Leicester Tigers 16-10 Leinster: Leinster silence the Tigers' roar
Leicester Tigers 16 Leinster 19
In doing so they prevented their illustrious opponents from equalling Toulouse's record of three European victories. It was a well-deserved win for Michael Cheika's side with the Irish team better for the vast majority of the 80 minutes. The exceptions came either side of half time when they had prop Stan Wright twiddling his thumbs in the sin bin and Leicester scored 13 points with the one-man advantage. It still wasn't enough.
The match had just entered the final ten minutes and the teams could not be separated on the score board at 16-16 when Leinster's young fly-half Johnny Sexton stepped up to take a 40-yard penalty after the Tigers replacement Matt Smith had been pinged at the breakdown. With the confidence of youth Sexton struck the ball straight through the uprights and when his opposite number Sam Vesty kicked the restart straight out on the full Irish eyes were smiling; though perhaps not those of Leicester skipper Geordan Murphy, nursing an injury on the sidelines.
Leicester were treated to some of their own medicine in the last ten minutes as the Irish province proved that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. They played low-risk, one-pass, pick and drive rugby that served to run down the clock and frustrate their English opponents at the same time. It wasn't pretty but given the adventure both teams had already shown they could be forgiven for protecting their slender advantage.
Leinster's entire performance was based on Rocky Elsom foundations and they were solid enough to win him the man of the match award. The big Aussie wrote off his car last Monday but walked away from the crash and he dominated every collision yesterday in much the same way. He was a human wrecking ball in the loose, an immovable object in defence and a pain in the arse at the sidelines where he stole several Leicester throws including two in quick succession. The first of these threatened to produce the opening try but, following a half-break from Sexton, Gordon D'Arcy was held up just short of the Leicester line. In the second half Elsom rounded the athletic Tom Croft with ease. It is not hard to understand why the Wallabies are moving heaven and earth to get him back home and why Leinster are breaking the bank to keep him.
While Elsom led the way up front Sexton looked by far and away the most composed man on the pitch. He comfortably won the tactical kicking battle, with a little help from Isa Nacewa; he dropped a goal from the half way line in the first half, slotted a conversion and added two crucial penalties including that winning score after 70 minutes.
With so much at stake there was no quarter asked and none offered by either side in a full blooded match. Elsom set up Brian O'Driscoll's opening drop goal by putting Alex Tuilagi on his backside which must have surprised the giant Samoan almost as much as it did everyone else in Murrayfield. Tuilagi then clattered into Shane Horgan and Ayoola Erinle hit O'Driscoll like the dawn of time; it was great stuff.
After dominating the opening half hour the Irishmen were tightening their grip on proceedings when some soft tackling on Dan Hipkiss allowed the Tigers midfielder to break from deep and Sexton needed to move quickly to hoof the ball off his own try line with Croft bearing down on him. The Tigers had the whip hand for the first time in the match and their cause was boosted when Leinster prop Stan Wright was sent to the sidelines on 32 minutes for tackling Vesty without the ball.
Dupuy slotted his second penalty for that offence and the Tigers smelt blood. Erinle charged through the blue forwards, Vesty rode a tackle and flanker Ben Woods did fantastically well to brush off Nacewa's defence and carry O'Driscoll over the try line with him. Dupuy's conversion meant that the Tigers took a 13-9 lead into the half time dressing room after being on the ropes for the opening 30 minutes.
Having made one mistake at the end of the first 40, the Irishmen made another two early in the second half. Luke Fitzgerald kicked the ball out on the full after it was passed back into the 22 and prop Cian Healy then charged into the side of a ruck in the shadow of his own posts to give Dupuy an easy opportunity to extend the Tigers' lead and the Frenchman duly obliged just two minutes into the second half. It was Leicester's last score.
The Tigers had already lost No 8 Jordan Crane to injury in the first half and when Murphy limped off on 46 minutes, to a rousing reception from both sets of supporters, the Dubliners took heart and, restored to 15 men, Leinster upped the tempo of the match and ran through the phases.
O'Driscoll had a dart in the 22, Sexton threw his thin frame at the thin green line and eventually No 8 Jamie Heaslip muscled his way close enough to place the ball over the try line. Sexton's conversion drew his team level with half an hour and plenty of drama still to come.
Leicester: G Murphy (M Smith 46 min); S Hamilton, A Erinle, D Hipkiss, A Tuilagi; S Vesty, J Dupuy (H Ellis 75); M Ayerza, G Chuter (B Kayser), M Castroviovanni (White 52), T Croft, B Kay, C Newby, B Woods (L Moody), J Crane (L Deacon).
Leinster: I Nacewa; S Horgan, B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, C Whitaker; C Healy, B Jackman (J Fogarty 55), S Wright, L Cullen, M O'Kelly, R Elsom, S Jennings, J Heaslip.
Scorers: Leicester – Try: Woods. Conv: Dupuy. Pen: Dupuy (3). Leinster – Try: Heaslip. Conv: Sexton. Pen: Sexton (2). DG: O'Driscoll, Sexton,
Referee: N Owens (Wales).
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West