Leinster 22 Leicester 9: Contepomi too cute for Tigers

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The Independent Online

It would seem reasonable to suppose that if Alesana Tuilagi at full pelt cannot breach the opposition lines – the Samoan supertanker tried at the end of the first half in Dublin and was placed on his bottom by Keith Gleeson – then Andy Goode, who is more of a Coventry canal barge, will not make it through either. That Leicester refused to learn such a simple lesson explained this damaging defeat.

The Tigers, despite a line-out under pressure from Malcolm O'Kelly and a scrum not quite able to make Ollie le Roux bend the knee, had enough possession to win twice, and they chose to use it on short passes and charges from backs and forwards alike. It was slick enough, in its way. However, while Leinster's backs and back row are many things, a number of of them as pleasant on the eye as the try madefor Shane Horgan by Felipe Contepomi, they are not defensively naïve. Contepomi, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Girvan Dempsey and Co, helped by the front five as well as Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip and the former Leicester flanker Shane Jennings, stopped every attack in its tracks.

More often than not, and particularly in a 20-minute spell into half-time when a Tigers pack led by the No 8 Jordan Crane turned the screw, the home side then secured a turnover. How Leicester missed Danny Hipkiss, their one man adept at taking contact and then, Contepomi-like, slipping the ball away. The England centre withdrew before kick-off, with flu.

In the final minutes, the game gone but hopes of a bonus point lingering, Leicester staged their first attack with any real pace as Geordan Murphy intercepted in his own 22. Not only did Horgan catch him, but Tuilagi and Ollie Smith were unable to finish the try in the final five metres after Murphy had kept the ball alive. Leinster, again, turned the ball over and cleared.

Contepomi outkicked Goode, knocking over five penalties to the extravagantly bewhiskered Englishman's three, and the Argentinian stand-off – a centre at the World Cup – also created and converted Horgan's try.

Straight from a scrum onthe Leicester 22, Contepomi exchanged passes with O'Driscoll and then fed D'Arcy, dummy runs between the passers staying just on the right side of the law to create a run to the line for Horgan that the indefatigable Lewis Moody, haring across, could not quite halt in the corner. The invention and flair involved in that move, and hinted at elsewhere, justified a valuable victory for the Irish side.

Leinster: G Dempsey; S Horgan, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, R Kearney (L Fitzgerald, 59); F Contepomi,C Whitaker; O le Roux, B Jackman (B Blaney, 77),S Wright (J Francisco Gomez, 69), L Cullen, M O'Kelly,K Gleeson, S Jennings, J Heaslip.

Leicester: G Murphy; J Murphy, O Smith, S Rabeni, A Tuilagi; A Goode, F Murphy; M Ayerza, B Kayser (M Davies, 77), J White (M Castrogiovanni, 50),L Deacon (J Hamilton, 77), B Kay, M Corry (capt),L Moody, J Crane.

Referee: C Berdos (France).

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