Leicester Tigers’ dreams of a third Heineken Cup title remain alive after an impressive win over Leinster at Lansdowne Road in front of 48,500 fans.

It was Leinster’s first loss in this season’s tournament but it ends their involvement as the Tigers look ahead to a mouth-watering semi-final against French heavyweights Toulouse.

Tries in either half to centres Ollie Smith and Daryl Gibson provided the killer blows for a Leicester side who were always in control.

Leicester backrower Martin Corry made an early charge to impress Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward, and the visitors opened the scoring with a penalty goal from Andy Goode.

Leinster fly-half David Holwell levelled the scores with a penalty goal of his own after a sustained period of attack on the English club’s try-line, before Leicester’s Irishman Geordan Murphy went within inches of a try after a weaving run.

Martin Johnson scorned several penalty-goal chances as Leicester tried for a five-pointer, but the England legend decided to take the three points as the first half began to run out. Goode obliged, before opposite number Holwell hit the upright with his attempt.

In the final minute of the half, Smith broke the game apart with a superb try down the right-hand touchline, and worse was to come for Leinster.

Backrower Ciaran Potts was yellow-carded for a professional foul, and Goode’s penalty goal gave the Tigers an invaluable 16-3 lead at the break.

Tigers winger Leon Lloyd was lucky to escape a yellow card for taking out Leinster star Brian O’Driscoll late, but the home side did narrow the margin when Holwell converted the ensuing penalty.

But the next kick-off virtually ended Leinster’s hopes of a shock comeback.
Tigers backrower Lewis Moody secured the kick and slipped the ball to Gibson, who powered his way over for a match-winning try.

Goode added his fourth penalty goal and a superbly taken dropped goal as Leinster conceded defeat.

There was enough time for impressive Leinster winger Shane Horgan to crash through the Tigers defence to score near the posts, but it was too little and it came far too late.