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Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Sunday, 19 December 2010

Leicester 22-22 Perpignan

Leicester (13) 22
Try: A Tuilagi Con: Twelvetrees Pens: Twelvetrees 5
Perpignan (9) 22
Try: Mele Con: Laharrague Pens: Laharrague 4 Drop: Laharrague

Billy Twelvetrees (centre)
Twelvetrees (centre) impressed with his overall game but his missed kicks proved costly

Nicolas Laharrague's penalty denied Leicester a home victory in a thrilling Heineken Cup Pool Five clash.

Alesana Tuilagi ran a penalty in under the posts, with Billy Twelvetrees kicking six more points to give the Tigers a 13-9 lead at the break.

David Mele scored for the French after the restart but the Tigers dominated the scrum and territory thereafter.

Twelvetrees kicked nine more points before Laharrague took his tally to 17 with his 79th-minute equalising kick.

It was a bitter pill for Leicester to swallow, especially considering Twelvetrees had failed to make Leicester's second-half territorial advantage tell with two wayward penalties in the closing stages - one of which came off a post.

Richard Cockerill's men, however, can still reach the knock-out stage, lying second in the pool, two points behind Scarlets ahead of the pair's clash in Wales on 15 January.


Perpignan had started the brighter, holding their own in the battle of two mammoth scrums and moving the ball purposefully when given the opportunity.

The visitors, therefore, had soon engineered a fifth-minute drop-goal chance for Laharrague, although the fly-half was narrowly off target.

Three minutes later, though, Perpignan turned over to set up another drop attempt for Laharrague, who this time obliged from just outside the 22.

Perpignan gifted the Tigers an equaliser when they were penalised for offside just inside their own half and the kick from Twelvetrees - a late replacement for Toby Flood, who had an abductor muscle problem - was true and straight.

Laharrague missed the chance to punish the home side's indiscipline, missing his kick from the halfway line while Twelvetrees was well wide with another penalty in the 25th minute.

Moments later, though, Twelvetrees instigated Leicester's first break of the afternoon that would ultimately result in another three points.

The 22-year-old surged through a gap in the middle and drew the tackle before releasing to Steve Mafi, only for the flanker to misplace his pass. Twelvetrees, however, pounced on a hesitant Mele after the scrum-half had fumbled. And when referee Peter Fitzgibbon eventually blew up for offside, Twelvetrees' effort sailed over from the touchline.

Laharrague got his team back on terms with another penalty before the home side took the lead thanks to a blistering Geordan Murphy surge up field, followed by a moment of quick-thinking opportunism from Alesana Tuilagi.

A Ben Youngs offload hit Murphy at pace in midfield and the Irish full-back's diagonal trajectory took him deep into the right-hand corner.

The Tigers worked through 12 phases to win a penalty five metres out under the posts, and with Perpignan's defence sleeping - Mele particularly guilty with his back to the play - Tuilagi tapped and ran over before Twelvetrees added the easy extras.

A late hit from Mafi on David Marty, though, resulted in Laharrague knocking over another penalty on the stroke of half-time to make it 13-9 - the same interval score in last weekend's fixture in France where Perpignan went on to win 24-19.

Another piece of slack defending played a major part in the game's second try in the 42nd minute. Mele collected a Henry Tuilagi pass from a scrum in the corner and just five metres from the Tigers line, and the scrum-half burrowed over on the blindside with Scott Hamilton unable to make up the ground in time after being poorly positioned as the nearest cover 15 metres from the touchline.

Laharrague converted to edge Perpignan in front, but when hooker Marius Tincu and lock Olivier Olibeau were withdrawn in quick succession by the French, Leicester were soon bossing the scrum.

Prolonged Leicester pressure allowed Twelvetrees to send over two more penalties, however, Laharrague again drew the scores level from the tee.

Twelvetrees had number eight Thomas Waldrom to thank for yet another kickable chance, which he landed to edge his side back in front, after the number eight had launched himself through several despairing Perpignan tackles.

The Catalans' lock Rimas Alvarez Kairelis was sin-binned for pulling down George Skivington in a line-out, however, Twelvetrees missed two more shots at goal and, when Waldrom was penalised for killing the ball, Laharrague earned his side two points from 50m out after the Tigers had conceded 10m because of backchat.

Leicester: Murphy, Hamilton, Smith, Allen, A Tuilagi, Twelvetrees, Youngs, Ayerza, Chuter, Castrogiovanni, Deacon, Skivington, Waldrom, Newby, Mafi.
Not Used: Hawkins, White, Cole, Slater, Green, Grindal, Staunton, M Tuilagi.

Perpignan: Michel, Sid, Marty, Mermoz, Plante, Laharrague, Mele, Freshwater, Tincu, Mas, Alvarez, Olibeau, Le Corvec, Perez, Tuilagi.
Replacements: Edmonds for Sid (71), Cazenave for Mele (66), Pulu for Freshwater (68), Geli for Tincu (46), Tchale-Watchou for Olibeau (48), Tonita for Perez (71), Chouly for Tuilagi (60). Not Used: Bourrust.

Sin bin: Alvarez (72).

Att: 19,519

Ref: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland).

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see also
Cockerill fumes over 'cheating'
19 Dec 10 |  Rugby Union
Still plenty to play for - Cockerill
19 Dec 10 |  Leicester
Perpignan 24-19 Leicester
11 Dec 10 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup tables
09 Aug 06 |  Tables
Rugby Union commentaries
09 Sep 10 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup 2010/11
29 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union

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