With the England football team preparing to play in their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years, LeicesterTigers.com takes the chance to look back at five of Tigers’ most famous last four clashes.
From the European cup to the domestic cup via the Premiership Rugby play-offs, Tigers have been involved in some unforgettable semi-final occasions.
Cardiff Blues v Leicester Tigers
Heineken Cup semi-final
May 3, 2009
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
This European Cup semi-final will forever be remembered for the historic penalty shoot-out that decided an epic clash.
Tigers led 26-12 in the final quarter with tries for Scott Hamilton and Geordan Murphy. But converted scores for Jamie Roberts and Tom James took the game into extra-time and ultimately the first, and so far only, penalty shoot-out in the competition’s history.
Each team was required to nominate five kickers from in front of the posts on the 22. Blair, Julien Dupuy, Nicky Robinson, Sam Vesty, Leigh Halfpenny, Murphy and Ceri Sweeney all converted, before Johne Murphy missed to give the Blues a kick for glory.
However, James kicked wide and after Hamilton, Tom Shanklin, Aaron Mauger , Richie Rees and Craig Newby landed successful efforts, Martyn Williams, the flanker, was wide with his kick.
It allowed Jordan Crane to deliver arguably the most-famous kick in Tigers’ history and send them into their fifth European Cup Final.
Leicester Tigers v Llanelli
Heineken Cup semi-final
April 29, 2002
City Ground, Nottingham
If Crane’s shoot-out decider is the most-famous kick in Tigers’ history then Tim Stimpson’s against Llanelli cannot be far behind.
His last-minute penalty from inside his own half crept over with the help of both crossbar and post to decide an achingly tense European Cup semi-final in Nottingham.
With the angle taken into account, the full-back’s kick must have travelled fully 60 metres to send Tigers supporters into ecstasy.
Leicester had scored the only try of the game through Harry Ellis, but the boot of Stephen Jones kept the Welsh side ahead before Stimpson’s heroics gave his side a 13-12 victory in front of a capacity crowd.
It set up a Final showdown with Munster at the Millennium Stadium and, ultimately, a second Heineken Cup success for the Tigers.
Leicester Tigers v Harlequins
Premiership Rugby semi-final
May 11, 2013
Tigers produced a brilliant second-half performance to ease the disappointment of losing to Harlequins at Twickenham 12 months earlier and set up a Final with near neighbours Northampton Saints.
Tom Croft’s stunning display was at the heart of it. The flanker somehow prevented Danny Care from scoring in the corner in the first-half before he raced home from halfway to score a match-sealing third try for the Tigers in the second period.
Quins led 9-6 when Vereniki Goneva swooped on a turnover to score a crucial try right on half-time that swung the game Tigers’ way.
Niall Morris had a simple finish for the second, Croft powered down the right flank for the third before Morris and Mathew Tait combined for the fourth.
It sent Tigers to a ninth consecutive Premiership Rugby Final, where they secured a 10th top-flight title.
Leicester Tigers v Gloucester
Heineken Cup semi-final
April 21, 2001
Vicarage Road, Watford
Tim Stimpson was his reliable self as Tigers booked a place in a second Heineken Cup Final with a 19-15 victory over Gloucester.
Leon Lloyd scored the only try of the game, though it was not without its controversy.
The Tigers History Book states: “Graham Rowntree’s knock-on allowed Gloucester to counter-attack but when they kicked the ball on, Stimpson broke clear and sent Lloyd over to score with several Gloucester players waiting for the referee to call a scrum against Rowntree.”
The try was converted by Stimpson, who also kicked four penalties, to send Tigers to the Final in Paris and that never-to-be-forgotten victory over Stade Francais.
Leicester Tigers v Wasps
John Player Cup semi-final
April 7, 1979
“A performance without equal in the competition’s admittedly brief history,” is how the Tigers History Book describes Leicester’s 43-7 victory over Wasps in the 1978/79 John Player Cup semi-final.
Played in front of the BBC television cameras, Tigers cut loose to score eight tries on their way to an emphatic victory.
Mick Newton (2), Tim Barnwell (2), Steve Redfern, Dusty Hare, Terry Burwell and Angus Collington were the scorers with Hare adding four conversions and a penalty.
The Tigers History Book noted: “Coming before an audience augmented by television viewers (the performance) boosted Leicester’s image to new heights.”
It set up a Final against Moseley at Twickenham, and the first of the club’s hat-trick of John Player Cup successes.