Planet Rugby

Dupuy breaks Bath hearts

11th April 2009 19:45

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Geordan Murphy HEC quarters

Leading from the back: Geordan Murphy

With extra-time looming at the Walkers Stadium, Leicester had replacement Julien Dupuy to thank as his long-range try broke Bath hearts in a 20-15 victory.

Granted it was not the traditional atmosphere of Welford Road but the football venue did provide adequate life for the Tigers to clamber their way back from a seven-point deficit and book an away meeting with Cardiff Blues in three weeks time.

Richard Cockerill was forced to re-jig his selection before the off as regular Toby Flood pulled out due to leg injury but the ever-reliable Sam Vesty, who kicked fifteen points, was once again on hand to direct the home side past their old English adversaries before Dupuy stole the show with time running out.

The canny Frenchman replaced Harry Ellis midway through the second period and with Bath racing up in a desperate attempt to foil an anticipated drop-goal, the scrum-half turned 180 degrees to race away for the match-winning score.

Events began with plenty of nerves and jitters, none more so when Butch James' kick-off dropped straight out. The Springbok pivot was nowhere near his peak all evening on Saturday as his opposite number stole the show with a 100 per cent record from the tee.

British and Irish Lions subplots were also in attendance as stand-in captain Geordan Murphy certainly put his hand up to the watching Ian McGeechan and company with an assured effort, covering every blade of grass with goalkeeper-like saves thrown into his repertoire.

Unfortunately the game did take an ample amount of time to get going as both outfits struggled to find rhythm during the opening thirteen minutes. That was until winger Alesana Tuilagi got his hands on the ball - much to the delight of both sets of fans one felt.

But points were finally notched with a quarter of the contest gone as Vesty's long-range attempt finally troubled the scorers - another three points two minutes later extending the lead to 6-0 as the stadium volume increased.

Match statistics on the half-hour did raise an eyebrow though, as Leicester dominated turnovers five to nil while shockingly not yet even venturing into the visitors' 22. That probably did not concern Cockerill though as James demonstrated his hooking skills from the tee on 32 minutes with one that in golfing terms would be out of bounds.

However, that lack of success at goal ultimately proved the Tigers' undoing as Bath's decision to head for the corner instead of attempting another shot for three led to the opening try. Good off-the-top lineout work found its way to league-convert Shontayne Hape, who sliced through on the 22 before calmly feeding replacement centre Shaun Berne as Bath took a 6-7 advantage.

The turnaround witnessed the West Country outfit continue their end-of-half form as James started to find his range in extending the lead to four points on 45 minutes.

And there was plenty of nail-biting action to follow as Vesty's coolness on two occasions edged an improving Leicester back ahead - meaning a tight finish was in the offing as territory for drop-goals entered both side's thoughts.

But then the mistake of all mistakes occurred as unbelievably hooker Lee Mears, whose height is by no means his forte, charged down Vesty's 22 restart and Bath were on the front foot. Quickly recycled ball was vital for Bath and that was what they got as Berne fed the Guinness Premiership's top finisher, Joe Maddock for the try wide out.

That three point lead was cancelled out soon after, however, due to Vesty continuing his good evening as extra-time began to loom large in the midlands.

Cue the substitute's moment of magic as the in-form Dupuy's decision not to feed Murphy lying in the pocket paid dividends with Bath falling to their knees in European agony.

Man of the match: For a long period of 2008/09, club man Sam Vesty has been stuck in the shadows of Welford Road. But over the past two months he has done more than other tens have done all season and was on-target at the Walkers. A mention also for skipper Geordan Murphy who was faultless at the back!

The scorers:

For Leicester:

Tries: Dupuy

Pen: Vesty 5

For Bath:

Tries: Berne, Maddock

Con: James

Pen: James

Leicester: 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Ayoola Erinle, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Sam Vesty, 9 Harry Ellis, 8 Ben Pienaar, 7 Ben Woods, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Ben Kay, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza,

Replacements: 16 Mefin Davies, 17 Dan Cole, 18 Jordan Crane, 19 Craig Newby, 20 Julien Dupuy, 21 Ayoola Erinle, 22 Johne Murphy,

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Joe Maddock, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Jonny Fa'amatuainu, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Andrew Beattie, 5 Peter Short, 4 Justin Harrison, 3 Duncan Bell, 2 Lee Mears, 1 David Flatman,

Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Paulica Ion, 18 Stuart Hooper, 19 James Scaysbrook, 20 Scott Bemand, 21 Shaun Berne, 22 Andy Higgins,

Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)

Touch judges: Simon McDowell (Ireland), Colin Stanley (Ireland)

Television match official: Trevor Parlett (England), Brian Fitzgerald (Ireland)

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