Collins hails his Ponty battlers

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The Independent Online

An elated Pontypridd coach, Richie Collins, saluted the "enormous" defensive effort of his team on Friday night after they had condemned Leicester to the same fate as Wasps and Bath on recent trips to Wales. Fly-half Lee Jarvis kicked six penalties - three in each half - to give Pontypridd an 18-11 success against the Premiership champions in the Heineken Cup.

An elated Pontypridd coach, Richie Collins, saluted the "enormous" defensive effort of his team on Friday night after they had condemned Leicester to the same fate as Wasps and Bath on recent trips to Wales. Fly-half Lee Jarvis kicked six penalties - three in each half - to give Pontypridd an 18-11 success against the Premiership champions in the Heineken Cup.

Leicester scored the only try of the match when Tim Stimpson touched down after 19 minutes, yet a combination of poor Leicester discipline, outstanding Pontypridd defence and Jarvis's prodigious right boot saw off the threat of the Tigers.

"The guys were enormous in defence; they really rattled Leicester," Collins said. "People have been saying already that they have never seen Leicester turn over so much ball, and I was just glad for us that Lee Jarvis had his kicking boots on. Welford Road next Saturday is another game on another day, and we realise that Leicester are awesome on their own patch."

The Pontypridd captain, Paul John, added: "It was great to get a win and turn over a big side like Leicester. Lee put over the kicks that mattered, and the commitment of everyone was tremendous."

Leicester's manager, Dean Richards, offered no excuses, even though Leicester should have had the game wrapped up by half-time, such was their territorial dominance. "We just made too many mistakes," a glum Richards said. "It wasn't just the penalty counts, it was also the errors that we made.

"We knew it would be a real mud fight down here, and I thought that Pontypridd played outstandingly well. All we can do now, is look forward to the return match next Saturday."

Although they dominated the first period territorially, Leicester turned around just 11-9 up and Jarvis punished them with match-winning strikes in the 51st, 57th and 72nd minutes. Jarvis, among the Heineken Cup's most prolific scorers, missed only one shot from seven attempts.

The dramatic closing stages were a far cry from the opening flurries when Leicester laid siege to Pontypridd's 22. But once Pontypridd broke out of their own half, Jarvis slotted two further penalties for a narrow lead before Stimpson's try put Tigers ahead at the break.

The second period will go down as one of total misery for the visitors. The regular sight of Tigers' captain Martin Johnson querying the Scottish referee John Hogg's decisions underlined just how seriously Leicester's challenge had come off the rails.

Leicester's defeat has thrown Pool Six wide open, with Pontypridd now joining them as serious quarter-final contenders. A Pau victory at Glasgow Caledonians today would see them join Leicester and Pontypridd on four points from three matches.

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