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Munster’s hopes of making it to the European Rugby Champions Cup knock-out stages were dealt a heavy blow as they went down 17-6 to Pool 4 leaders Leicester at Welford Road.
Tries from Ed Slater and Vereniki Goneva in each half were enough to give Leicester a deserved victory, but it was a much-improved performance from Anthony Foley’s side who were very much in the game until the latter stages.
The result means that Munster will probabaly need to win all three of their remaining games to have any chance of qualifying.
Ian Keatley put the nightmare of last week’s boo-boys at Thomond Park behind him with an early penalty, but was narrowly off target with a second attempt shortly afterwards as the visitors started brightly.
Munster were competing well, but found themselves behind on 23 minutes when Ed Slater burrowed over from a ruck close to the visitors’ line.
Freddie Burns added the conversion to make it 7-3 to the English side.
Burns slotted a penalty just after the half hour mark to make it 10-3, but Leinster got themselves back into the game just before the break as Keatley reduced the arrears to four points after substitute Dom Barrow was yellow-carded for a deliberate off-side.
Munster had a try disallowed for a forward pass immediately after the restart after James Cronin crossed in the corner.
Keatley was then wide with a penalty effort from very kickable range after Leicester had been penalised at the breakdown.
Burns then missed a good chance to stretch Leicester’s lead on 56 minutes, but again his effort was off target and the game remained in the balance.
Leicester scored a crucial second try 15 minutes from the end as Goneva finished off a fine move to score under the posts.
Burns added the extras to make it 17-6 and end Munster’s resistance and, quite possibly, their involvement in the business end of the tournament as well.