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 Saturday, 14 December, 2002, 17:53 GMT
Tigers demolish Beziers
Geordan Murphy takes on the Beziers defence
Murphy (right) turned in a dazzling display
Leicester 53-10 Beziers

Defending champions Leicester virtually guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup as they put French visitors Beziers to the sword at Welford Road.

The last time the Tigers were at home they surrended their long unbeaten Zurich Premiership record to Northampton, but they were never in any danger of losing two in a row.

Despite the greasy conditions the Tigers played some flowing rugby and they produced tries from Freddie Tuilagi (3), Louis Deacon, Dorian West, Rod Kafer, Geordan Murphy and Sam Vestey.

Murphy kicked the rest of the points while the Beziers points came from the boot of Gonzalo Quesada and a Vano Nadiradze try.

Austin Healey is held up by the Beziers defence
Healey mixed the sublime with the ridiculous

Healey drilled a long-range drop goal wide inside the first 30 seconds and Quesada was similarly unsuccessful two minutes later for the visitors.

The mercurial Healey has been short of form this season and he failed to find touch with a couple of early penalities before Murphy got the Tigers on the board with a simple attempt after 12 minutes.

The Argentine kicking machine Quesada levelled the scores soon after but Leicester immediately went over for the first try of the game.

Balding won the re-start and, after sucking in the Beziers forwards, the hosts spun the ball wide.

Match details
Leicester 53
Tries: Tuilagi 3, Deacon, West, Kafer, Murphy, Vesty
Cons: Murphy 5
Pen: Murphy
Beziers 10
Try: Nadiradze
Con: Quesada
Pen: Quesada

Centre Ollie Smith's pass went to ground but Tuiliagi hacked on and muscled the Beziers defence out of the way to claim the try.

Leicester's powerful eight was beginning to get the upper hand on the Beziers' pack, who were more than a stone-a-man lighter, and they grabbed their second try after 27 minutes.

The Tigers had just been denied a try in the corner after one flowing move, with Murphy and Tuilagi to the fore, and when the ball was kicked back to Murphy the Leicester full-back cut the Beziers defence to shreds.

He was held up just short but Leicester worked the ball out to the wing and Deacon lumbered over unopposed to make it 15-3.

We had an injury crisis in the backs but now we have got players like Geordan Murphy, Austin Healey and Leon Lloyd back and the backs are starting to fire again

Leicester boss
Dean Richards

West then filled the Neil Back role as the Tigers' eight rumbled over from a trademark rolling maul and although Murphy missed both conversions the home side already had the game in the bag.

Beziers nearly scored when Jean-Philippe Grandclaude latched onto a dropped pass and raced clear but Healey hunted him down five yards short of the line.

Tuilagi stretched the hosts' lead seven minutes into the second half when the Samoan went over untouched after Leicester turned the ball over in midfield.

Murphy's conversion made it 27-3 and he added the extras again after Kafer dummied and cut through to score under the posts.

It was a very difficult game for us especially after the first 15 minutes when Leicester moved the ball all over the pitch

Beziers coach
Eric Piazza

From then on it was just a question of how many more tries Leicester would score.

The Georgian Nadiradze ploughed over for Beziers' try, with Quesada converting, but Murphy raced over and converted his own try to halt any thoughts of a fight back.

Tuilagi bagged his hat-trick with five minutes to go after another searing break from man-of-the-match Murphy.

And Vestey was handed a try on a plate by Kafer, Murphy converting, as the two-time champions showed the rest of Europe they are still the team to beat.

Leicester: Murphy, Lloyd, Smith, Kafer, Tuilagi, Healey, Tierney, Rowntree, West, Tournaire, M. Johnson, Deacon, Corry, W. Johnson, Balding.
Replacements: Short, Chuter, Garforth, Kay, Ellis, Booth, Vesty.

Beziers: Bonetti, Laharague, Aue, Grandclaude, Desjardin, Quesada, Mignoni, Pedesseau, Selua, Bonorino, Ghezal, Nadiradze, Castel, Martinez, Mounier.
Replacements: Swarzewski, Ciore, S. Chobet, Gommard, Nyan, Durand, J. Dubois.

Referee: Nigel Williams (Wales).

 BBC Five Live's Ed Marriage
"Beziers were desperately disappointing"
 Leicester coach Dean Richards
"The boys have played well today"

Heineken Cup

Parker Pen Cup

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