Rugby Union: Pau's pack too powerful for clueless Tigers

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The Independent Online
Pau 35

Leicester 18

Pau powered their way into the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup with a disciplined performance against a disappointing Leicester. At times the Tigers were clueless, ultimately they were clawless. They had no answer to the superior scrummaging and they wasted their own advantage at the line-out.

The platform constructed by the Pau pack provided the perfect stage for the French backs to turn on the pace and style. They were a class above their opponents in attack and defence, revealing touches of brilliance and all-round excellence.

The Leicester coach, Bob Dwyer, seethed over the inexperience of referee David Davies - "It was an absolute farce, the referee had no idea. I'm not sure who was refereeing the game, the crowd or the opposition, but he [Mr Davies] generally took a fair bit of notice," said Dwyer - and the seeds of that had no doubt been sown by being prevented from playing South African lock Fritz Van Heerden because the organisers were not convinced of his eligibility.

"The better side won," added Dwyer, "There is no doubt about that, I don't think there was a minute in the match when we were in control. But while they can stop us playing Fritz we could not even get a replacement ball on the pitch when we wanted to because the ball boys were doing something else. The control of the sport is so amateurish it is farcical."

Whatever bad habits and moments of ill temper Pau had suffered from in the earlier matches, none were in evidence in the packed Stade Municipal de Hameau on a clear day at the foot of the Pyrenees.

There were one or two Leicester wobbles in the early scrums although at the line-outs they appeared invincible. But it did not last.

The opening try was sparked with a sudden burst through the Leicester ranks by talented full-back Nicolas Brusque in the sixth minute, his telling inside pass was snapped up by centre David Dantiacq who almost made it to the line, but the ball was rescued by lock Thierry Cleda, who was finally able to fall to earth some five metres over the 20-metre in-goal area.

Quarter of an hour later another assault on the right - Dantiacq's speed again a telling factor saw centre Frederic Leloir touching down some 15 metres into that in-goal area. International wing Philippe Bernat-Salles helped himself to a fine try midway through the second half and an injury- time effort from the worthy Brusque made sure that Neil Back's first half touchdown and Wasaile Serevi's after the interval were negated.

The only obvious unpleasantness came from Leicester, including a nasty moment when hooker Richard Cockerill clattered into Nicolas Bacque on the fringe of a ruck late in the game when the flanker did not even have the ball. He did not even get a yellow card.

Pau: Tries Cleda, Leloir, Bernat-Salles, Brusque; Conversions Aucagne 3; Penalties Aucagne 3.

Leicester: Tries Back, Serevi; Conversion Stransky; Penalties Stransky 2.

Pau: N Brusque; P Bernat-Salles, D Dantiacq, F Leloir, Y Martin; D Aucagne, F Torossian; P Triep-Capdeville (S Bria, 63), J Rey (capt), J-M Gonzalez, T Mentieres (A Lagouarde, 69), T Cleda, S Keith (S Vignolo, 53), N Bacque, F Rolles.

Leicester: M Horak; A Healey, W Greenwood, S Potter, L Lloyd; J Stransky, W Serevi; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth (P Freshwater, 75-80), M Johnson (capt), D Richards (J Wells, 63), M Corry, N Back, E Miller.

Referee: D Davies (Llanbradoch).