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The Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2009

The Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2009

Making their fifth Premiership Rugby Final appearance on the bounce, Leicester Tigers needed to call on all of their experience to edge out London Irish and lift the Aviva Premiership Rugby trophy in 2009.

Tigers finished top of the pile in the regular season and claimed a narrow 10-9 victory over unexpected challengers Irish at the Twickenham showpiece.
 
Leicester secured top spot thanks to 15 wins, including a crushing 73-3 demolition of Bristol Rugby, before beating Bath Rugby 24-10 in the semi-final with tries from Dan Hipkiss, Sam Vesty and Lewis Moody.
 
It was new director of rugby Richard Cockerill's first championship after taking over the reins from South African Heyneke Meyer midway through the season.
 
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London Irish surprised Harlequins 17-0 at the Stoop in the other semi-final, to reach their first Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham in Toby Booth's first season in charge of the Exiles, following Brian Smith’s departure to join the England setup.
 
Irish finished third in the table, with experienced Aussie full-back Peter Hewat masterminding their rise with his reliable kicking game.
 
But it was Leicester who edged a tightly-fought final with a 62nd-minute try from Jordan Crane, despite underdogs London Irish playing the more expansive game.
 
Hewat gave Irish the perfect start with a drop goal from 45 metres after 20 seconds, but scrum-half Julien Dupuy levelled with a penalty on 18 minutes.
 
Hewat struck the post with a penalty to send the sides in at the break locked at 3-3, with Leicester reduced to 14 after Crane was sin-binned.
 
Delon Armitage struck two penalties but Crane's intervention, converted by Dupuy, was enough to give Leicester the narrowest of victories.
 
 
 
“They played exceptionally well and stopped us playing,” said Cockerill.
 
“We deserve to be champions over the season, nobody can disagree with us being top of the table and then winning today.
 
“You've got to give credit to Toby Booth and Irish, they came out and gave us a hell of a battle and they could have easily won the game. In the end we earned it, but only just."
 
Meanwhile for Booth and the Exiles, it was a case of what might have been.
 
“You don't want to come second and for long spells we were the superior side, but you have to capitalise on what you create,” he said.
 
“We paid the price for that and lost by the narrowest of margins.
 
"Leicester are streetwise because they've been there or thereabouts for a while.”
 
Leicester Tigers 10 London Irish 9
 
Leicester Tigers: G Murphy, Hamilton, Erinle, Hipkiss, J Murphy (Smith 21), Vesty, Dupuy, Ayerza, Chuter (Kayser 57), White (Cole 74), Croft, Kay, Newby, Woods (Moody 59), Crane Not used: Deacon, Ellis, Varndell
 
London Irish: Hewat (Seveali'i 62), Thompstone (Homer 41), D Armitage D, Mapusua, Tagicakibau, Catt, Hodgson, Dermody (Johnson 72), Coetzee (Buckland 72), Skuse (Corbisiero 62), Hudson, Casey, Danaher (Thorpe 41), S Armitage, Hala’ufia Not used: Richards
 
Leicester Tigers
Tries: Crane
Conversions: Dupuy
Penalties: Dupuy
 
London Irish
Penalties: D Armitage 2
Drop goals: Hewat
 
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Attendance: 81,601

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