Planet Rugby

Tigers held in thrilling stalemate

Leicester third try v Ospreys

Try time as Leicester mount the big comeback.

11th October 2009 14:36

Share:

Billy Twelvetree scores v Ospreys

Twelvetrees touches down

The Ospreys let a 26-8 lead slip at Welford Road on Sunday, as Leicester fought back to claim a stirring 32-32 Heineken Cup draw.

The visitors notched 23 unanswered first-half points as they fought back from 8-0 down and an early Johne Murphy try to claim what looked to be an unassailable half-time lead in a belting game of rugby.

But Leicester are made of stern stuff and produced a mesmeric second half to get their way back into the game, claiming a crucial bonus point for scoring four tries, which in this tightest of groups might yet count for so much.

The Tigers, already decimated by injuries, lost four more key players before kick-off and found themselves 26-8 down late in the first half.

The Ospreys had stormed ahead with tries from Shane Williams and Tommy Bowe - plus a faultless kicking performance from teenage fly-half Dan Biggar, who finished with 22 points.

Leicester's changing room may have resembled a scene from MASH - but nothing could damage their age-old fighting spirit as the Tigers mounted a dramatic comeback.

Man of the match Billy Twelvetrees added to Johne Murphy's early try, before Argentinian winger Lucas Amorosino and then Jeremy Staunton earned the Tigers a share of the spoils and a four-try bonus point.

Leicester have not lost at Welford Road in more than a year, and the Ospreys will be kicking themselves at letting such a golden opportunity slip through their fingers.

The Tigers - already without the likes Geordan Murphy, Toby Flood and Sam Vesty - were forced into a major backline reshuffle after Harry Ellis, Matt Smith and centre pairing Aaron Mauger and Dan Hipkiss were all ruled out.

Things got even worse for the Tigers at the interval when Anthony Allen was replaced in midfield by the former All Black flanker Craig Newby.

At first, the Tigers appeared unaffected by all the changes and raced into an early 8-0 lead as Julian White demolished the Ospreys scrum and Allen made an enterprising start as a makeshift outside-centre.

Allen ran on to Staunton's long pass and carved his way through the Ospreys line to set up the Tigers' opening try, which was scored in the corner by Murphy.

Leicester had the Ospreys' scrum under immense pressure, and White won consecutive penalties - the first of which Staunton fired wide from 55metres but the second he slotted from under posts.

White then looked at referee Alain Rolland in disbelief when he was penalised at the next scrum, and Biggar landed the long-range kick to keep the Ospreys in touch.

White got his revenge at the next set-piece. But Staunton missed again, and the Ospreys began to turn the tables - with their incisive back division punishing the patched-up Tigers.

Biggar landed a second penalty and was then involved twice as the Ospreys surged into the lead with a try from Shane Williams.

The teenage fly-half followed his own steepling up-and-under, which was too hot for Jordan Crane to handle, and took a beautifully delayed inside pass from James Hook to send Williams away for the try.

Biggar slotted a cool drop-goal before Bowe pounced on another mistake in the Leicester ranks - scooping up a loose ball to score unopposed under the posts.

Another Biggar penalty opened the Ospreys a 26-8 lead - before the Tigers found their claws again and staged a spirited comeback, with Allen again playing a key role.

The former Gloucester centre managed to squeeze a pass outside for Twelvetrees, who crashed over in the corner and then dusted himself down to assume the kicking duties from Staunton and land the conversion.

Biggar's seventh consecutive place-kick extended the Ospreys' lead to 29-15. But the Tigers responded by throwing caution to the wind and worked an excellent third try for Amorosino.

From a Tigers scrum near half-way, James Grindal attacked the blind-side - and Hamilton slipped the scoring pass for the Argentinian winger to tee up a dramatic finale.

Biggar eased the pressure for the Ospreys with another penalty, but Twelvetrees responded for the Tigers and then sparked the vital attack with five minutes remaining.

Staunton's run took him within two metres of the line.

It appeared he had wasted the chance when he failed to pop the pass to Murphy on his outside, but he drove on for the line - and Twelvetrees kicked the conversion to earn a dramatic draw.

The scorers:

For Leicester:
Tries: Murphy, Twelvetrees, Amorosino, Staunton
Cons: Twelvetrees 3
Pens: Staunton, Twelvetrees

For the Ospreys:
Tries: Williams, Bowe
Cons:
Biggar 2
Pens: Biggar 5
Drop goal: Biggar

Leicester Tigers: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Lucas Amorosino, 13 Anthony Allen, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Jeremy Staunton, 9 James Grindal, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Lewis Moody, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Ben Kay, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Julian White, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Joe Duffey, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Craig Newby, 21 Ben Youngs.

Ospreys: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Tommy Bowe, 12 James Hook, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Ryan Jones, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Jonathan Thomas, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Cai Griffiths, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Craig Mitchell, 18 Ryan Bevington, 19 Ian Gough, 20 Filo Tiatia, 21 Jamie Nutbrown, 22 Andrew Bishop, 23 Sonny Parker.

Referee: Alain Rolland

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Scarlets vs LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Preview
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Saturday , October 25
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615