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Leicester became the only side to claim the Heineken Cup twice in a scintillating 15-9 victory against Munster at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
The defending champions lifted the trophy with a two-tries-to-nil victory in a clash that could have gone either way.
The Tigers’ own Irishman Geordan Murphy and Austin Healey were the key men, the latter producing a delightful dummy for Leicester’s second try.
Three penalties from Ronan O’Gara were scant reward for a mighty performance from the Irishmen.
But try as they might they failed to break down a superb Leicester defence despite a late rally which saw Munster controversially lose possession at a scrum underneath the posts.
Neil Back appeared to knock the ball out of Peter Stringer’s hands with his hand but neither the referee nor the touch judge spotted the infringement, and the Tigers held on.
Leicester almost got off to the perfect start when Freddie Tuilagi raced over with just one minute on the clock, only for referee Joel Jutge to bring the Midlanders back for an illegal push on John Kelly.
Seconds later man-of-the-match Tim Stimpson’s penalty sailed wide, but O’Gara slotted over shortly afterwards to push Munster 3-0 ahead.
Tigers fans reacted furiously when Martin Johnson ran over after a dismal throw in at the lineout by Frankie Sheahan – only for it to be again ruled out by Jutge.
Instead, it was Munster who added to their tally when O’Gara slotted his second of the afternoon after 20 minutes.
The game clearly needed a try and it was Leicester’s Murphy who provided it – courtesy of a timely dummy from Stimpson – to the dismay of his fellow countrymen.
It was nothing more than Leicester deserved, but Stimpson again failed to find the posts.
In front of a sea of red, Munster started the second period impressively, forcing the Tigers back into their 22.
Leicester again struggled to gain any meaningful possession and had it not been for Munster’s inability to win any line-out ball, the Tigers could have been out of the game.
Leicester’s front-row were struggling against the might of Peter Clohessy, Sheahan and John Hayes and O’Gara made them pay when Darren Garforth was penalised for not binding.
His kick pushed Munster 9-5 ahead to raise Irish hopes of a famous victory.
But after semi-final hero Harry Ellis replaced scrum-half Jamie Hamilton 10 minutes after the break, the Tigers began to dominate.
Twice Stimpson refused to kick for goal and Leicester were rewarded for their bravery when O’Gara missed his man in front of his posts to allow Healey to turn the tide in favour of the defending champions.
Stimpson’s conversion pushed Leicester ahead for the first time in the game.
The try prompted a rash of changes for Munster, with Clohessy bidding farewell to a remarkable rugby union career as the game entered the final quarter.
But just as Munster continued to struggle in the line-out, so Leicester again lost out in the scrum.
Garforth was again penalised for collapsing, this time inside his own 22, but O’Gara missed his opportunity to level affairs – a costly mistake made more frustrating seconds later when Stimpson pushed the Tigers 15-9 ahead.
From the re-start Munster hit back immediately, but John O’Neill’s touchdown was correctly ruled out when TV replays showed he was marginally in touch.
And when Back’s infringement at the scrum was not picked up, it was clear it was going to be Leicester’s day.