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Tigers Maul Leinster

Tigers Maul Leinster

Leinster’s Heineken Cup campaign came to an end at a muddy Welford Road as they were mauled by the Tigers.

Two tries in the space of three first-half minutes from Brett Deacon and Seru Rabeni put Tigers in charge and they survived Julian White and Andy Goode being sent to the sin bin six minutes apart in the second half.

Leicester, twice winners of the competition and last year’s beaten finalists, went into the game knowing they could not qualify for the last eight after defeat in Edinburgh seven days earlier.

But the visitors still had a chance, needing to win and hope that Toulouse slipped up at home to Edinburgh to qualify from Pool Six.
Magners League table-toppers Leinster won the reverse fixture 22-9 in November and their starting XV included former Leicester players Shane Jennings and Leo Cullen.

Cullen was making his 50th appearance in the Heineken Cup – he played 12 games for Leicester – while veteran scrum half Guy Easterby made his last appearance for the Irish team having been brought in to help them through the pool stages.

Brian O’Driscoll skippered Leinster, but Tigers were without their captain Martin Corry and Lewis Moody was also ruled out through injury.

In total, they had 10 players missing, including Aaron Mauger and Dan Hipkiss, but they welcomed back Martin Castrogiovanni and Rabeni after spells out.

The home side also handed a Heineken Cup debut to Ben Herring at openside and Ayoola Erinle made a first start since October 27.
Leinster fly-half Felipe Contepomi and Andy Goode swapped penalties inside the opening three minutes.

The visitors were back in front on seven minutes, Contepomi’s penalty being ruled to have crossed after hitting the upright.

That brought boos from the Leicester supporters, but they were cheering on 19 minutes. Tigers put together a spell of pressure and after driving for the line between the posts, Goode fed Brett Deacon to dive over in the corner.

Tigers had more to cheer on 22 minutes. Rabeni gathered Marco Wentzel’s inside pass on the 22 and weaved his way through a couple of tackles to charge through and touch down between the posts.

Goode’s conversion made it 15-6, but his 26th-minute penalty attempt from 40 metres drifted wide.

The visitors were handed a route back into the game on 29 minutes when White was sin-binned for fighting and tempers soon reached boiling point again.

Goode aimed a high tackle at O’Driscoll that sparked a melee.

When the dust had settled Goode was also sent to the sin bin.
Tigers defended superbly to hold on until the break without conceding and were still leading 15-6 when Goode returned to the pitch five minutes after the break.

Contepomi missed the chance to trim the gap when he dragged a 47th-minute penalty attempt wide of the posts, but was more accurate four minutes later to make it 15-9.

Leicester were nine in front again when Goode belted over a penalty and the Irish team suffered frustration on 61 minutes when Rob Kearney failed to gather a pass when he had a clear run to the line.

The match was over when Herring went over on 75 minutes and Goode converted to make it 25-9.