LEINSTER 22 LEICESTER TIGERS 9, RDS (Att: 18,563)
Scorers: Leinster: Try: Shane Horgan; Con: Felipe Contepomi; Pens: Felipe Contepomi 5
Leicester: Pens: Andy Goode 3
Argentinian star Contepomi landed six kicks out of eight and had a hand in the only try of this bruising encounter â00 winger Shane Horganâ00s 53rd-minute effort â00 as Leinster gained some revenge for their 2005 quarter-final exit at the hands of the English giants.
Hampered by a string of unforced errors, bad decision-making and some poor discipline, Leicester paid the price for a lacklustre second half performance as out-half Andy Goode kicked a single penalty to add to his first half haul of two.
Watched by new coach Marcelo Loffreda, Leicester were forced into a late change before kick-off. With Dan Hipkiss ruled out due to flu, Ireland â00Aâ00 winger Johne Murphy was promoted from the bench and Fijian star Seru Rabeni switched to his international position of centre.
Roared on by the bulk of the 18,563-strong RDS crowd, Leinster made a confident start with ex-Tiger Leo Cullen pinching the visitorsâ00 first lineout and Girvan Dempsey, Brian Oâ00Driscoll and Horgan involved in some expansive attacks.
Facing into a stiff wind, the hosts showed some good handling before Leicester prop Julian White was penalised for dropping a scrum and Contepomi kicked his side into the lead from 40 metres out.
Two big hits from Rabeni on Gordon Dâ00Arcy and Contepomi set up a penalty chance for Goode, which he easily slotted, and Tigers went 6-3 in front in the 17th-minute with an excellent 45-metre penalty hit from their number 10.
Leicester were holding the edge up front but Leinster looked the more potent in open play with a Horgan break and a beautifully placed kick over the top from Oâ00Driscoll forcing Goode into a rushed clearance behind his try line.
The attack ended with Dâ00Arcy smashed by an Alesana Tuilagi tackle but Leinster gained a penalty award for an earlier ruck offence and Contepomi, from the central position, levelled as the first quarter ended.
The game continued to ebb and flow, the exchanges were fast and furious and while Oâ00Driscoll and company continued to probe out wide, it was Tigers who should have retaken the lead before half-time.
Contepomi missed his third shot at the posts before the visitors gained a kickable penalty at the other end, which Goode slammed to touch. But Leinster won a relieving penalty with Frank Murphy delaying his put-in at a subsequent scrum and the hosts also kept Tuilagi and Ben Kay out in injury-time.
Leinster upped the tempo on the restart with Contepomi immediately converting his third penalty and with Ollie Smith pinged from holding on at a ruck, the Argentinian soon made it 12-6.
With errors creeping into the visitorsâ00 game, Leinster took full advantage with Oâ00Driscoll and Contepomi instigating the move that sent Horgan clear down the right touchline for his try.
Contepomi conjured up a fantastic conversion kick from the touchline for a 19-6 buffer and Tigers, who had won eight of their previous nine games in the competition, were in serious trouble.
Goode took the edge off Leinsterâ00s spell of pressure with a penalty, but that was only after last seasonâ00s runners-up fail to capitalise when camped near the hostsâ00 whitewash.
Jordan Crane picked and went off the back off successive scrums yet these surges amounted to little and Leinsterâ00s defence was superbly disciplined, although they were living on the edge at times.
As Leinster worked their way back downfield, a ruck offence from Lewis Moody close to his posts saw Contepomi kick the province further clear with a 69th-minute penalty, and Michael Cheika's men held on despite the late efforts of Geordan Murphy and Tuilagi to rescue something out of the game for the Tigers.
LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Gordon D'Arcy, Rob Kearney; Felipe Contepomi, Chris Whitaker; Ollie Le Roux, Bernard Jackman, Stan Wright, Leo Cullen, Malcolm O'Kelly, Keith Gleeson, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements used: Brian Blaney for Jackman (11-17 mins, blood sub), Luke Fitzgerald for Kearney (59), Juan Francisco Gomez for Wright (70), Blaney for Jackman (77). Not used: Cameron Jowitt, Kevin McLaughlin, Cillian Willis, Christian Warner.
LEICESTER: Geordan Murphy; Johne Murphy, Ollie Smith, Seru Rabeni, Alesana Tuilagi; Andy Goode, Frank Murphy; Marcos Ayerza, Ben Kayser, Julian White, Louis Deacon, Ben Kay, Martin Corry (capt), Lewis Moody, Jordan Crane.
Replacements used: Martin Castrogiovanni for White (49 mins), Mefin Davies for Kayser (75), James Hamilton for Deacon (77). Not used: Luke Abraham, Christophe Laussucq, Paul Burke, Sam Vesty.
Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)