Tigers opened their European campaign with a defeat to Ulster at Ravenhill. The final score of 22-16 meant Tigers left the province with a potentially valuable Losing Bonus Point. With Montpellier winning without a Try Bonus in Treviso that could be the point that wins the group.
But. But but but. That attitude is fine in the wash afterwards but at the time to meekly take the loss as "good enough" is simply not the Tigers Way. We'd have never beaten the Ospreys away in 2006 with that attitude. We got a home quarter final that year. We have now had only 1 in the last 7 seasons. Coincidence?
To get a home quarterfinal you need 5 wins, most years. To tamely surrender the chance of a vital away win is so so disappointing. It is no way to act if you are truly trying to win the competition and it disrespects the fans that spent their hard earned money to follow the side.
If you don't know what happened yet an Owen Williams penalty had just got Tigers back within a try of the win. We got a penalty with the clock ticking into the red. And we waited. And we kicked it out, to end the game. Accepted we couldn't beat Ulster. Gave up.
Its not that a Losing Bonus Point is a bad result, indeed it is our best from three trips there, but Ulster aren't some unbeatable colossus. Northampton won there last season. So could we.
It had started so brightly for the visitors, a great spell of possession and territory deep in the Ulster 22 was finished off when Dan Bowden's exquisite long pass was collected by a rampaging Logovi'i Mulipola who stormed over the opening try. Flood converted for a 7-0 lead.
Matters were leveled after a quarter of an hour when Ulster took a page from the Pat Howard play book scoring from a pinpoint cross kick by Paddy Jackosn. Tommy Bowe, ever the Tigers nemesis, out leaped fellow Irishman Niall Morris for an immaculate reception. The ginger magician Jackson slotted the conversion.
Flood put the Tigers ahead after a lineout drive was pulled down but two Jackson penalties saw Ulster in the lead 13-10 at half time.
The crucial moment in the game came shortly after half time. Tigers had started the second half like they had the first. Terrific ball retention and trademark phase play had driven the Tigers up to the 5m line. Tom Youngs then spotted the overlap in the ragged Ulster defence. But Paddy Jackson's interception stopped the move dead.
He raced the length to rapturous applause but Poite had spotted he was offside. On the replay all could see not only was he offside but at no point had he ever got back on side. This begs the question of what about the yellow card or the penalty try?
There can be no doubt that if Jackson's cheating had not occurred a try would have been scored.
So this crucial moment that could have made the score 20-10 or 13-17 instead ended up with the scores level.
What made the lack of yellow card even more galling was Poite's decision to sin bin Jordan Crane some 15 minutes later. The crowd was now riled up after Poite disallowed another try, this time for an obvious forward pass, and Poite was feeling the heat from the fantastically vociferous partisan crowd.
Crane's legs tangled with Pienaar's as he rolled away. It was not a cynical move, and scarcely deliberate but the crowd, as a Welford Road one would, roared away in disgust anyway. Poite under severe pressure produced the yellow card.
It was the tipping point as Tigers lost the period 6-0 and this was when Ulster really got away from us. The second penalty was from a scrum on our own put in. Missing Jordan Crane and with Deacon just replaced by Kitchener the 7 man Tigers pack was bolstered by Miles Benjamin. I'm fairly certain this is not a role Benjamin has ever filed before; why? Well he proceeded to pack down with his shoulder on the lock rather than on the prop, like an utility number 8.
Even when back to 15 Tigers were now unable to stem the tide of the Ulster attack. Wave after wave crashed down on the Leicester defence but they held firm, just. The win seemed inevitable when a final crowd inspired penalty from Poite was slotted by Jackson.
With Owen Williams now on for a disheveled Flood and Mele long on for an out of sorts Ben Youngs Tigers attacked again looking for the losing bonus point at least, at most as it turned out. From a lineout Williams tried an ambitious 40 yard drop goal which just drifted to kiss the wrong side of the upright.
An offside in front of the posts but well away from any danger handed Tigers the chance to get within 7 and Williams continued his 100% record from the kicking tee in Tigers colours.
Then the disappointing admission of defeat as a final chance was spurned.