Perpignan took a massive step towards getting their season back on track with a 24-19 win over Leicester Tigers on Saturday.
Perpignan took a massive step towards getting their season back on track with a 24-19 win over Leicester Tigers in the Heineken Cup on Saturday.
The teams swapped ends with Perpignan 13-9 up after wing Adrien Plante scored in the corner eight minutes into extra time to cap a passage of play that included eight scrums and two yellow cards.
Full-back JÃ©rÃ´me Porical added to his two first-half penalties with a try to extend the Catalans' lead with half-an-hour left on the clock.
All of Tigers' first-half points came from the boot of Toby Flood. Leicester replied to Porical's try when Geordan Murphy touched down three minutes later.
Buy two more penalties from the home full-back proved enough for the French club forcing Leicester to settle for a losing bonus point.
The Tigers had won here in 2001 and held a 3-1 head-to-head advantage, and could have improved on that against a Perpignan side struggling for confidence.
The French side had not won in the Top 14 since October 2 and are the only side in the league without a bonus point. It showed in the opening exchanges as they came up with a string of errors and infringements.
Flood nudged the Tigers ahead after a lineout offence, with Porical replying after Leicester were pinged at the scrum.
Flood looked solid with the boot as he kicked another penalty, but Porical missed woefuly on the half-hour mark and after Jordan Crane made Leicester's first clean break, David Marty was deliberately offside to deny a try and was yellow-carded. Flood kicked the three, but Leicester should have had seven.
Perpignan finally came alive two minutes before the break when Porical's clever chip over the top forced Scott Hamilton to take the ball over for a five-metre scrum.
The hosts had the advantage at the set-piece and after numerous re-sets and two penalties – plus the sin-binning of both hookers – they finally brought the ball out. Nicolas Laharrague fired over a cross-field kick and Plante collected and scored in the corner. Porical converted and the hosts led 13-9 at half-time.
The action improved markedly after the break with both sides playing some ambitious, handling rugby.
Porical's fine step bamboozled Murphy as he scored in the corner, but the Ireland fullback quickly got his revenge, crashing over in the opposite corner after Crane's burst up the middle.
Trailing 18-16 after Porical missed his conversion and Flood succeeded with his, Leicester could have edged ahead only for Flood to miss his first kick of the day.
With Perpignan starting to get on top, two Porical penalties took Leicester out of bonus point range, but Flood cut the deficit again with seven minutes left.
Porical missed late on with a long-range attempt so at least Leicester had something to show for their efforts ahead of the re-match at Welford Road next weekend.
Tries: Plante, Porical
Pens: Porical 4
Pens: Flood 4
Yellow cards: Marty (Perpignan – 35th min – off-side); Tincu (Perpignan – 40th min – scrum); Chuter (Leicester – 40th min – scrum)
Perpignan: 15 JÃ©rÃ´me Porical, 14 Adrien Plante, 13 David Marty, 12 Joffrey Michel, 11 Julien Candelon, 10 Nicolas Laharrague, 9 David Mele, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Ovidiu Tonita, 6 Bertrand Guiry, 5 Robins Tchale Watchou, 4 Olivier Olibeau, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Marius Tincu, 1 Perry Freshwater.
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 JÃ©rÃ´me Schuster, 18 Kisi Pulu, 19 Gerrie Britz, 20 Henry Tuilagi, 21 Jean-Pierre Perez, 22 Florian Cazenave, 23 Farid Sid,
Leicester: 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Craig Newby, 6 Thomas Waldrom, 5 George Skivington, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Pete Bucknall, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Steve Mafi, 21 James Grindal, 22 Jeremy Staunton, 23 Manu Tuilagi.
Venue: Stade AimÃ© Giral, Perpignan
Referee: Alan Lewis