Wednesday, 5 December 2012

5 more great Heinken Cup moments

Ellis the teen tearaway
28th April 2002
Tigers were rocking, Llanelli were 9-3 up and just before half time had missed a simple chance to go more than a score ahead.  We’d played them twice already and not breached their line in either game; with the weather turning for the worse a 6 point lead was massive.  A scrum penalty to Tigers moved play to a lineout on halfway; the maul was scrappy but off the side burst Graham Rowntree.  His thrust took us to the 22 where Freddie Tuilagi bumped off Stephen Jones and drew in both Llanelli centres as well as half the pack.  Referee Mark McHugh signalled advantage, the chance to close the gap to 9-6, as their 12 got up he gave the ref a plaintiff look but by then it had happened.   Ellis had spotted the gap, when 12 turned his back he struck and burst through the hole, hurdling the pile of bodies.  The full back had him covered, it was close but he would haul him down before he got to the line, great attacking position to roll the forwards over we thought.  But no, Ellis went low and skidded across the turf made greasy with rain, if anything the full back’s attentions gave him the momentum to cross the line.  Back in the game. 

Tuilagi triumphs in Treviso.
9th October 2010.
Maybe not the best one for confidence ahead of our trip to Treviso but this was a classic example of Tigers mental fortitude.  It was the 77th minute and we were staring down the barrel of losing away in Italy.  I was sitting at home on the sofa watching with my mates as we hadn’t bothered to go, too focused on organising our trip to Perpignan and complacent having “done” Treviso the season before.  It was not a happy camp.  The air was blue with swear words that would even make Cockerill blush.  But we had forgotten that Alex Tuilagi was not a man who took defeat lying down.  He was not a man accustomed to losing face and didn’t much fancy starting here.  We were deep in our own half, with not much time left but at least had the ball.  Twelvetrees gets it from a ruck and flings it wide to Tom Croft standing on the 22.  He shimmies forward beating a man before passing to Hipkiss, a simple straightening of the line fixes his man and he gets the ball to Tuilagi.  With the snarl turned up to 11 Tuilagi’s got the whole game in his hands on the half way line.  In my lounge we’re on our feet, going mental.  His man is in front of him and the full back is covering in behind.  He shapes to go left on the outside then powers off to his right towards the posts.  The defence evaporates and he’s charging through for the winning try.  Untouched.   Unmolested.  From their own 22 Tigers have stolen it at the death.  Back in Leicester it’s more relief than joy.  We certainly won’t be complacent this year.

What happened next Dawson?
5th December 2004
Wasps were attacking our end.  We’d been up 22-6, they’d got back to 25 all, we’d been up 31-25, they’d got it back to 31 all and finally we were past 80 minutes and were up 37-31 thanks to an Andy Goode drop goal.  The first 20 minutes had been immense we’d scored three tries and blown them out of the water but they’d clawed it back; Dallaglio was like the Terminator just when you thought you’d finally finished him off he’d come back for more and they were back within sniffing difference of the win.  The ruck was on our left wing about 5 meters out.  It was slow ball but not painfully so.  The crowd behind the posts was baying for Tiger blood, the knot of Tigers fans trying to be the 16th man in the defence.  Dawson was at the base organising his troops for a final push, pointing here pointing there, shouting a lot.   Demanding a penalty from the referee.  Finally he went in for the ball, through the forest of legs in the ruck.  We’re behind the posts and can hardly see a thing, just his head bobbing above the ruck.  Then the whistle blows, he’s knocked it on!  In the forest of legs he’s got caught on a branch.  The Wasps fans are distraught, us Tigers are in Raptures; not only have we won but it’s that pillock Dawson who’s lost it for them!  Happy days in deed.

Even better, on TV the reverse angle showed something rather different; it was Louis Deacon’s hand reaching through that knocked the ball out of Dawson’s grasp and the ref missed it.

Powell’s red card in Cardiff
29th October 2006
Another classic Cardiff moment.  We were sitting in the front row right in front of this one.  The scrum packed down and White powered through their whole scrum to win the penalty.  Tighthead Gary Powell was not a happy bunny.  Out of the blue his head just jerked forward, planting a Glasgow Kiss right on George Chuter’s chin.  I don’t know what he expected to happen next.  Though it’s fair to say it probably wasn’t Julian White laughing in his face.  It was a good belly laugh too, not a wry chuckle, a wolf laugh.  This game ended with Louis Deacon knocking the ball out of the scrum halfs hands and getting away with it too.  You’d almost think it’s a tactic!

Twelvetrees dream debut, Staunton Saves the day
11th October 2009
This match really was remarkable.  Billy Twelvetrees was called into the starting line up just 10 minutes before kickoff to make his debut.  Due to the injuries we were suffering we named 7 forwards and Ben Youngs as the lone back on the bench, Anthony Allen was another thrust in at the last moment to replace Aaron Mauger and when he had to withdraw injured at half time we played the second half with Craig Newby in the centres.  After at one stage being 18 points down Tigers had fought back to be only 7 in arrears as the clock counted down.  Twelvetrees had the ball on the blindside about 25 meters out, he swept past Paul James and inside James Hook, holding off Marty Holah and Shane Williams to set up the ruck 5 meters out.  Youngs’s liberal use of the boot eventually freed the ball and Ayerza carried under the shadow of the posts.  This time quick ball and Youngs found Staunton, brought down by Andrew Bishop’s tackle but not held he sprang to his feet and brushed off the challenge of Mike Phillips to ground the ball.  Draw secured, try bonus point secured.

Read the first Ten here.

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