Leicester came from behind to secure a crucial bonus-point 34-19 victory over Treviso in Saturday's Heineken Cup clash in Italy.
Leicester came from behind to secure a crucial bonus-point 34-19 victory over Treviso in Saturday's Heineken Cup clash at Stadio Monigo.
The result leaves Tigers two points behind Pool 5 leaders Ulster and sets up a decider against the Irish Province at Welford Road next Saturday.
Treviso led 13-8 at half time but two tries from Miles Benjamin and a penalty try after the interval secured the result that keeps Leicester's quarter-final ambitions alive.
After a win for pool leaders Ulster against Montpellier on Friday, the Tigers managed to avoid an upset in Italy, but had to work had for their success.
Despite going behind to an early penalty, Leicester showed their intent when given a penalty in the Treviso 22. Owen Williams kicked to the corner, and the visitors' pack rumbled over from the maul with Julian Salvi the man with the ball in his hands.
Any suggestions of Leicester running away with the game were put to an immediate halt when Lorenzo Cittadini held off the attentions of two Tigers players to scramble over and give the Italians a five point lead. Mat Berquist added another penalty soon after, but Williams cut the host's lead at the 40 minute mark as Treviso headed in with a shock 13-8 lead.
The Tigers had work to do. Whatever the Leicester team talk had been at half time, it seemed to have worked. Despite conceding a penalty moments into the second period, Benjamin put the Tigers right back into the match with a strong, confident run which saw him slide over in the corner.
Treviso kept their side of the scoreboard ticking over nicely though, Berquist maintaining a 100 percent kicking record to keep the visitors at arm's length.
Leicester's adventurous exploits in the first half were seen less so early on in the second, with David MÃ©lÃ© given the responsibility to kick three points, rather than go for the corner, as Leicester sensed they needed to get ahead on points first and think about a bonus point second.
The Frenchman then levelled the scores with another penalty. The Tigers had the momentum going into the last quarter with the scores at 19-19.
That momentum helped them drive over the line for their third try, the bonus point now within touching distance. A penalty try was awarded as Treviso collapsed a rolling maul.
With the win all but secured, Leicester then had to go all out for the fourth try. The extra point was confirmed with 13 minutes left still to play, Benjamin the beneficiary of a massive overlap.
As he easily touched down, a quick check by TMO Bruno Bessot confirmed what most observers already knew.
Richard Cockerill now has seven days to prepare his men for a colossal encounter at their own stadium, though the extra point could mean they advance as one of the best runners up if they lose next week.
Pens: Berquist 4
Yellow card: Williams
For Leicester Tigers:
Tries: Salvi, Benjamin 2, Penalty try
Pens: Williams, MÃ©lÃ© 3
Treviso: 15 Brendan Williams, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Andrea Pratichetti, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Mat Berquist, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Paul Derbyshire, 6 Christian Loamanu, 5 Valerio Bernabo, 4 Antonio Pavanello (c), 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Franco Sbaraglini, 17 Alberto de Marchi, 18 Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Marco Filippucci, 21 Francesco Minto, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 James Ambrosini
Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Toby Flood (c), 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Sebastian De Chaves, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 David MÃ©lÃ©, 22 Anthony Allen, 23 Matt Smith.
Referee: Romain Poite (Fr)
Assistant referees: Christophe Berdos, Tual Trainini (both Fr)
TMO: Bruno Bessot