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Euro campaign ends in semi-final defeat

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Leicester Tigers' European dream ended on Sunday with a 19-16 semi-final defeat to Racing 92 at Nottingham's City Ground.

The French Top 14 side led from the third minute of the Champions Cup clash through scrum-half Maxime Machenaud’s close-range try.
 
Dan Carter converted and added a penalty to give the French an early 10-0 lead. But Tigers stayed in the hunt through penalties for Freddie Burns and Owen Williams as they trailed 13-6 at half-time.
 
Williams and Carter continued to trade penalties in the second half, but the decisive blow was struck by Johannes Goosen from wide on the left which put Racing more than a score ahead going into the closing stages.
 
Tigers gave themselves hope with an 89th-minute try for Telusa Veainu, but time was against them and the Parisians held firm to book their place against Saracens in the Final in Lyon.
 
Richard Cockerill named the same 23-man squad that took on Northampton Saints last week. Graham Kitchener started on the occasion of his 100th appearance for the club, while Logovi’i Mulipola, reached the same milestone as a second-half replacement.

The game was still settling down when Joe Rokocoko’s quick-thinking caught Tigers cold at a ruck. The wing darted clear and was stopped by last man Tait in the Leicester 22. Racing flooded forward and with the Tigers defence struggling to realign Machenaud spotted a gap to burrow over from close range. Carter’s conversion gave Racing a 7-0 lead after four minutes.
 
Racing started like a runaway train and threatened again through Rokocoko’s break but Kitchener’s tackle ripped the ball from his possession and won the scrum penalty.
 
It was all Racing in the early stages and they were awarded a penalty on halfway for Tigers going off their feet. Centre Goosen took over kicking duties but was well wide with his effort.
 
Racing continued to control the game and worked an opportunity for Carter to drop at goal, but the former All Blacks fly-half pushed his kick across the posts.
 
Tigers won a scrum penalty on the Racing put-in which allowed Burns to kick them into French territory for the first time. It allowed them to bring Tuilagi into the game and he crashed onto the ball to test Carter’s defence. It brought a first period of possession for the Tigers, who worked a half opening on the left for Mike Fitzgerald but the space was quickly closed out.

However, Racing pounced on a handling error to regain possession on the Leicester 22 and moved the ball quickly to the wide channels. When play came back to the middle, Dom Barrow was pinged for not rolling and Carter landed the penalty to move Racing 10-0 ahead.

Cole appeared to have the better of Eddy Ben Arous at scrum time and won another penalty to give Tigers the chance to return to Racing territory. And this time they came away with their first points, Burns landed a simple penalty as Racing infringed at a breakdown in front of the posts.
 
Tigers had the chance to pressure Racing further when Barrow overturned possession on halfway. However, the move was ended by a handling error just as an overlap appeared to be opening up on the right.
 
A lovely break by Burns from inside his own half put Tigers back on the attack. Ben Youngs chipped ahead and the ball bounced kindly for Veainu, but he was stopped by last-man Brice Dulin on the Racing 22.
 
Tigers had a real foothold in the game but had to readjust their backline after Burns took a knock in his earlier break and he was replaced by Owen Williams. Williams’s first job was to line up a 45m penalty and he landed his kick to leave Leicester 10-6 down two minutes before half-time.
 
However, Tigers conceded a penalty soon after the restart and Carter had a simple kick to send Racing in 13-6 ahead at half-time.
 
Tigers came out of the blocks quickly in the second period. They forced Goosen to knock-on in the tackle and won a penalty at the resulting scrum, which Williams knocked over to cut the deficit to 13-9.
 
A knock-on by Chris Masoe had the ‘home’ crowd on their feet but this time it was Tigers who were whistled at the scrum. The momentum swung back towards Racing and they put Tigers under intense pressure with wave after wave of their huge ball carriers bearing down on the Leicester defence. The visitors inched their way to within 5m of the line where Machenaud was forced into touch as he scampered for the line.
 
However, Racing did come away with points. The Tigers pack was penalised, despite marching Racing back at a scrum, and Carter knocked over the penalty.
 
Tigers rejigged their back row with Tom Croft coming on for Fitzgerald and Ed Slater replacing Fonua.
 
Thacker produced a sensational piece of skill, passing between his legs to move the ball away from the tackle area and set Betham away down the left flank. However, the Racing defence showed why it had conceded just seven tries all competition before kick-off by forcing Goneva into touch 10m out.
 
Handling errors characterised Tigers’ performance and they brought two promising attacks to an end in quick succession. A smart move that saw Youngs come through the lineout ended with Croft knocking on before Tait’s break on the right was halted by another knock-on.
 
Instead, slick Racing handling put Rokocoko in space and his pass sent Goosen over on the right. However, referee Nigel Owens ruled out the try, after consultation with his TMO, for a forward pass at the start of the move.
 
It was an intense battle and Tigers had to withstand another wave of Racing attacks off the back of a lineout on their 22. Lachlan McCaffrey’s jackal won the penalty and when Racing went offside soon after, Williams had kicked Tigers to within 20m of the Parisians’ line.
 
But again Tigers were undone by handling errors and were unable to make the position count. Instead, Croft was pinged for blocking as Veainu fielded a high kick and Goosen’s 45 penalty from the left touchline just had enough on it to put Racing more than a score ahead with six minutes left.
 
Tigers had to throw caution to the wind. And now the passes were sticking, but a knock-on by Juan Imhoff prevented Tuilagi receiving Betham’s pass with space to run into. It looked deliberate to the Tigers fans in the 22,148 crowd but referee Owens gave only a scrum.
 
Tigers did score a consolation try as the clock ticked into the final minute, Betham and Adam Thompstone created space for Veainu to dive over at the right corner. Williams landed a hurried touchline conversion to leave Leicester 19-16 behind.
 
There was still time for the restart, but with the clock ticking into the red Tigers had to run the ball from their own 22. However, they were unable to exit and eventually conceded a penalty in securing ball at a ruck to signal full-time.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 6-13 RAC

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 16-19 RAC

Attendance

22,148

Referee

Nigel Owens

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
16

Full Time

Racing 92
Racing 92
19

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Racing 92
Possession
59%
41%
Territory
58%
42%
Penalties Conceded
10
10
Yellow Cards
0
0
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
90/113 80%
146/166 88%
Scrums Won
10/12 83%
9/11 82%
Lineouts Won
16/16 0%
10/10 0%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Racing 92
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Mathew Tait
14Telusa Veainu1T
13Peter Betham
12Manu Tuilagi
11Vereniki Goneva
10Freddie Burns1P
9Ben Youngs
1Marcos Ayerza
2Harry Thacker
3Dan Cole
4Dom Barrow
5Graham Kitchener
6Michael Fitzgerald
7Lachlan McCaffrey
8Opeti Fonua
16Greg Bateman
17Logovi'i Mulipola
18Fraser Balmain
19Ed Slater
20Tom Croft
21Sam Harrison
22Owen Williams1C2P
23Adam Thompstone

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV

Peter Betham
13
Peter Betham
Vereniki Goneva
11
Vereniki Goneva
Freddie Burns
10
Freddie Burns
Marcos Ayerza
1
Marcos Ayerza
Dom Barrow
4
Dom Barrow
Lachlan McCaffrey
7
Lachlan McCaffrey
Opeti Fonua
8
Opeti Fonua

Subs

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Brice Dulin
14
Joe Rokocoko
13
12
Alexandre Dumoulin
11
Juan Imhoff
10
Dan Carter
9
Maxime Machenaud
1
Eddy Ben Arous
2
Virgile Lacombe
3
Ben Tameifuna
4
Luke Charteris
5
Francois van der Merwe
6
Wenceslas Lauret
7
Bernard Le Roux
8
Chris Masoe

Subs

16
Camille Chat
17
Khatchik Vartanov
18
Luc Ducalcon
19
Manuel Carizza
20
Antonie Claassen
21
Mike Phillips
22
Remi Tales
23
Louis Dupichot
Form Guide
Form
WWLWW
Last Match
Beat Gloucester Rugby 33-26
Past Meeting
Lost 11-34
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WWLWW
Last Match
Beat Saracens 19-15
Past Meeting
Won 34-11