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Tigers derailed in Catalan country

11 Dec 2010
Tigers derailed in Catalan country

Perpignan brushed aside their dismal domestic form to edge out Leicester 24-19 in Pool Five of the Heineken Cup.

The French giants had not won since October in the Top 14 but tries from Adrien Plante and 19-point Jerome Porical set them on their way to a morale-boosting victory in the south of France.

Leicester became the third team to make their 100th appearance in the competition but Geordan Murphy's late score allowed them to collect a valuable losing bonus point which enabled them to hold a slender one-point advantage over the Catalans at the top of the pool.

Prior to the clash, the two-time European champions were boosted off the field by Tom Croft agreeing a two-year contract extension to remain at Welford Road.

It did not take long for Toby Flood, declared fit again after taking a knock playing for England against South Africa a fortnight ago, to take centre stage. Flood saw his third-minute penalty from 40 metres fly through the posts despite a deflection off the left-hand upright after Bertrand Guiry was penalised for an infringement at a line-out.

The visitors were awarded a second penalty inside four minutes but Flood opted to go for touch rather than goal to demonstrate their early confidence.

Perpignan full-back Porical missed the chance to tie the scores in the eighth minute when his attempt from halfway fell just short, but he made no mistake to draw the hosts level on 17 minutes after Perpignan held the edge at the scrum.

Leicester regained the lead five minutes later courtesy of Flood's second penalty after opposite number Nicolas Laharrague failed to roll away.

A mixed kicking afternoon for Porical continued with a missed chance in front of goal before the half ended in controversy. David Marty was the first of three players sin-binned in the 36th minute after the French centre deliberately obstructed Ben Youngs' pass deep in the Perpignan 22.

Flood fired home his third penalty to extend Leicester's lead to 9-3 but Porical cut the deficit almost instantly with his second successful three-point strike.

Then, as the opening period came to a finale, both sides lost a man to the sin-bin with Irish official Alan Lewis losing his patience after a passage of eight scrums. Marcus Tincu and George Chuter were deemed the culprits but Perpignan's 13 men rallied to score a vital try with the final play of the half.

Laharrague produced a neat cross-kick and wing Plante collected and rounded Murphy to touchdown before Porical converted for a 13-9 interval lead.

Porical recovered from a miserable start with the boot to show his strong running talent to double the home side's try count. Damien Chouly claimed a lineout and a swift attacking move sent Porical away in space and the full-back accelerated past Murphy and beat the cover of Anthony Allen and Alesana Tuilagi to score in the left corner.

Porical failed to add the extras and Leicester hit back with their first try of the match three minutes later. Flood fed Scott Hamilton, who burst through Perpignan centre pair Marty and Joffrey Michel to supply Murphy with a routine finish.

Flood converted to bring the score to 18-16 but could not hand Leicester the lead with a 64th-minute penalty miss. Porical struck two late penalties before Flood notched one for the Tigers, who clung on for a losing bonus point.

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