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Monday, January 16, 2006

 

Other Teams / Unions: Tigerphile speaks

In an exciting new venture for Rugga World, we'll be posting periodic Leicester Tigers match reports from Tigerphile. Additionally we will be commissioning occasional specialist England and general rugby articles from Tigerphile.

Today's match features two of the giants of European rugby, England's Leicester versus France's Stade Francais, Nick Mallett's old club.

Further South African interest provided by Pieter de Villiers and Sean Sowerby.

Leicester (9) 29-22 (12) Stade Francais
---------------------------------------

Leicester: 15 Vesty; 14 Lloyd, 13 Smith, 12 Hipkiss, Murphy; 10 Goode,
9 Healey; 1 Rowntree, Chuter, White; L Deacon, Kay; 6 Johnson, 7
Jennings, 8 Corry (captain).
Replacements: Buckland, Morris, Cullen, Abraham, Ellis, Broadfoot,
Varndell.

Stade Francais: 15 Corleto; Borges, Skrela, JM Hernandez, Dominici; 10
Penaud, 9 Fillol; 1 Marconnet, Szarzewski, De Villiers; Auradou
(capt), James; Parisse, Martin, Sowerby.
Replacements: Kayser, Roncero, Marchois, M Williams, Messina,
Bergamasco.

Referee: A Lewis (Ireland)
Conditions: Dry, 8C, soft pitch not much wind

-------------

Time for the third set of two games in this season's Heineken Cup, and
with Leicester and Stade Francais separated by a bonus point in group
3, this games looked likely to decide the pool winners. The two have
played half a dozen times in the HC before, with SF beating Leicester
twice two seasons ago. Last year SF were finalists, losing to Toulouse
who beat Leicester in a semi final.

The form of both teams has been less than ideal this season, but there
is an increasing emphasis on "coming good at the right time" in the
English and French game, not worrying about things too much until the
crunch games come at the end of the season. This one came round a
little early, and all the more welcome for that.

The first half was extremely physical, geared around SF trying to get
their big mauling pack going. The visitors certainly had the better of
the lineout early on, pinching some of the Leicester ball, but they
were unable to get as much momentum in the tight as they generally do.
What's more, the Leicester scrum looked very comfortable, and put SF
under some pressure which is unusual. It was a territorial half
punctured with a few moments when the tryline was threatened. Firstly
a defensive lineout turned into attack when the admirable Corry made
ground and a half break from the young improving centre Hipkiss found
Murphy in space, and the Irishman kicked ahead to go close, Smith
knocking on trying to collect the loose ball 5m from the Frenchmen's
line. Another attack was close for Leicester, Will Johnson passing
forward to Smith who's touchdown was therefore disallowed.

Leicester scored first when Lloyd was hit illegally by the astonishing
ball of indian rubber Szarzewski. Look out for him in the French
national team this season. After stretching things to 6-0, then a
return to 6-6, eventually SF edged ahead with a penalty as the last
kick of the half. The intensity of the game wasn't to be denied, with
both packs working hard, Leicester effecting a few turnovers not least
from their recent signing Irishman Jennings, who is growing into Neil
Back's shirt in a more classical openside fashion. Corry also was
working hard. A few nice moments from the SF halfbacks showed a break
was never far away, yet SF continue to play a much more conservative
game than is generally associated with the French game. Tough, dour, a
"chess game" with all to play for in the second half, and likely to be
cigarette-paper close.

Leicester managed a little more pressure early in the second half,
Goode untypically unable to convert pressure into points, and the
scoring was continued when SF fullback Corleto pinged over a long
range drop goal from a Goode defensive kick that missed touch.

Still Leicester had been applying the more pressure, but they seemed
to force things too much with some re-jigging of the back line from
set piece, Vesty going to 10 and Goode to centre. Goode's pass was
neatly intercepted by replacement Bergamasco who ran in unopposed for
the 7 points. Close games can go either way, but a 12-22 scoreline
seemed very lopsided from the play so far, but the remaining 15
minutes or so seemed insufficient for the home team to pull make up
such ground.

Leicester have had a habit of pulling things round of late though, and
duly delivered as Goode, pendulum like, swung back into effective
mode. First an easy enough penalty, then a chip which initiated an
unlikely finish by lock Deacon appearing in support of Murphy.
Confidence restored, the conversion from the right touchline was
precise, and there was an inevitability about the final score, with
Leicester driving and recycling for a sustained attack eventually
concluding with an overlap for Hipkiss, the conversion not trivial but
a formality all the same.

This was pressure club rugby, with an intensity matching many a test.
As theatre it wasn't too shabby either, with an electric atmosphere to
close the game.
Comments:
Fantastic match report.

We should be looking at similar style reports.

Thanks Tigerphile.

I loved it.

It gives off such an authentic feel to the waqy NH rugby is played with such intensity with hardnosed forwards battling it out in the muddy trenches.

True power rugby.
 
Great report.

Absorbing
 
The Tigerphile knows how much I hate Leicheatster but that was an impressive game on Sunday! Nice report too :o)
Jo
 
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