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Sunday, 8 December, 2002, 16:56 GMT
Tigers take control
Leicester's Freddie Tuilagi escapes the Beziers defence
Freddie Tuilagi was sin-binned against Beziers
Beziers 12-24 Leicester

Defending champions Leicester bounced back from losing their unbeaten home league record last week by claiming a valuable Heineken Cup victory at Beziers.

Second-half tries from centre Ollie Smith and wing Leon Lloyd enabled Leicester to leapfrog the Frenchmen at the top of pool one.

And with Neath crashing at Amatori and Calvisano on Saturday, the Tigers' passage into the quarter-finals appears assured.

Beziers started brightly but were handicapped by a malfunctioning line-out in a first half that saw both sides lose a man to the sin-bin.

We got a hard time in the scrum

Dean Richards
Leicester manager

Leicester wing Freddie Tuilagi was first to see yellow, for a high tackle on diminutive home captain Pierre Mignoni in the 16th minute.

Irish referee Alan Lewis brandished the card again seven minutes later, this time to home prop Tariel Ratianadze for foul play.

Bezier led 6-3 at the break through two Jean-Frederic Dubois penalties to one by Geordan Murphy, who was handed the kicking duties after Tim Stimpson suffered a calf injury on Saturday.

And the Irish international turned the contest Leicester's way after the break when Beziers flanker Angus Gardiner killed the ball and became the third player sent to the bin.

Match facts
Beziers 12
Pens: Dubois (3), Quesada
Yellow card: Ratianadze, Gardiner
Leicester 24
Tries: Smith, Lloyd
Con: Murphy
Pens: Murphy (3)
DG: Kafer
Yellow card: Tuilagi

Murphy punished Gardiner's transgression by levelling the scores at 9-9 with his third penalty and then created a crucial try.

The full-back escaped down the left touchline and produced a clever inside pass to give Smith a straightforward run to the line.

Beziers' replacement goal-kicker Gonzalo Quesada cut the lead to two points with a penalty, but Lloyd's 76th-minute try in the corner - converted by Murphy - put the issue beyond doubt.

And an 84th-minute dropped goal from centre Rod Kafer sealed a victory that Tigers chief Dean Richards admitted he was relieved to have earned.

"We found it difficult to play rugby at times because Beziers were very strong in the set-pieces and we got a hard time in the scrum," he said.

"The players performed well," Richards added.

"Last week's loss to Northampton was more my fault - I got the selection wrong. I'm pleased with the performance today."


Heineken Cup

Parker Pen Cup

EUROPEAN STATISTICS
Links to more European stories are at the foot of the page.


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