Wednesday 20 March 2019

Tigers Tuilagi and Toomua eager to show their claws

Head coach Johann van Graan. Pic: Sportsfile
Head coach Johann van Graan. Pic: Sportsfile

There has been a great deal of animosity built up for what is certain to be a firecracker of a return contest at Welford Road tomorrow (KO 5.30, BT Sport 2).

Leicester coach Matt O'Connor did have a legitimate point to make about the outside-the-rules elbow room referee Jerome Garces allowed Munster at Thomond Park.

Now, the counter-claims that the Tigers should have adapted to Garces' interpretation doesn't really stand up because it was 20-0 after only half an hour.

You don't come back from the dead in the graveyard Thomond Park has been for Europe's finest down the years.

As it stands, Munster rank as the lowest of the Pool Five leaders, in terms of points accumulated.

Should that remain the case, the best they could accomplish would be an away quarter-final.

Worse than that, all four clubs in Pool 4 are still in with a shout of the quarter-finals, as just five points separates top from bottom.

Coach Johann van Graan will experience his first meaningful challenge on the road in the East Midlands.

He has made two changes as wing Darren Sweetnam steps up for Andrew Conway and hooker Kevin O'Byrne replaces Rhys Marshall for what will be a real test for Sam Arnold and Alex Wootton.

They will do well to contain and counter Leicester as O'Connor is able to call up Mat Toomua and Manu Tuilagi in a frightening midfield combination, though they could be lacking match fitness.

Leicester: M Tait; A Thompstone, M Tuilagi, M Toomua, J May; G Ford, B Youngs; K Traynor, T Youngs (capt), D Cole, M Fitzgerald, G Kitchener, T Mapapalangi, M Williams, S Kalafamoni.

Munster: S Zebo; D Sweetnam, S Arnold, R Scannell, A Wootton; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, K O'Byrne, S Archer, J Kleyn, B Holland, P O'Mahony (capt), C Cloete, CJ Stander.

Verdict: Leicester.

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