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Preview: Leicester look to stay in the hunt

Saturday 7th December 2013

12:00 am (GMT)

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Leicester Tigers will look to continue their incredible home record in the Heineken Cup when they host Montpellier

Leicester Tigers will look to continue their incredible home record in the Heineken Cup when they host Montpellier

Leicester Tigers will look to continue their incredible home record in the Heineken Cup when they host Montpellier, with the former champions unbeaten in their last 24 games in the competition at Welford Road.

Richard Cockerill’s side will be looking for a win to keep in touch with Pool 5 leaders Ulster, who secured successive victories in their opening two fixtures.

With Ulster hosting Pool 5 bottom club Benetton Treviso this weekend, Sunday’s clash at Welford Road could go a long way to deciding who remains in the running for the knockout stages.

Leicester are unlikely to have the tie all their own way as Montpellier have won their last three Heineken Cup games against English sides. Cockerill admits the French sides can be unpredictable away from home but insists they will be fully prepared for the visit of the Top 14 outfit.

“It's a difficult one with the French because they can travel to England and not be particularly interested,” said Cockerill. “But then you can go to their place the week after and they will be up for the battle because they're playing at home. They're always a difficult one to read.

“But they are a good squad. Fabien Galthie is a good coach, he knows the game very well and he's got a good squad. They may well come to Welford Road with a fully-loaded team and be up for the battle.

“We will be well prepped. We need to win – we have to win. We've now got to play well enough to do that.”

Leicester go into Sunday’s tie on the back of four straight wins, the most recent of which was a 22-17 triumph at Gloucester on Friday night, while Montpellier have won just one of their four fixtures since losing at home to Ulster in Round 2.

Match Facts

Leicester have won just two of their last seven Heineken Cup games against clubs from France.

Montpellier have won their last three Heineken Cup games against English opponents.

Montpellier made just 146 tackles in their two opening games, fewer than any other side in the tournament.

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Report: Tigers win Welford Road thriller

Sunday 8th December 2013

12:00 am (GMT)

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Le MHR repart avec un point de bonus offensif de Leicester au terme d'un match un peu fou à huit essais (41-32). - 08/12/2013 17:27

Le MHR repart avec un point de bonus offensif de Leicester au terme d'un match un peu fou à huit essais (41-32). - 08/12/2013 17:27

Leicester Tigers kept up the pressure on Pool 5 leaders Ulster with a 41-32 bonus point victory over Montpellier in arguably the most entertaining encounter of the entire European weekend.

The 2001 and 2002 Heineken Cup kings scored four tries but shipped a further four as the French side headed for home with a losing bonus point. And Fabien Galthie’s men came within a few seconds of leaving with a brace of bonus points after the conversion of their final try cut the gap to six with less than a minute remaining.

But replacement fly-half Ryan Lamb landed a last-gasp drop goal to push the gap back out past seven and ensure Montpellier have it all do to if they are to challenge for a second successive quarter-final spot after back-to-back defeats in Rounds 2 and 3.

Leicester raced into a 24-3 lead inside the first quarter of an hour but Montpellier hit back to trail by just six points at the break in another Anglo-French classic.

The Tigers couldn’t have dreamt of a better start as Niki Goneva marked his return from a calf injury with a fine score inside five minutes. The Fijian burst through after taking a deft pop ball from midfield partner Dan Bowden who picked up a bouncing ball quite brilliantly just outside the Montpellier 22.

Flood and Jonathan Pelissie exchanged penalties but Leicester were celebrating their second score after only 11 minutes as Miles Benjamin burst through some weak Montpellier tackling. Graham Kitchener set the platform with a clean lineout take, with Julian Salvi then hitting up in midfield before Ben Youngs went blind and Benjamin powered home.

Things got even better for Richard Cockerill and co as Benjamin raced home for his second try and Leicester’s third after 14 minutes. Heineken Man of the Match Kitchener was again involved, with Toby Flood and Scott Hamilton keeping the move going and Goneva eventually setting the former Worcester flyer free wide on the left. Referee John Lacey called for confirmation from the TMO but the covering Pelissie hadn’t quite done enough to prevent Benjamin from touching down before heading into touch.

With Flood converting all three tries, Leicester were looking home and dry and all set to sew up a bonus point in double quick time. But Montpellier somehow found a foothold and stemmed the tide when Johnnie Beattie’s break allowed Toulon-bound Georgian flanker Mamuka Gorgodze to race clear from just inside the Leicester half with 28 minutes played.

The home side should have claimed the bonus-point try four minutes before the break but Goneva took too long to make the most a huge overlap and eventually threw his pass to Tom Youngs narrowly forward.

And Montpellier made him pay on the stroke of half time as they claimed a second try through patient phase play and Timoci Nagusa’s pace to reduce the deficit to 24-18 at the break. Pelissie had missed the conversion, though, and he was again off target with a penalty attempt three minutes after the restart.

A nervous tension continued to surround Welford Road for the first half of the second period but the mood changed when Gibson battered through from close-range to finally claim the bonus point score just past the hour. The ex-London Irish flanker touched down after impressive offloads from both Thomas Waldrom and Ben Youngs as the majority of the crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Flood failed with the conversion but landed a penalty either side of the fourth try to leave Leicester with a much more comfortable 35-18 advantage with a quarter of an hour remaining.

But Montpellier still refused to give up the fight and crossed for a third try of their own a minute later as Pierre Berard went over for a converted score. That effort reignited their hopes of an upset and they had a fourth score ruled out for a forward pass as things got edgy once again in the East Midlands.

And they did grab a fourth when Berard crossed again with just two minutes remaining. Francois Trinh-Duc’s conversion cut the gap to just six points and ensured they would be leaving with two bonus points but Lamb’s late intervention meant Montpellier had to settle for just one.

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