On a pitch like a skating rink, without Malcolm O'Kelly and with Nathan Spooner clearly less than 100% Leinster produced as courageous a display as will be seen in this tournament. Leicester had oceans of possession yet were unable to put away this Leinster side who battled from start to finish. It was to their great credit that they were istill in the hunt right to the final whistle.
In the end they succumbed to a home side who wound up with 14 men after Lewis Moody was sinbinned in the closing stages.
Nathan Spooner gave Leinster the ideal start with a penalty after just two minutes and it got better for the Celtic League champions when Denis Hickie hacked through and gathered to score beside the posts leaving Spooner with a simple conversion.
Leicester probably felt that Hickie hadn't actually grounded the ball but in the 22nd minute they scored their first try in equally doubtful circumstances. Leinster conceded a penalty and Rod Kafer kicked for position. It seemed as if his kick had gone into touch in goal but Leicester were awarded the lineout and they mauled their way over, Neil Back their try scorer.
That score signaled a period of Leicester dominance that produced three tries. Leicester used their pack to tie up the Leinster cover and when they flashed the ball wide Leon Lloyd was on hand to score on the right in the 28th minute. Austin Healy was next up with a try and then Geordan Murphy scampered over in the 38th minute - a try he then converted - for a 24-10 lead. In injury time Spooner landed a penalty to leave his side trailing by 11 points at the break.
Leicester started the second half in determined fashion and only superb defence denied them in the opening phases. However their line was breached after 12 minutes, Neil Back getting his second try with Murphy again on target with the conversion.
But Leinster refused to buckle. A superb Victor Costello break took play into the Leicester 22. They were awarded a penalty and went for the lineout, a courageous decision that yielded a try at the corner flag for Ben Willis.
Spooner was clearly uncomfortable when asked to kick and his conversion attempt and a subsequent long range penalty were wide. Had either kick made it, we might have had a different, but all told, Leicester were worthy winners.
G Dempsey; D Hickie, B O'Driscoll, S Horgan (A Magro), G D'Arcy (S Keogh); N Spooner, B Willis; R Corrigan, S Byrne (G Hickie), P Wallace; L Cullen, R Casey (T Brennan); E Miller, K Gleeson, V Costello.