cup |

            Sat, 20 Jan 2007 17:35


            Created on 20 Jan 07

            Leicester made history by becoming the first team to win at Munster's Thomond Park in the Heineken Cup, but more importantly the Tigers also secured a home quarter-final. The reigning European champions had won 25 successive games in Limerick and their first five games in Pool Four, but were outmuscled and outplayed by a fiercely committed Tigers side. Munster will still be in the last eight for a record-equalling ninth time, but will have to win away from home if they are to continue the defence of their trophy in the semi-finals. Leicester's forwards were tremendous - particularly at the scrum which they completely dominated. Despite playing into a strong wind and frequently driving rain, Leicester took control from the outset and probably felt a little aggrieved to only lead 8-6 at the break. They dominated Munster physically - virtually unheard of, particularly on the champions' home patch - and seemed to win virtually every contact area. But the Tigers also looked more creative with ball in hand and Dan Hipkiss set the tone with a jinking 60-metre burst from within his own 22. That run set up a line-out and Mick O'Driscoll was penaised for pulling it down, giving Ian Humphreys the chance to give Leicester a 3-0 lead with a nerveless penalty. On 11 minutes Martin Castrogiovanni was penalised for a late shoulder hit on Ronan O'Gara but the Ireland stand-off could not punish him and missed a rare try at goal. But on 20 minutes he did level the scores, making the break himself off an inside pass from half-back partner Peter Stringer and earning a penalty for hands in the ruck. Two minutes later Leicester had the only try of the half from an impressive move off the back of a scrum. Harry Ellis found fellow England man Lewis Moody peeling away from the set-piece and the flanker's brilliant up-and-over offload sent Ireland's Geordan Murphy crashing over for the score. Munster were rattled and O'Gara hardly helped by kicking the ball dead from inside his own half. But the Irishmen did rally for a spell of sustained pressure in the closing moments of the half as they desperately



              <h2>Tigers bare their teeth in Limerick</h2><div>Saturday January 20 2007</div>Leicester frustrate the champs - and the Ospreys

              quest to defend the European crown hit their skids in dramatic style at
              Thomond Park on Saturday as Leicester Tigers pulled off a brutal 13-6
              victory that leaves the reigning Heineken Cup heading for the door
              marked 'visitors' come the quarter-finals.

              <div> <t></t><table border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0" width="100%">
              <td align="center" valign="top">

              <div>Italian Stallion: Stringer struggles to rein in Castrogiovanni</div>
              if (OAS_listpos.indexOf('2') -> </div>
              @@@@SPAN name="intelliTxt" id="intelliTXT">With Irish Taoiseach
              Bertie Ahern looking on, the Tigers bullied their hosts into a series
              of uncharacteristic mistakes and bouts of tactical recklessness as they
              bullocked their way to a play-off at Welford Road.
              This was Munster's farewell performance at Thomond Park
              before the developers move in, and they were hoping to punctuate the
              arena's era with a 27th consecutive Heineken Cup victory - alas, it was
              not to be.
              And Munster's misery drifted off across the Irish Sea to
              Swansea for Leicester's win derails the European hopes of the Ospreys.
              Leicester has never been the most popular club outside of the English
              Midlands, butonly Jade Goody had less friends now.
              Love them or loathe them, one just has to admire the men from
              Leicester. They took a simple gameplan to Limerick and executed it to
              It was all about brute force in the first half as they took
              on the wind and Munster's fabled forwards with a hunger bordering on
              the alarming.
              Mental strength also played its part.
              Martin Corry, the deposed England captain, showed iron-willed
              leadership for going for a scrum in the shadow of the sticks. The early
              gamble paid off as Geordan Murphy dived over for a try at the end of a
              well-worked move.
              Munster found themselves in a similar position with just 15
              minutes to play and just two points down. Munster's talismanic skipper
              Paul O'Connell followed Corry's example, but it failed to produce the
              same result.
              In fact, the aftermath saw Ollie Smith cross the whitewash at
              the opposite end of the pitch. It was that sort of afternoon for the
              Irish giants -it was as if Leicester had stolen their
              Corry and his fellow forwards were immense, with England duo
              Lewis Moody and Louis Deacon alsoproducing inspirational performances,
              and the side's 2,000-strong travelling band of supporters began wild
              celebrations after their heroes weathered a late storm.
              Leicester suffered an injury blow when their New Zealand
              centre Daryl Gibson withdrew from the game with a back problem. He was
              replacedby Ollie Smith, but Humphreys shrugged off fitness troubles
              that forced an early exit against Cardiff Blues last Saturday.
              Conditions were inevitably blustery in south-west Ireland,
              but Leicester started confidently as Humphreys hoisted his team 3-0
              ahead following a menacing midfield break by centre Dan Hipkiss.
              Munster had their moments early on, but O'Gara sent a
              50-metre penalty sailing wide before he made amends on 21 minutes from
              close range after wing John Kelly was forced off injured to be replaced
              by Tomas O'Leary.
              But Leicester maintained a healthy appetite for the battle
              and they stunned Munster with a well-worked score created by Harry
              Ellis's midfield charge.
              Munster struggled to contain his power, b


