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Leicester 38-27 Perpignan

Leicester (20) 38
Tries: Flood, Mauger, Crane, Smith Cons: Flood 3 Pens: Flood 4

Perpignan (13) 27
Tries: Mermoz, Tonita, Penalty Cons: Mele 2 Pens: Mele 2

Toby Flood takes on Perpignan full-back Philip Burger
Flood takes on the unusually attired Philip Burger at Welford Road

Leicester stayed top of Pool Three in the Heineken Cup as they recorded a bonus-point win over Perpignan, with Toby Flood claiming a 23-point haul.

Flood's fine solo try, in addition to two early penalties, gave Leicester a healthy lead only for the visitors to level with a remarkable 70m score.

Aaron Mauger crossed just before the break for Leicester as Flood's kicks kept the scoreboard ticking over.

Perpignan cut the gap, but tries from Jordan Crane and Matt Smith sealed it.

With England manager Martin Johnson and attack coach Brian Smith watching from the stands, Flood had the opportunity to show his performance against New Zealand last weekend was a temporary blip in an otherwise impressive start to the season.

His goal-kicking ensured Leicester's early dominance in the pack was reflected in the scoreline, while his opposite number David Mele was not as accurate with the boot.

And when Leicester's number 10 got the ball in space, he stepped past Nathan Hines and then danced past three other defenders to score next to the posts.

Two Mele kicks got Perpignan into the match, and then a stunning try from Maxime Mermoz levelled the scores.

The centre took a long line-out in his own 22, stepped inside Flood and then shrugged off the Tigers cover defence to race almost the length of the field.

Leicester hit back on the stroke of half-time after a great Dan Hipkiss run set up the position for Mauger to dummy his way over the line.

The Tigers' pack started the second half with a magnificent statement of intent at the scrum, marching their opponents 15m back before winning a penalty for Flood to convert.

Dan Carter
Dan Carter was in the stands to watch his new Perpignan team-mates
Another Flood kick extended their lead, but a great finish out wide from Perpignan flanker Ovidiu Tonita kept the French side within six points of their opponents.

Perpignan's Philip Burger, eccentrically dressed in black tights, endured a nightmare at full-back with handling errors and missed tackles galore, and it was from one of his mistakes that Leicester stretched clear again.

An unstoppable Leicester scrum drove 10m over the line, with Crane showing ball control that Cristiano Ronaldo would be proud of at the back before picking up and burrowing over.

Good handling released Smith for Leicester's fourth try, and the winger eluded a half-hearted tackle from Burger to secure the bonus point.

With Hipkiss sin-binned in injury-time for killing the ball, Perpignan were awarded a last-gasp penalty try as a feisty game threatened to boil over in the dying seconds.

Words and punches were exchanged after the final whistle, suggesting a fierce encounter in next week's return fixture when superstar fly-half Dan Carter is expected to make his Perpignan debut.

Leicester fly-half Toby Flood:
"That pack was phenomenal. They have so much talent and so much want and desire to be successful.

"Julian White has done everything you possibly can do as a player and yet there he is at the forefront of our pack and pushing them over from 10 metres.

"Playing behind that pack and the atmosphere and drive it gives the team is unbelievable.

"And then you have Lewis Moody who just runs around like it is his last game and without a care in the world. You would never believe he has kids and a family!"

Leicester: G Murphy; Hamilton, Hipkiss, Mauger, Smith; Flood, Dupuy; Ayerza, Kayser, White, Corry, Kay, Croft, Moody, Crane.
Replacements: Rabeni for Mauger (74), J. Murphy for Smith (71), B Youngs for Dupuy (74), Chuter for Kayser (55), Cole for White (68), Wentzel for Corry (46), B Deacon for Crane (72).

Sin Bin: Hipkiss (79).

Perpignan: Burger; Plante, Manas, Mermoz, Candelon; Mele, Durand; Chobet, Guirado, Mas, Kairelis, Hines, Tonita, Perez, Chouly.
Replacements: Sid for Manas (68), Pulu for Chobet (47), Geli for Guirado (74), Britz for Kairelis (61), Olibeau for Tonita (61).
Not Used: Guiry, Porical.

Att: 17,371

Ref: Nigel Owens (WRFU).

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see also
Heineken Cup photos
07 Dec 08 |  Rugby Union
Meyer ignores Carter's omission
03 Dec 08 |  Leicester
Treviso 16-60 Leicester
18 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Ospreys 15-9 Perpignan
18 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Perpignan sign All Black Carter
27 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup 2008/9
17 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union

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