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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 April 2007, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Leicester v Scarlets
Walkers Stadium, Leicester - 21 April, 2007, 1500 BST



By Bruce Pope

Fly-half Andy Goode scored Leicester's opening try
Fly-half Andy Goode scored Leicester's opening try
Leicester 33 (16)
Tries: Goode, Jennings, Deacon.
Cons: Goode 3.
Pens: Goode 4.

Scarlets 17 (10)
Tries: M Jones, Rees.
Cons: S Jones 2.
Pens: S Jones.

Andy Goode shone as he led Leicester into the Heineken Cup final at the expense of Llanelli Scarlets in a thriller at the Walkers Stadium.

The England fly-half scored the Tigers' opening try and engineered another for Shane Jennings with a fine chip.

Goode also kicked 18 points including the conversion of Louis Deacon's late try that sealed a first all-English final with Wasps, who beat Northampton.

Scarlets claimed tries from Mark Jones and Matt Rees but only led briefly.

The match was going to be third time lucky for one of the teams, with the Scarlets - in their previous club guise before regional rugby - having lost their two previous semi-finals to Northampton and Saturday's opponents Leicester.

606: DEBATE

The Tigers in turn had lost both previous matches they had played at the Walkers Stadium, to Toulouse in the 2005 semi-finals and then to Bath in last season's quarters.

Goode drew first blood for Leicester with a penalty from halfway, making his kick with ease on the shorter pitch more usually home to the city's football team.

The fly-half made more of a meal with a shorter attempt soon after as the Scarlets were pulled up for obstruction, but Goode's kick did go over with the help of the inside of the post.

Fly-half Stephen Jones got the Scarlets on the scoreboard with his own penalty before a flowing move, sparked by the fine midfield combination of Regan King and Gavin Evans, took the Welsh into the Tigers' 22.

Leicester full-back Geordan Murphy cynically killed the ball to earn 10 minutes in the sin-bin from referee Alain Rolland, but Jones surprisingly missed the regulation penalty kick that followed.

The Scarlets were trying to implement their expansive running game but the Leicester forwards were making a nuisance of themselves at the breakdown, either slowing things down or stealing possession.

Leicester centre Daryl Gibson picked off a midfield interception and wing Tom Varndell would have been over had he not fumbled the inside pass.

Then Tigers scrum-half Harry Ellis was denied as his chip ahead dribbled into touch.

Goode added a third penalty to restore Leicester's six-point lead, while Scarlets full-back Barry Davies was just short with a long-range kick.

If the Welsh were looking to run around their opponents, Alesana Tuilagi on the Leicester side was intent on running through his.

Scarlets centre Regan King takes on Leicester skipper Martin Corry
Scarlets centre Regan King takes on Leicester skipper Martin Corry

The Samoan was playing with number 11 on his back but regularly came off his wing to punch into a buckling Scarlets midfield.

That was the path Goode took to claim Leicester's opening try, spotting a half-gap between forwards Matthew Rees and Gavin Thomas for a try he converted himself.

But with time running out before the break, back came the Scarlets as King lofted an incisive miss-pass to the left wing for Mark Jones to race over.

Stephen Jones adding a difficult conversion in off the post to cut Leicester's lead to 16-10 at half-time.

The second period began with a spat between Tigers prop Alex Moreno and opposite number Deacon Manu that saw the pair yellow-carded.

Scarlets welcomed the extra space and King again showed his class to break through before Rees crashed over.

Stephen Jones' conversion put the Welsh into the lead for the first time but it was short-lived.

Goode spotted space in behind the Scarlets backline and his sublime chip was gathered by flanker Jennings to outstrip the cover for a precious seven-pointer.

The Tigers moved two scores clear when Goode, who earlier had been wide with another huge penalty attempt, kicked his fourth penalty of the afternoon.

Scarlets came flying back and fierce defence kept first Rees and then Davies out, before the Welsh wasted an even more guilt-edged chance.

The visitors' pack won a scrum against the head in the Leicester 22, but Dafydd James chose to ignore a four-man overlap and instead charged head-down before losing the ball.

The Scarlets had the upper hand as they desperately sought a way back on the scoreboard, but were caught out by a Tigers counter.

Jennings showed great pace for a back-row down the left wing although his chip ahead for Sam Vesty was just kicked dead by the covering Davies.

But Leicester kept up the pressure and a series of drives wore down the Welsh defence before lock Deacon surged over for a try that sealed the win.

The Premiership-chasing Tigers can now look foward to a tilt at claiming a third Heineken Cup title, as well as a season trophy treble following their EDF Energy Cup victory.


Leicester: G Murphy; T Varndell, D Hipkiss, D Gibson, A Tuilagi; A Goode, H Ellis; A Moreno, G Chuter, J White, L Deacon, B Kay, L Moody, S Jennings, M Corry (capt).
Replacements: G Hickie, M Holford for Moreno (64), L Cullen for Kay (61), B Deacon for S. Jennings (78), F Murphy, S Vesty for Gibson (40), S Rabeni for Varndell (67).

Sin Bin: G. Murphy (13), Moreno (44).

Llanelli Scarlets: B Davies; D James, R King, G Evans, M Jones; S Jones, D Peel; I Thomas, M Rees, D Manu, V Cooper, S MacLeod, S Easterby (capt), G Thomas, A Popham.
Replacements: K Owens, J Davies, I Afeaki for Cooper (71), N Thomas for Popham (71), L Davies, C Thomas, M Watkins.

Sin Bin: Manu (44).

Att: 30,121

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland).



SEE ALSO
Howard hails Goode's performance
21 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Davies proud of defeated Scarlets
21 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup photos
21 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup 2006/7
16 Aug 06 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
01 May 06 |  Wales


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