                From the Tigers site...

                Painful, I know, But.....

                <table ="std_newsartd" summary="Layout table" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><t><tr><td ="line">My greatest day as coach - Howard</td></tr>
                <td ="date">20 January 2007, 10:47 pm</td></tr>
                <td ="author">By Gary Sherrard</td></tr>
                <td ="multimedia">
                <td ="abstract">Pat Howard described Leicester Tigers’ victory over Munster in Limerick as his greatest result as a coach.</td></tr>
                <td ="article">Tries from Geordan Murphy and Ollie Smith sent
                Tigers on their way to a history-making 13-6 victory over the defending
                European champions as they became the first visiting side to triumph at
                Thomond Park. The four points also put Tigers top of Pool Four and
                guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals for the eighth time in 10

                “As a coach, this is the best win I have been involved in,” said
                Howard. “Stade Francais at home last season was a very good one, but we
                are immensely pleased to win here.

                “Munster beat us in the first game at Welford Road and they were the
                better team on that day, and today we have won and I felt we were the
                better team.”

                Howard and his players had to cope with a late change to the
                line-up, when Daryl Gibson was ruled out by injury, and the wet and
                windy conditions also meant some alterations to the game-plan, but
                Howard was delighted by the attitude and commitment of his whole squad.

                “Overall, our ball control on the first half was outstanding, Ian
                Humphreys kicked very well and we got ourselves into good positions,”
                he said.

                “We defended with a lot of guts. For all the technique and the
                ability, you have still got to work hard and make your tackles, and the
                guys did that.

                “I barely had to say a word at half-time. George Chuter and Martin
                Corry led the talk and the guys were very focused and knew the job was
                only half done at that stage.”

                There were heroes all over the pitch for Tigers in the unique and
                noisy surroundings of Thomond Park, but Howard was particularly
                impressed by the forwards who took the game to their hosts, excelled in
                the scrum and put their bodies on the line in some tense defensive

                “We have a competitive pack and they can match with the best in
                Europe,” he said. “We know if our attitude is right we are going to be
                a handful for any pack. Full credit to the players, their attitude was
                spot on.”</td></tr></t></table>


                  There is an element in the English press that are going overboard on
                  this regarding the health of Eng rugby. A couple of things need to be
                  kept in perspective.

                  - Munster /Leinster were already qualified &amp; therefore lacked that edge they normally have.

                  - Actually the players that did most damage to Munster yesterday bar
                  the FR were irish. Jennings who was a pest, Humphries who has shown in
                  only a couple of games that he'sprobably far superior to Goode (an Eng
                  Intl) at OH and Murphy who didn't do the usual FB thing in TP by
                  imploding &amp; scored a fine try to boot (perhaps ROG was too kind in
                  not sending in more garryowens). Not to mention Plug who was part of a
                  marvelous forward effort.

                  Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again (like picking Gordon D'Arcy) and expecting different results.
                  Albert Einstein



                    <H1>Home instincts desert Munster</H1>

                    Gerry Thornley at Thomond Park

                    Munter 6 Leicester 13: The bottom line is Leicester physically beat Munster up at Thomond Park on Saturday, and it took a lot of hard swallowing. Unrelentingly, unerringly and unforgivingly, the Tigers gave a tacit lesson in how to take on Munster.

