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Amazing Tigers Comeback Stuns Stade In Classic

Tuesday 20th December 2005

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 20/12/2005 15:32

- 20/12/2005 15:32

Over 16,000 fans will pack into Welford Road this weekend for one of the most eagerly awaited Heineken Cup matches of the season.

The only thing separating these two sides after four rounds is a try bonus-point that edges the Tigers just in front.

In Round 2, it was the Parisians who triumphed 12-6 in front of nearly 20,000 at Stade Charlety in a tight match dominated by the boot.

The Tigers, who defeated Stade 34-30 in the classic Heineken Cup final of 2001, are flying high in the Guinness Premiership and have fervent support at Welford Road.

Stade’s last visit to mainland Britain ended with a shock 13-8 loss to the Ospreys in Round 1. A similar result will significantly dent their hopes of making the last eight.

Leicester Tigers’ head coach Pat Howard has made just one change to his side to take on Stade Français.

Will Johnson replaces Brett Deacon at blindside flanker, after Deacon picked up a slight hip injury from Sunday’s match at London Irish.

Other injury concerns from the victory in Reading look to have been allayed, with Dan Hipkiss and Shane Jennings – both of whom were forced from the Madejski Stadium pitch through injury – named in the side to face Stade.

It means that the in-form Sam Vesty again starts at full-back, with Geordan Murphy and Leon Lloyd on either wing and Hipkiss partnering Ollie Smith in the centre.

Veteran Austin Healey continues at scrum-half, with Harry Ellis again on the bench, while Andy Goode wears the number 10 shirt.

Graham Rowntree, George Chuter and Julian White make up the front row, while Louis Deacon partners Ben Kay in the second row, with Johnson, Jennings and captain Martin Corry – making his 200th start for the club – making up the pack.

Ellis is joined on the replacements bench by James Buckland, Darren Morris, Leo Cullen, Luke Abraham, Ross Broadfoot and Tom Varndell.

Howard has confirmed that while Hipkiss should take his place, Jennings’s involvement will be subject to a late fitness test.

“Dan is very likely to play,” Howard told www.leicestertigers.com. “Shane will have a late fitness test. He hasn’t trained all week but we’re hopeful. If he can’t play, it would mean Luke Abraham coming in at seven and possibly Brett Deacon coming onto the bench.”

Of the decision to start with Healey at scrum-half ahead of Ellis, Howard said: “I couldn’t give Harry as much time as I would like ahead of this match, but Austin’s been in great form.”

The Tigers head coach knows this game is paramount to his side’s hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the competition, and is aware of the tough test Stade will provide Tigers.

“This is the Heineken Cup and it’s a step up regardless. These are the best teams from the Premiership and the rest of Europe and we know that Stade are going to provide us with a massive test and we are going to have to play at our best.

“There’s every chance we will go out there and score four tries because you go out looking to win. The time to assess your options is around the 60-minute mark but there are so many plots and sub-plots in a match you can’t get too ahead of yourself.

“It will be a physical game but I hope it’s a pretty clean game. Alan Lewis refereed our game against Clermont and we’ve been in contact with him and any issues we raised he had seen already, so I expect him to be the professional he is.”

Howard is keen to record victory over Stade and put his side’s destiny in their own hands, unlike last season.

“I think that when we lost to Biarritz last season people thought we were out but I’m just dealing with one game at a time and the great thing for us at the moment is that everything is in our own hands and we will only have ourselves to blame if it goes wrong.

“Obviously we want to win this pool and Stade are probably saying exactly the same thing so it’s going to be a great game on Sunday. The great thing for us is we are at home and we’ve got some of the best, if not the best, supporters in the world.”

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Amazing Tigers Comeback Stuns Stade In Classic

Tuesday 20th December 2005

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 20/12/2005 15:32

- 20/12/2005 15:32

Leicester Tigers produced one of the great comebacks in Heineken Cup history as they fed off a partisan Welford Road crowd to sore 17 unanswered points to steal another thrilling, last gasp victory.

It looked as though their dreams of winning Pool 3 had come to an abrupt end when Stade’s replacement wing Mirco Bergamasco intercepted an Andy Goode pass to race 60 metres to the posts. David Skrela’s conversion put the French side 10- points clear with 18 minutes left on the clock and there were many who thought that was that.

But the 16,815 faithful packed into another sold-out Welford Road refused to give up on their heroes and slowly, but surely the Tigers roared back into the contest.

Goode transformed from villain to hero as he kicked his fifth penalty and then the England outside half chipped into space inch perfectly for Geordan Murphey to latch on to. The Irish magician raced up to the Stade 22 before released Louis Deacon on a 30-metre dash to the left corner.

If that was enough to bring the crowd to it’s feet, Goode’s touchline conversion to level the scores at 22-22 set them jumping wildly with delight.

Now the improbable seemed possible and the man who hauled the Tigers back from the jaws of defeat at the liberty Stadium against in the Ospreys, centre Dan Hipkiss, was at it again two minutes from time when he rounded off another flowing move with a second thrilling try which Goode converted for a match tally of 19 points.

As for Stade, they were left flabbergasted at their late demise and must now secure maximum points from their home clash with the Ospreys in Round 6 on Friday night to stand any chance of progressing into the last eight.

Meanwhile the Tigers will travel to Clermont Auvergne  knowing that a losing bonus point will be enough for them to win the Pool.




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