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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 26 May, 2018

Munster's European rivals Leicester open campaign in style with bonus-point win

The Tigers were in imperious form at Welford Road.

Ben Youngs scored one of four Leicester tries.
Ben Youngs scored one of four Leicester tries.

FORMER WINNERS LEICESTER Tigers got their European Champions Cup campaign off to the perfect start with a bonus point 33-20 victory over Stade Francais on Friday night.

Welford Road was rocking as Leicester ran in four tries through Fiji wing Vereniki Goneva, centre Matt Smith, New Zealander back-row Brendon O’Connor and scrum-half Ben Youngs to put the French champions to the sword.

Stade struck first through replacement scrum-half Julien Tomas while Samoa centre Paul Williams and wing Julien Arias also crossed the whitewash but the Parisians were well beaten in the Pool 4 clash.

The game was 15 minutes old when Leicester crossed the whitewash through Australian Peter Betham but it was disallowed for a block from prop Marcos Ayerza on South African fly-half Morne Steyn.

And Stade made the most of their let-off as Tomas finished off a great attacking move on 23 minutes that started on their own 10-metre line.

After Arias got clear down the right wing, the ball was worked inside to Hugo Bonneval, who was hauled down just short of the line by Mathew Tait but he kept the ball alive and Tomas scooped it up before diving over.

Steyn missed the conversion but knocked over a penalty to open up an 8-0 lead.

Leicester got back into it after Kiwi O’Connor scavenged breakdown ball and allowed Aussie Lachlan McCaffrey to feed Goneva, who turned Arias inside out before touching down in the corner on 33 minutes.

Owen Williams’s conversion made it a one-point game.

The Tigers were in the ascendancy and they struck again just before the break as they worked the ball wide and, one-on-one, Smith proved too powerful for Arias.

Williams missed the conversion but the hosts deservedly led 12-8 at the break after making more than twice as many yards and half the number of tackles as the French champions, who managed a paltry 37 percent of possession.

Leicester Tigers v Stade Francais - Champions Cup - Pool Four - Welford Road Owen Williams is tackled by Stade Francais' Sylvain Nicolas. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Right from the second half kick-off, Leicester continued their assault as Stade No.8 Sergio Parisse uncharacteristically fumbled a high ball and O’Connor picked up the loose ball before running 40 yards down the line to score in the corner.

Referee John Lacey consulted the video referee as wing Adam Thompstone appeared to have impeded Steyn’s ability to tackle O’Connor, but the score stood.

Shortly afterwards, Williams, who had missed the conversion, notched a simple penalty.
Stade did not fold, though, and a beautiful offload from Parisse to Sylvain Nicolas, who then popped the ball up while being tackled, allowed Williams to dive over.

Steyn’s conversion made it 20-15 but almost immediately, Youngs’s quick thinking saw him take Stade by surprise with a tap penalty to score the crucial fourth try and secure a bonus point.

Leicester then camped down in French territory for 15 minutes with only another Williams penalty to show for their efforts before a rapier attack from Stade saw Fijian Josaia Raisuqe feed Arias to dive over in the corner.

Leicester had the last word, though, as replacement fly-half Seremaia Bai scored a last gasp penalty.

(C) AFP 2015

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