                    Viewed from abroad, this was one of the most seismic wins in the history of the Heineken European Cup, and it brooked no argument.

                    Attacking Munster's scrum and lineout from first to last, Leicester never gave the home side the kind of platform they've built up in each and every one of their previous 26 European Cup wins at their Limerick citadel.

                    Some things remain carved in stone and as was seen in Gloucester on Friday, the higher the standard, the more fundamental commanding one's own setpieces becomes.

                    In four separate phases of the match, Munster encamped on the Leicester line and went to their pack and their set-pieces. On previous occasions, they'd have come away with a score every time, or at least once. Never have they come away as empty-handed as they did here.

                    First, nearing the half-hour, in what would be a recurring theme, Paul O'Connell couldn't gather in Frankie Sheahan's throw, Donncha O'Callaghan gathering but knocking on in contact. On 35 minutes, they came knocking again, and arguably there should at least have been a reset put-in when Munster scrummed straight whereas Leicester broke the bind in wheeling around before O'Connell was penalised by the headmasterly Joël Jutge.

                    The damage having been done with the wind, Munster were living off rare sorties into the breeze after the interval. Still, it seemed their brave resilience had brought a lifeline when, cometh the hour, Denis Leamy, Marcus Horan and Tomás O'Leary gave them a head of steam off Peter Stringer's clever quick tap.

                    In what was assuredly the talk of the town on Saturday night, Munster perhaps became a little carried away when eschewing a three-pointer in front of the posts by opting for a scrum.

                    Rarely can a Munster back row have generated so little momentum. Backrow moves off the scrum had hardly been an option all day, and when Julian White and co shunted them off their own ball, the game was effectively up.

                    Not being wise after the event, but in a low-scoring game, at 6-8, taking the points appeared a much wiser option. The flow of psychic energy would have been with Munster. They would have led for the first time in the match.

                    At the very least, it would have been interesting, but we'll never know now. It would have been a bit of a steal, but it wouldn't have been the first.

                    Calm and composed, assured in everything they were doing, Leicester's bigger three-quarter line ran hard and straight, and in general they bossed the collisions, charging at Ronan O'Gara's channel. Nullifying Stringer, forcing O'Gara on to the back foot, they closed down the space far quicker in defence than a comparatively passive Munster. It was reminiscent of Wasps' brilliant semi-final three seasons ago, though not as dynamic.

                    All the pre-match fears came to pass, not least the absence of Trevor Halstead's sheer physicality. His loss denied Munster an attacking reference point, a source of go-forward midfield ball, which was compounded by the relatively poor quality of Munster's possession and Leicester's rush defence.

                    Ditto Alan Quinlan, of course, and this was compounded by the decision to accommodate Mick O'Driscoll in an ill-balanced back row. O'Driscoll, in mitigation, is a lock; he is not a flanker.

                    This isn't the first time Munster have overemphasised the importance of specialist lineout options; nor are they the first or last team to do so.

                    Only when Anthony Foley and Jerry Flannery were inevitably and belatedly introduced did Munster look like they were operating at s
                    New infraction avoidance policy: a post may be described as imbecilic, but its author should never be described as an imbecile.



                      </t></t></t></t><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="465"><t><tr>
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                      </t></t></t></t><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="465"><t><tr>
                      <td align="left" valign="top">@@@@SPAN>The Sunday Times@@@@/SPAN></td>
                      <td align="right" valign="top">@@@@SPAN>January 21, 2007@@@@/SPAN></td></tr></t></table>

                      <h1>Leicester refuse to fall under Munster’s magic spell</h1>@@@@SPAN>STUART BARNES@@@@/SPAN>

                      <h3>Last night’s historic win was down to the mental resilience of Martin Corry and his team</h3></td></tr></t></table></td></tr>
                      <td height="5"></td></tr>
                      </t></t></t></t><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="465"><t><tr>
                      <td valign="top">
                      <div>AND so the spell of Munster and its Thomond Park magic was finally broken by a Leicester team that were capable of looking Paul O’Connell’s men in the eye, standing toe to toe without taking one backward step. In fact, it was forward momentum for the Tigers all night long. From the first to last scrum the English side battered Munster’s eight, providing the necessary foundation for Harry Ellis and Ian Humphreys, and in the process denying any meaningful opportunity for Munster’s marvellous catalysts, Peter Stringer and Ronan O’Gara.

