Perpignan outmuscle Leicester
December 11, 2010
Perpignan's flanker Bertrand Guiry grabs the ball in a lineout
© Getty Images
Perpignan bolstered their Heineken Cup challenge with a 24-19 victory over Leicester at the Stade Aime Giral on Saturday.
A try from wing Adrien Plante and a 19-point haul from fullback Jerome Porical, courtesy of a try, a conversion and four penalties, ensured the Catalans notched a deserved victory that sees them close the gap on the Tigers at the top of Pool 5. Fullback Geordan Murphy crossed for a second-half try for Leicester and returning England fly-half Toby Flood weighed in with 14 points but they had to settle for a losing bonus point against their physically superior rivals.
An early penalty at a lineout allowed Flood to open the scores and another infringement at the breakdown moments later enabled the pivot to take the game inside the Perpignan 22, although on this occasion hooker George Chuter failed to find lock Louis Deacon in the lineout. Further pressure from the home side soon saw Tigers scrum-half Ben Youngs engulfed by defenders but Porical's resulting penalty kick fell just short of the posts.
Indiscipline and basic errors continued to plague Perpignan's early efforts but Leicester were frustrated in their attempts to stretch their lead by some determined defence from the hosts, who claimed a major psychological victory with a big scrum just past the quarter hour. As a result Porical was able to level the scores from the kicking tee. But the whistle soon returned to haunt Perpignan with fly-half Nicolas Laharrague the next to be penalised at the breakdown, allowing his opposite number to restore the Tigers' lead.
Perpignan enjoyed long spells on the front foot but they lacked the precision to make their dominance count on the scoreboard. And even when Leicester's shortcomings played into their hands, the Tigers failing to commit players to the breakdown, Porical could only deliver another wayward effort.
Leicester caught Perpignan asleep as the half drew to a close with centre Matt Smith ghosting through the defensive line before finding Jordan Crane in support. Perpignan scrambled back as Youngs recycled the ball and his pass hit centre David Marty, whose lazy running was penalised with a yellow card and Flood's third penalty.
But Porical closed the gap a minute later with his second successful kick after the Leicester pack once again came off second best at the scrum. The fullback was involved again moments later, with an excellent kick and chase forcing Leicester wing Scott Hamilton into some desperate defence on his own line. His intervention led to an epic series of scrums that would eventually create the first try of the game.
The Tigers were penalised at the first attempt and Perpignan went for the jugular at the next but following a warning from referee Alan Lewis both hookers - Leicester's George Chuter and Perpignan's Marius Tincu - were sin-binned for failing to stay down in the scrum. The change in personnel did little to remedy the situation with the next penalty going the way of the hosts, who had no hesitation in opting for another. This time, scrum-half David Mele peeled off but slipped as he looked to exploit a huge gap, allowing Leicester to re-group. But the ball was recycled by Perpignan with a cross kick from Laharrague finding Plante out wide and the winger squeezed in at the corner. Porical's conversion cemented Perpignan's lead as the sides headed to the tunnel.
Leicester opted to give the ball a little more air at the start of the second-half but it was Perpignan who went closest to notching the next score with Marty bundled into touch after some neat interplay. Laharrague then carved an opening for Plante in midfield but his team-mate was unable to take the pass with the Leicester defence split. The pressure finally told with quick hands working the ball to Porical, who fooled Murphy before powering away to the corner with an impressive turn of foot.
Leicester hit back just two minutes later with Murphy again a key figure in proceedings. A flat pass from Flood put Hamilton through on the Perpignan 22 and he found his skipper, who had the pace to carry him over in the corner for the try. Flood stepped up to nail the conversion that brought his side to within two points.
The Tigers weathered a ferocious riposte from Perpignan and could have stolen the lead with Flood's next penalty but his latest effort drifted just wide. Youngs spearheaded the next Tigers attack but a turnover gifted Perpignan the chance to counter. A kick and chase from Julien Candelon stretched the visitors, who may have prevented the try but could not stop Porical adding to his personal tally with his third penalty. And he edged his side nearer victory with his fourth shortly after following an early tackle from Hamilton in midfield.
Flood brought is side back in to bonus point range with his fourth penalty as the game entered the closing stages. The Tigers then set off in pursuit of the win only to gift Porical the chance to deny them anything from the game. But his effort and a last gasp drop goal attempt from Mele were both wide of the target.
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