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Sunday, 28 April, 2002, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Leicester break Llanelli hearts
Leicester full-back Tim Stimpson launches his match-winning kick
Stimpson launches the kick that stunned the Scarlets
Leicester 13-12 Llanelli
  Who are you tipping to win the Cup?
  Photo Gallery: See this story in pictures

Tim Stimpson produced a stunning 58 metre last-gasp penalty from deep inside his own half to put champions Leicester into the Heineken Cup final.

When Stimpson took aim with only a couple of minutes left it looked as though underdogs Llanelli were going to go through.

But the kick was on target all the way and bounced off the bar to clinch Leicester the narrowest of victories.

It was desperately hard luck on Llanelli, who produced a performance full of passion and commitment to rattle the defending champions to the core.

They restricted Leicester to a single try, scored when young scrum-half Harry Ellis darted over early in the second half, but could not get over the tryline themselves.

Martin Johnson congratulates Tim Stimpson on his match-winning kick
Martin Johnson congratulates the match winner

Once again it was Stephen Jones who did the damage for the Scarlets, kicking four penalties, but in the end it was the boot of Stimpson that produced decisive.

Llanelli took an early 6-3 lead through two Jones penalties, with Stimpson replying in kind for Leicester.

The Llanelli fly-half came into the game with a 100% record in the two matches against Leicester and he made it three from three after 25 minutes to give the Scarlets a 9-3 lead.

Both sides were struggling to establish any sort of pattern to their play as a combination of the swirling rain and intensity of the game took its toll, but Llanelli showed signs of edging the physical battle.

Jones' unblemished record came to an end in the final minute of normal time in the half as he pulled a penalty, and he then did the same with a drop goal 60 seconds later.

  Match details
Leicester:
Try: Harry Ellis
Conversion: Tim Stimpson
Penalties: Stimpson (2)
Llanelli:
Penalties: Stephen
Jones (4)

The half had been an archetypal physical contest, with both sides hammering into the tackle and not giving an inch of space to the opposition, but Llanelli enjoyed the better territorially and were worth their six-point lead.

The Scarlets had managed to keep the Tigers under lock and key for the first 40 minutes but within three minutes of the restart Leicester were in front.

First their forwards finally erupted around the fringes to put the champions on the front foot, and when the ball was spun wide Freddie Tuilagi thundered into centre field to set up the ruck.

Llanelli fanned wide to cover the Leicester runners but Harry Ellis spotted a gap, darted over the prone bodies and raced 25m before sliding over despite the tackle of Scarlets' full-back Garan Evans.
Llanelli's USA flanker David Hodges rises above Tim Stimpson and the rest of the Leicester team
Llanelli's Dave Hodges rises highest

Stimpson converted to put the Tigers in front for the first time and the try sparked Llanelli to open up, with a rampaging attack halted by Leicester just short of their line.

Jones missed a long-distance penalty soon after but was on target after 53 minutes as the Welsh side edged in front again.

As the game passed the hour mark Leicester began to put Llanelli under increasing pressure but they could not force a score, with basic errors halting them in their tracks whenever they sniffed an opening.

It looked as though the Tigers were on their way out, but cometh the hour, cometh the mighty boot of Stimpson to send the Tigers into the Heineken Cup final for the second year in a row.


Leicester: Stimpson, Murphy, Smith, Kafer, Tuilagi, Healey, Ellis, Rowntree, West, Garforth, M. Johnson, Kay, Moody, Back, Corry. Replacements: Freshwater, Cockerill, Deacon, Balding, Hamilton, Lloyd, Goode.

Llanelli: G. Evans, M. Jones, N. Boobyer, L. Davies, Finau, S. Jones, G. Easterby, Madden, McBryde, J. Davies, Cooper, Wyatt, Hodges, S. Easterby, Quinnell. Replacements: Booth, Thomas, Gross, I. Boobyer, Peel, G. Bowen, Proctor.

Referee: David McHugh (Ireland)

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Ian Robertson
"It was a tremendous finish"
Leicester's Tim Stimpson
"I felt I just about had the range"
Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins
"It's hard to deal with"
Links to more European stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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