Croft laments Leicester's lack of cunning after European exit

Leinster 17 Leicester 10

Whatever it was that enabled Leicester to dominate European competition a decade ago, it was not playing to the letter of the law. That turn-of-the-century team waged the physical battle to its limits and had a few hard-eyed so-and-so's led by Martin Johnson capable of getting the rest of the job done with mental resourcefulness.

Unfortunately there are only so many Johnsons to go around in a generation, or even a lifetime, and everyone from the kids waving blue Leinster banners at the renovated Lansdowne Road to the Dublin taxi drivers ferrying sad-eyed Tigers supporters to the airport yesterday morning had seen it in this Heineken Cup quarter-final. Leinster beat Leicester at their own game.

Tom Croft, the Leicester flanker, did not concede the point absolutely – after all, it goes to the core of what it means to be a Leicester player – but he went some way towards it after Isa Nacewa's 49th-minute try and Jonathan Sexton's four penalties knocked the champions of 2001 and 2002 out. Leinster's Kevin McLaughlin was a menace to Leicester in the line-out, jogging the arm of Ed Slater as one of four lost Tigers throws led, after a few phases and a missed touch kick by Ben Youngs, to Nacewa, the Leinster full-back, who scored.

Though Leicester gradually got to grips with the scrummage it was jolting to find that – as when England were beaten in their Grand Slam bid on the same ground three weeks previously – the Irish felt it was an area to attack in the formative minutes of the match.

"In the first 15 or 20 minutes we weren't as physical as we should have been at the breakdown," Croft said. "Sometimes we were trying to be good and go straight through the gate whereas they [Leinster] may have taken things from the side. It's something we need to learn."

Croft also said "it felt like a pretty decent game to watch", which certainly would not have interested Johnson when he was on the wrong end of a big result, or even the right end. The cumulative effect of these two Dublin defeats – it could be argued, of course, the results might have been different at Welford Road or Twickenham – was to question the cuteness and cussedness of Croft and his England club-mates Youngs, Toby Flood, Louis Deacon and Dan Cole. Each of them, at least, has a few years left in them to work it out.

Leinster had leaders aplenty. Brian O'Driscoll, though barely able to lift an arm in the tackle due to various bangs – some of them inflicted by the hugely promising Manu Tuilagi – bobbed and weaved as ever. Richardt Strauss was a ball of energy, and Sean O'Brien's never-say-die lunge put Alesana Tuilagi off just enough for the Leicester wing to hit the touchline in-goal as he dived for what would have been a valuable try two minutes into the second half.

If the score had stood Leicester might have led 10-9. Instead Nacewa, benefiting from another undetected forward pass, weaved 40 metres through the Leicester backs and it was 14-3.

Scorers: Leinster: Try Nacewa; Pens Sexton 4.

Leicester: Try Hawkins; Con Flood; Pen Flood.

Leinster I Nacewa; S Horgan (F McFadden, 75), B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, E Reddan (I Boss, 58); C Healy (H van der Merwe, 77), R Strauss, M Ross, L Cullen (capt), N Hines, K McLaughlin (D Ryan, 67), S O'Brien, J Heaslip.

Leicester S Hamilton; H Agulla (M Smith, 77), M Tuilagi, A Allen, A Tuilagi; T Flood, B Youngs; B Stankovich (D Cole, 75), G Chuter (R Hawkins, 75), D Cole (M Castrogiovanni, 51), L Deacon (E Slater, 28), S Mafi, T Croft, C Newby (capt), J Crane (T Waldrom, 61).

Referee N Owens (Wales).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea