Perhaps Julian White was only making sure he got his retaliation in prematurely when he set about Malcolm O'Kelly with some neat combination work half-an-hour into the contest at Welford Road on Saturday. There would have been a certain street-smartness to that.
There was nothing clever about Leicester taking a Heineken Cup knock-out blow a week previously, in round five of the pool stages. At least the European heavyweights got their disappointment in early, though – unlike Leinster, who arrived on Saturday still as outside contenders for a quarter-final spot but who proceeded to blow any chance of qualification with a performance of lamentable, lightweight quality.
One consolation from Saturday's meaningless victory was the strength of the spirit shown by Marcelo Loffreda's team. They were a good way short of full-strength (with Martin Corry, Lewis Moody, Tom Croft, Aaron Mauger, Dan Hipkiss and Jim Hamilton, Harry Ellis and Alex Tuilagi on the injured list) yet the wounded Tigers set about their prey with vengeance.
They were two good tries, Brett Deacon plunging over on the left to finish off a multi-phase attack and Seru Rabeni skipping through the Leinster defence after taking a fine inside pass from Marco Wentzel – before White departed for the cooler. The tighthead was followed by Andy Goode, the Leicester fly-half having lassoed Brian O'Driscoll with a chin-high tackle.
How any team with the attacking gifts of O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy and Felipe Contepomi could fail to prosper from a two-man advantage will have to go down as one of life's mysteries, though Leicester's defending had not a little to do with it.
Their misery on Saturday was completed when Kiwi flanker Ben Herring burrowed over for a third Leicester try late on.Reuse content