Draw dents Tigers' hopes
Perpignan snatched a dramatic and well-earned draw in the last minute at Welford Road to throw Pool Five wide open.
Last Updated: 19/12/10 5:34pm
Perpignan snatched a dramatic and well-earned draw in the last minute at Welford Road to throw Heineken Cup Pool Five wide open.
Just three points separate the top three sides and with Leicester still having to travel to pool leaders Scarlets, this result probably favours Perpignan, who look to have the easier final two games of the three.
The Tigers had led 13-6 with a try from Alesana Tuilagi late in the first half but they failed to kill off Perpignan - Billy Twelvetrees missed four penalties - and ultimately paid the price.
Despite being reduced to 14 men with lock Rimas Alvarez Kairelis in the sin-bin, Perpignan hit back with a try from scrum-half David Mele and sealed the draw with a late penalty from fly-half Nicolas Laharrague.
That was probably a fair result, although the disappointment writ large on the Leicester players' faces at the final whistle told its own story.
The Tigers were beaten 24-19 in southern France last week and were hit by a late selection blow, as Twelvetrees came in for England international Toby Flood, who has suffered an adductor injury.
Laharrague missed with an early drop-goal effort but landed the second to edge Perpignan into the lead, before the howitzer-boot of Twelvetrees drew Leicester level with a penalty from inside his own half.
The two fly-halves each missed a shot at goal before exchanging further penalties, with Leicester earning theirs after an impressive burst from Twelvetrees - the first clean break of the match - followed by some intense pressure at the breakdown.
With the hosts beginning to get on top, Youngs cut through the Perpignan defence and popped his pass up for Geordan Murphy.
The Tigers full-back was eventually hauled to the ground but Leicester's breakdown work earned them another close-range penalty.
This time Alesana Tuilagi took the tap penalty and there was no stopping the giant Samoan wing, who charged through two defenders to score from five metres out.
Leicester could not defend their advantage and conceded a penalty on the stroke of half-time after a late hit from Steve Mafi on David Marty.
The Tigers thought they had a scrum for a forward pass in the Perpignan 22 but referee Peter Fitzgibbon pulled play all the way back and Laharrague slotted the kick.
Perpignan then took the lead immediately after the interval with a try from Mele, who stole down the unprotected blindside after a strong scrum from the visitors.
Mele finished the try brilliantly, grounding the ball one-handed in the corner just before the out-of-position Scott Hamilton bundled him into touch.
The Tigers hit back with two penalties in quick succession from Twelvetrees, both awarded for Perpignan defenders not rolling away.
Laharrague drew the scores level once again but Leicester resumed their supremacy in the scrum.
Another destructive shove from the Leicester eight inside the Perpignan 22 earned the Tigers the penalty and Twelvetrees nudged them back into the lead.
But the normally reliable Twelvetrees missed two more penalty chances and Laharrague punished them with his late penalty strike.
Leicester had one last chance to win the game after securing a turnover from the restart, but Murphy's pass drifted into touch to end a frustrating day for the English champions.