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Leinster Rugby (6) 22 - 9 (6) Leicester Tigers
Royal Dublin Showgrounds, Dublin
Att: 18,563
Saturday, 10 November 2007, 13:30

The Heineken cup rolled back into town as Leinster took on last season's beaten finalists Leicester Tigers. Leicester have a good recent record against Leinster having beaten them the last two times they met, the last one of those a defeat at Lansdowne Road in 2005. Both sides knew that a good start to this group was essential to their respective hopes of qualifying with difficult tests against Edinburgh and Toulouse in store.

Early exchanges were cat and mouse, Contepomi marked his return to the Leinster team with an early penalty. Andy Goode, one of many moustachioed Leicester players to raise money for Matt Hampson, replied almost immediately.

The sides exchanged penalties again to tie the scores at six apiece, but had Leicester opted to kick the further penalties they were awarded it may have been more. Instead considering that they were playing with the wind at their backs, they curiously opted to kick for touch and under pressure from Malcolm O'Kelly and old boy Leo Cullen were never able to secure lineout possession and launch an attack.

Leinster emerged for the second half and immediately took advantage of the elements, with Contepomi knocking over two penalties to give Leinster a six point cushion. Leinster were putting in some sterling defensive work and were coping well with lineouts and scrums, so often a weakness in the team.

Shortly afterwards, the Argentine conjured up a try for the home side in a move that was more typical of the play we have come to expect from Leinster. Felipe Contepomi exchanged quick passes with O'Driscoll and with Dempsey's decoy taking men away, the Argentine found D'Arcy who sent in Horgan for a twenty yard dash to the line. The referee consulted briefly with his touchjudge before awarding the score. Contepomi struck an excellent conversion to stretch the scoreline to 19-6.

It is to the credit of Leinster that although there was 30 minutes remaining in the match that they reduced Leicester to a single penalty score, which they matched.

It could however have been different if Shane Horgan hadn't feverishly pursued Geordan Murphy in the dying moments. Murphy had pounced on a loose ball in his own 22 and raced up the pitch seemingly uncatchable. Horgan however had other ideas and chased him down. The Boyne man then performed a second heroic tackle on Tuilagi and completed a marvellous period of play by stealing the ball at the ensuing ruck to deny Leicester a bonus point. Who knows that might be crucial come the resolution of this group.

Match Statistics
  Leinster Rugby   Leicester Tigers
Tries Horgan    
Conversions Contepomi    
Penalties Contepomi (5)   Goode (3)
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Geordan Murphy
Shane Horgan 14 Johnny Murphy
Brian O'Driscoll (C) 13 Ollie Smith
Gordon D'Arcy 12 Seru Rabeni
Rob Kearney 11 Alesana Tuilagi
Felipe Contepomi 10 Andy Goode
Chris Whitaker 9 Frank Murphy
Ollie Le Roux 1 Marcus Ayersa
Bernard Jackman 2 Benjamin Kayser
Stan Wright 3 Julian White
Leo Cullen 4 Louis Deacon
Malcolm O'Kelly 5 Ben Kay
Keith Gleeson 6 Martin Corry (C)
Shane Jennings 7 Lewis Moody
Jamie Heaslip 8 Jordan Crane
Replacements Brian Blaney (for Jackman, 77) 16 Mefin Davies (for Kayser, 75)
Juan Francisco Gomez (for Wright, 70) 17 Martin Castrogiovanni (for White, 49)
Cameron Jowitt 18 James Hamilton (for Deacon, 77)
Kevin McLaughlin 19 Luke Abraham
Cillian Willis 20 Christoph Laussucq
Christian Warner 21 Paul Burke
Luke Fitzgerald (for Kearney, 59) 22 Sam Vesty
Not Considered
due to Injury
Trevor Hogan
Chris Keane
Stephen Keogh
Stephen Knoop
Ronnie McCormack
Fergus McFadden
Officials Referee: Christophe Berdos (FR)
Sub Referee: Eric Gauzins (FR)
Touch Judge: Jean Marie Schutz (FR)
4th Official: Wayne Sheridan (ARLB)
5th Official: Tom Tuohy (ARLB)
TMO: Daniel Gillet

by Sarah Lennon, © 2007-11-12