In filthy, cat-and-dog rain it was the big cats, in the form of Leicester Tigers, who dug themselves into the sometimes dogged defence of Bourgoin to control this exhibition of raw power from the beginning, only to make every attempt to fall apart at the end of this Heineken Cup tie.
They set the tone in the first half, the pack battering the opponents into submission, the backs behind, in the form of Geordan Murphy and Tom Varndell, picking up two tries. With Bourgoin's Scottish flanker, Mark Rennie, in the sin bin, they piled up 13 points, two Andy Goode penalties and his touchline conversion of Varndell's try being followed, on the stroke of half-time, by a Harry Ellis break and scoring pass to Martin Corry to earn a 28-3 lead.
That was it as far as the Leicester scoring effort was concerned. They had to soak up pressure from a reinvigorated Bourgoin for most of the second half. Twice they were down to 13 men as Corry, Brett Deacon and Goode all picked up yellow cards and Dan Hipkiss was lucky not to suffer the same fate.
Bourgoin are not a team known for their European Cup prowess: they have lost 11 of the 20 home matches they have played in the competition. They are far more concerned with their domestic league, where they are sitting in sixth place. They showed why when their replacement hooker Benoit Cabello completed a Leicester-type drive and Jean-François Coux dived over in the corner. But it was all too late to turn this tie around.
Corry said: "It was never going to be a fast, free-flowing game. It was disappointing not to get a fourth try, but at the start of the game I would have taken that result. We knew they would come out hard in the second half and we were guilty of giving them too much ball."
He added: "After we lost to Munster in the first round, we said we had to win every game to qualify. That's what we now need three more wins. "
Bourgoin: S Laloo; M Nicholas, G Bousses (G Davis, 66), R Coetzee, J-F Coux; B Boyet (F Denos, 74), M Parra (M Prendergast, 54); O Milloud (D Khinchagishvili, 77), R Vigneaux (B Cabello, 62), O Sourgens (P Cardinali, 40), C del Fava, B Williams, M Rennie, B Monzeglio, J Bonnaire (W Jooste, 74).
Leicester: S Vesty (Cornwell, 63); G Murphy, D Hipkiss, D Gibson (S Vesty, 74), T Varndell (J Murphy, 59); A Goode, H Ellis; M Ayerza (A Moreno, 51), G Chuter, M Castrogiovanni, L Cullen, L Deacon (J Hamilton, 65; L Deacon, 78), L Moody, S Jennings (B Deacon, 68), M Corry.
Referee: D Courtney (Ireland).Reuse content