                      There was a ferocity at every contact and a firepower across the midfield which prevented Munster from making any meaningful progress. Do not let the scoreline of 13-6 fool you, Leicester dominated — and not just physically.

                      We analyse individual scrums and lineouts, but the great intangible is the psychological side of the game. A massive part of Munster’s magic has been their ability to beat opponents before they leave the changing room. Fallen English giants like Gloucester and Sale were beaten before kick-off by the alchemy established between team and supporters. Thomond Park has grown into the stuff of legend for fans of the game, but for opposing teams it grew into an ogre.

                      Leicester were not to be cowed by this beast. Pat Howard’s plan to outmuscle them from one to 14 (well, Geordan Murphy was Leicester’s own maverick magician) worked to perfection. It was not just the manner in which this physical power was imposed, it was the way the Tigers used it to psych Munster out at their own game. Nowhere more so than the scrum, where the match was perhaps won as early as the 23rd minute.

                      Leicester had been awarded a free-kick from a scrum and Martin Corry opted for another eight-man shunt. His front row stared into the eyes of their Irish opponents and saw defeat. That defeat became ever more likely when a controlled scrum opened the field for Ellis. He provided the momentum, Lewis Moody and Murphy the mesmeric finish. Munster may not have been finished as far as the scoreboard suggested but the pack had been psychologically subdued. For the rest of the match Munster’s pack remained caged and in the end it led to a moment of desperate madness from the normally unflappable O’Connell.

                      Deep in the second half and trailing by only two points Munster were awarded a penalty easily within the kicking range of O’Gara. Why, in a tight match, Munster captain O’Connell opted for a 5m scrum against a pack that had pummelled his is almost beyond comprehension. One can only assume that the beast wanted to bite back.

                      Munster have performed with controlled madness throughout the years and this combination of cold-blooded thinking and vast passion has swamped opposition. Suddenly, stared down by Leicester, there was only the madness and with it Munster’s one chance to turn the tide and force Leicester to chase the game was gone and with it their ground record.

                      If the demolition job perfor
                      New infraction avoidance policy: a post may be described as imbecilic, but its author should never be described as an imbecile.


                        Originally posted by Fly_caster

                        The crowd struggled to lift them. Long before the kick-off it seemed the crowd was struggling to lift itself. Maybe it was the paralysing cold, or maybe it was a fit of closing-night nerves as they turned up at the old stadium for the final time; but whatever the problems, the fabled Thomond Park faithful were in notably subdued form.

                        A few gallant efforts to get the 'Munster' war cry going died in the wind. Long silences were punctuated by isolated bursts of The Fields of Athenry that never took off.

                        On a night when he was never as badly needed, the famous 16th man didn't turn up. And by the time the crowd did find its voice, it was too late.

                        "Didn't turn up" ???? Not sure what game this lad was at, but from where I was standing, it was a very good atmosphere, and the crowd did keep the singing and shouting going for most of the game.

                        Still, all those articles hurt like Hell to read, but they have to be read and taken in and used as motivation-fodder for the next ML games and the eventual QF challenge.

                        What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger.

                        We still are the CURRENT and DEFENDING EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS!



                          See Thornley's report posted 3 posts higher up due to formatting problems.
                          New infraction avoidance policy: a post may be described as imbecilic, but its author should never be described as an imbecile.



                            Originally posted by Hakaman
                            "Didn't turn up" ???? Not sure what game this lad was at, but from where I was standing, it was a very good atmosphere, and the crowd did keep the singing and shouting going for most of the game.</font>
                            I thought it was poor and everyone I met afterwards thought it was poor. not a patch on the Sale game last year for example. The atmosphere was brilliant 30mins before kickoff against Sale.
                            Kiva - Loans That Change Lives


                              No point being critical about the atmosphere at the ground. All we can
                              do is our best to support the team, and hope the lucky ticketed
                              corporates and newbies follow suit.

                              Thornley's article is pretty good actually.