Flood misses could be costly as Tigers fail to sweep Clermont away

Leicester Tigers 23 Clermont Auvergne 19: French bonus point leaves Leicester needing to win in Belfast next time out

Welford Road

The last knockings of this gripping Heineken Cup match became as much a mental exercise as a physical one. Toby Flood, Leicester's England fly-half, checked with touchline flunkies linked by microphone to the director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, whether to kick a penalty for touch or go for goal. With a four-point lead and aiming to deny Clermont a bonus point for losing by seven or less, Flood put the ball out. Nothing came of it. A subsequent Clermont throw secured by Julien Bonnaire kept the margin intact to the end.

Sometimes in Europe, winning is not enough. It may be that Clermont and Leicester make it to the quarter-finals but the French side – having won the sides' first meeting 30-12 in the Massif Central a week ago to create a better record in the head to head – are favoured to finish top. In any case, as Cockerill admitted, Leicester almost certainly need to win in Ulster in their next match to qualify first or second. The Irish province are in decent nick and Ravenhill is rarely a place to go needing to win. Leicester should know. Their only previous visit in the Heineken Cup, eight seasons ago, is remembered with a tremble. A team captained from the bench by Martin Johnson played into the wind and were 28-0 down at half-time before losing 33-0. It remains the two-time champions' heaviest European loss.

All this knife-edge stuff was described by Cockerill as the "drama" of the competition. Not that there was any spice or spite lacking on the pitch, whatever the maths off it.

Flood, watched by the England interim head coach, Stuart Lancaster,will have had much happier first halves. It began with the No 10 looking sideways to organise his backs when Ben Youngs at scrum-half was firing the ball at him and it continued with missed penalties in the fourth and 37th minutes. The latter was from long range, similar to one missed by Brock James for Clermont, but the first Flood should have potted.

Clermont led 6-0, bright and alert as their France half-backs, David Skrela (who later went off injured) and Morgan Parra, chipped over drop-goals. But when Leicester made it into the 22 they had their reward. Possibly with a little chicanery at the side of a ruck after a line-out, they engineered a wide channel in midfield defended only by Parra and Flood's inside pass set up Manu Tuilagi for a run-in. The conversion in front was simple for Flood.

Parra's penalty on 19 minutes put Clermont 9-7 ahead and two minutes before the interval Flood forced a pass to Martin Castrogiovanni, who lost control. There appeared to be a Clermont fumble forward but play went on and Wesley Fofana streaked away on the counter, combining with the flanker Alexandre Lapandry up the middle to create an overlap on the right that was exploited by Regan King and Lee Byrne for the All Black wing Sitiveni Sivivatu to score and Parra to convert.

It is becoming difficult to find a weak link in any top French club side. Clermont lost the centre Aurelié* Rougerie to illness in the week and the lock Jason White to a tight hamstring in the first half, but they had capable stand-ins. They were clever in ripping ball after the tackle and Byrne kicked superbly out of hand. Yet Leicester stole possession in the line-out, the turnovers were just about even and it was a close-run thing.

Ten points in the first seven minutes of the second half did Leicester no harm. Flood kicked a penalty then Youngs made one of his favourite round-the-corner snipes and Julian Salvi, on his shoulder, finished Tigers' second try, converted by Flood.

Parra slid over a penalty off the left-hand post before Flood, from the 22, made it 20-19 just after the hour. That was a penalty against Gerhard Vosloo for killing the ball but though Cockerill grumbled about inconsistent refereeing of the breakdown it looked 50-50 overall.

Sivivatu's spill almost gave Leicester the try they needed to pull clear; Scott Hamilton had a head start in the foot race but lost it when he slid in to pick up rather than hacking on. A scrum penalty each way gave Flood three points and James a second miss from 50 metres and the Tigers had to settle for what may prove to be second best, or even worse. If they fail, England could well have one representative in the last eight – Saracens – or possibly none.

Leicester Tigers G Murphy (capt); H Agulla (S Hamilton, 48), M Smith, A Tuilagi; T Flood, B Youngs; B Stankovich (D Cole, 27-35), G Chuter, M Castrogiovanni (Cole, 49), L Deacon, G Skivington, T Croft, T Waldrom, J Salvi.

Clermont Auvergne L Byrne; S Sivivatu, R King, W Fofana, J Malzieu; D Skrela (B James, 29), M Parra; L Faure (V Debaty, 48), T Paulo (B Kayser, 59), C Ric (D Kotze, 55), J Cudmore, J White (N Hines, 23), G Vosloo, J Bonnaire (capt), A Lapandry.

Referee N Owens (Wales).

Leicester Tigers

Tries: M Tuilagi, Salvi

Cons: Flood 2

Pens: Flood 3

Clermont Auvergne

Try: Sivivatu

Con: Parra

Pens: Parra 2

DGs: Skrela, Parra

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices