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Tigers power through to Champions Cup semis

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Leicester Tigers booked their place in the European Rugby Champions Cup semi-finals with a 41-13 victory over the defending French champions Stade Francais.

Tigers scored six tries in front of almost 21,000 spectators at Welford Road to secure their passage into the top four of Europe’s elite club competition for the first time since 2009.
 
They got off to a flying start when Freddie Burns’s quick-thinking gave Manu Tuilagi a simple try inside two minutes. Tigers added two tries in quick succession around the half-hour, Vereniki Goneva stepping off the left flank to score before Burns ran in an interception try from halfway.
 
Julien Dupuy, the former Tigers scrum-half, gave Stade hope with a try early in the second half but Tigers killed off the game with three more tries. Goneva scored his second and Tigers’ fourth before turning provider to send Fitzgerald in at the corner.
 
And it was left to Telusa Veainu to score the sixth and final try on a memorable afternoon at Welford Road.
 
Tigers brought back Fitzgerald, Lachlan McCaffrey and Brendon O’Connor into the back row for the club's first European Cup quarter-final at Welford Road since 2007. Mat Tait captained the team from full-back with Veainu coming on to the wing.
 
The Stade side included Dupuy, the scorer of the decisive try the last time Tigers won a European Cup quarter-final against Bath Rugby in 2009.
 
Tigers got off to the perfect start with a try inside two minutes. Stade were enjoying early possession when Rabah Slimani’s pass was picked off by Peter Betham before Djibril Camara misjudged Burns’s grubber and took  the ball into touch 5m out.

Burns was quick onto the ball, passing to Tuilagi before the defence could set and the England international had a free run to score behind the posts. Burns added the extras to complete an excellent start by the Leicester fly-half.
 
However, Tigers infringed at the first scrum allowing Stade to find field position. The hosts then failed to roll from the tackle area, allowing Steyn to put Stade’s first points on the board through a penalty.
 
Steyn missed a second penalty on 11 minutes, again after Tigers failed to roll, the ball came back off a post and Burns found touch on halfway.
 
After their poor start, it was all Stade at this stage and it needed good work on the floor by Fitzgerald to win a penalty against Jonathan Danty on the Tigers 22.
 
Tigers retained possession at the lineout and then won a penalty for offside, which Burns kicked to restore their seven-point lead.
 
Burns was involved in everything in the opening quarter. He pounced on Steyn’s loose pass on the Stade 10m line but Youngs was scragged as he tried to move the ball from the breakdown.
 
Excellent defence by Tigers drove Steyn and then Alexandre Flanquart out of the Leicester 22. O’Connor then piled through to hack the ball ahead but he was whistled for coming in at the side and Steyn landed his second penalty of the contest. Tigers led 10-6 after 24 minutes.
 
Tigers looked threatening with ball in hand, and Goneva was close to reaching Burns’s kick to the left corner with Waisea Nayacalevu scrambling across to cover.
 
And the threat from Tigers' left flank created a second try on 30 minutes. Goneva gave another warning when he stepped off the touchline and past Remi Bonfils to give Tigers front-foot ball. A couple of phases he repeated the trick, latching on to Betham’s flat pass and gliding past Dupuy to score his fifth try of the competition. Burns converted.
 
It got better for the Tigers two minutes later. Burns picked off Steyn’s pass on halfway and had Welford Road roaring him home for Tigers’ third try. Burns converted his own try to give Tigers a 24-6 lead.
 
Graham Kitchener then stole possession at a defensive lineout as Tigers consolidated their position until half-time.
 
Tigers began the second half slowly, and it needed quick-thinking by McCaffrey to mop up a loose ball 5m from his line with Jeremy Sinzelle in hot pursuit.
 
Stade turned the screw at a couple of attacking scrums, and hauled themselves back into the game with a typical opportunist score from Dupuy. There looked little on when he doubled-back towards his forwards but he had spotted a gap in the defence and darted through to score. Steyn converted to leave Leicester 24-13 ahead.
 
Tigers responded immediately to effectively settle the game. Tait’s break took them from their own 22 up to the Stade 10m line, and there it was down to Youngs’s vision. He spotted Goneva in space on the narrow side and the Fiji international outpaced the covering defence to score at the left corner. Burns’s touchline conversion gave Leicester a 31-13 lead.
 
It was end-to-end stuff and Stade threatened again from the restart. However, Geoffrey Doumayrou got in the way of the Tigers defence just as Steyn looked set to score for the visitors.
 
This time Tigers did consolidate their position, led by Betham’s huge hit on Jules Plisson that prevented the replacement fly-half getting an offload away and won a holding-on penalty.
 
And while Tigers looked solid in defence, they always carried a threat in attack. Parisse gave away a silly penalty by playing O’Connor on the floor but Owen Williams, on for Burns, struck a post with his kick.
 
But it did not matter as a stunning counterattack brought Leicester their fifth try of a memorable afternoon. O’Connor broke through tackle after tackle before Betham’s long pass found Goneva in the wide channel and he unselfishly gave Fitzgerald an easy finish at the corner. It took Tigers to a 36-13 lead with 19 minutes remaining.
 
Tigers began to unload the bench, Greg Bateman replaced Thacker and Logovi’i Mulipola came on for Ayerza.
 
And with Stade tiring, Veainu was determined to get in on the act. His midfield break was stopped by last-man Hugo Bonneval but he would not be stopped a moment later. The Tonga international spotted a mismatch with Slimani and angled his run to score at the right-hand corner and extend the lead to 41-13.
 
Williams was wide with a penalty from halfway as Tigers ran down the clock to secure a place in the Champions Cup last four.

And with Racing 92 beating Toulon 19-16 in the day's other quarter-final, it set up a last-four showdown between Tigers and the Paris side at the City Ground, Nottingham on Sunday, April 24 (3.15pm).

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 24-6 STA

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 41-13 STA

Attendance

20,866

Referee

Nigel Owens

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
41

Full Time

Stade Francais
Stade Francais
13

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Stade Francais
Possession
47%
53%
Territory
47%
53%
Penalties Conceded
12
7
Yellow Cards
0
0
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
122/138 88%
89/115 77%
Scrums Won
8/9 89%
11/11 100%
Lineouts Won
8/8 0%
12/12 0%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Stade Francais
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Mathew Tait
14Telusa Veainu1T
13Peter Betham
12Manu Tuilagi1T
11Vereniki Goneva2T
10Freddie Burns1T4C1P
9Ben Youngs
1Marcos Ayerza
2Harry Thacker
3Dan Cole
4Dom Barrow
5Graham Kitchener
6Michael Fitzgerald1T
7Brendon O'Connor
8Lachlan McCaffrey
16Greg Bateman
17Logovi'i Mulipola
18Fraser Balmain
19Sebastian de Chaves
20Tom Croft
21
22Owen Williams
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
8
Lachlan McCaffrey

Subs

Fraser Balmain
18
Fraser Balmain
Sebastian de Chaves
19
Sebastian de Chaves
21
Owen Williams
22
Owen Williams

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Djibril Camara
14
Waisea Nayacalevu
13
Geoffrey Doumayrou
12
Jonathan Danty
11
Jérémy Sinzelle
10
Morne Steyn
9
Julien Dupuy
1
2
Remy Bonfils
3
Rabah Slimani
4
Hugh Pyle
5
Alexandre Flanquart
6
Jono Ross
7
Raphael Lakafia
8
Sergio Parisse

Subs

16
Craig Burden
17
Dany Priso
18
Paul Alo-Emile
19
Paul Gabrillagues
20
Willem Alberts
21
Julien Tomas
22
Jules Plisson
23
Hugo Bonneval
posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
1
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI6501185919424113023
2
Stade Francais
Stade FrancaisSTA64021861186825173019
Form Guide
Form
WWLWW
Last Match
Beat Gloucester Rugby 33-26
Past Meeting
Won 41-13
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
LLLDD
Last Match
Draw with Benetton Rugby null-null
Past Meeting
Lost 13-41

Matchday Live

Leicester Tigers41
Leicester Tigers
Stade Francais13
Stade Francais
Full Time