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Ospreys out to rein in Tigers

Thursday 10th January 2013

12:00 am (GMT)

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The Ospreys will still be reeling from their failure to make the last eight of the Heineken Cup after their 15-15 draw to the Leicester Tigers was not enough to keep them in the tournament. - 18/01/2013 07:30

The Ospreys will still be reeling from their failure to make the last eight of the Heineken Cup after their 15-15 draw to the Leicester Tigers was not enough to keep them in the tournament. - 18/01/2013 07:30

The Ospreys need to beat former double champions Leicester Tigers at the Liberty Stadium to keep their ambitions of a Heineken Cup quarter-final place alive for another weekend.

The reigning Pro12 champions are third in Pool 2 and are four points behind Toulouse in second place and five points behind leaders Leicester as they enter the final two rounds of the Pool stages.

The Welsh side, who have failed to reach the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup for the last two seasons, will be looking to fly the flag for Wales in the last eight of this season’s tournament.

But the Ospreys, who came through the festive period unbeaten, know if the do not beat Leicester Tigers they will have blown their chances of a place in the knock-out stages of the competition.

The Welsh side will be full of confidence when they recorded the shock of the tournament in the last round of games, with their 17-6 victory over four-time champions Toulouse with Eli Walker a constant threat.

The Tigers, who won the Heineken Cup in 2001 and 2002, will be determined to knock the Ospreys out and put some light between themselves and Toulouse for the final weekend of the Pool stages.

The English side will also know that they have more than a decent record against the Ospreys, having comfortably beaten them 39-22 in the first meeting between the sides in this Pool.

Leicester are very much in the driving seat, in this three-way battle for a quarter-final place, and have only lost two of the seven meetings with the Ospreys in the Heineken Cup.

Match Facts

  • Ospreys have lost just one of their last four Heineken Cup matches against Leicester (W2 D1) but four of the seven meetings between the two have gone the Tigers’ way.
  • Despite their modest tackling success rate (85%), the Welsh side have won the joint-most turnovers in the competition alongside Ulster (11 per game).
  • Ospreys have nine wins, 10 losses and have drawn once against English opposition. Four of those defeats have come in their last four outings against English teams.
  • Leicester are currently enjoying a three-match winning streak, during which they have averaged 29 points scored per game.
  • Geordan Murphy, who has made more appearances in Europe for the Tigers than any other player, is vying for his 75th Heineken Cup outing for Leicester.

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It’s Tigers v Toulouse for the spoils

Sunday 13th January 2013

12:00 am (GMT)

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It’s Tigers v Toulouse for the spoils

Ben Youngs powers over for Leicester Tigers' second try in their 15-15 draw with Ospreys in the 2012-13 Champions Cup

Leicester Tigers kept their Heineken Cup hopes alive with a hard-fought 15-15 draw at the Liberty Stadium – but the result knocked the Ospreys out and with them went the last hope of Welsh interest in the knock-out stages.

The English club appeared on course to clinch four points after staging a second-half comeback with tries from Niall Morris and Ben Youngs.

But the Ospreys, who had led for much of the game thanks to Joe Bearman’s score, had other ideas and they salvaged a share of the points as Jonathan Spratt dived over at the death.

The draw sees the Ospreys bow out of Europe while next week’s clash between Leicester and Toulouse will decide the outcome of Pool Two.

Following a lively start the Ospreys had the opportunity to open the scoring on nine minutes, after winning a penalty at the first scrum of the match, but Biggar struck the left upright.

The Ospreys fly-half was agonisingly off-target twice more before kicking the scoreboard into action on 28 minutes, following a sustained period of pressure.

Tandy’s men continued to turn the screw and they stretched their lead to 10-points shortly after the hour mark as Bearman cantered over.

Fotuali’I and Tipuric combined to create the opening and the flanker found Ryan Bevington on the left.

The dynamic prop was unable to feed Richard Fussell but the ball was moved inside for Bearman to charge over.

Biggar added the extras before Flood responded with the Tigers’ first points to bring the score to 10-3 at the interval.

Both teams threatened in a fiercely competitive return to play and the Ospreys almost added a second try.

Richard Fussell danced his way out of danger and launched a count-attack. He combined with Eli Walker, who chipped through and outpaced Niall Morris but was beaten by the bounce of the ball.

Following a scoreless 27 minutes the Tigers hit-back to level the scores. Toby Flood laid the foundations and Youngs sniped over from the base of the ruck.

Flood slotted the conversion to level the scores and within five minutes the visitors surged in front.

The Ospreys held their own at the scrum but the pressure eventually told and Morris dived over in the corner.

Flood missed the ensuing conversion but the try had handed the visitors a five-point lead with seven minutes to spare.

But the thrilling encounter was far from over and an electric break from Walker handed the Ospreys a lifeline.

The red-hot wing failed to find support but the ball was quickly recycled and Fotuali’I sent Spratt diving over.

Biggar had the chance to boot the Ospreys into the lead but he pushed his effort narrowly wide as the two sides settled for a draw.

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