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It was close, but it was a start

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The Tig has witnessed some claw-biting moments following Leicester Tigers, but it is just possible that a one-point victory over bottom-of-the-table opponents this season is as crucial as any of them.

Some of the games that linger longest in the memory are those agonisingly close affairs where supporters defy science by holding their breath for 80 minutes before letting out a huge sigh of relief as the referee draws things to a close.

Every season brings additions to the list which starts with Tim Stimpson’s legendary kicks against Stade Francais and Llanelli. The Tig recalls Julien Dupuy against Bath, Dan Hipkiss against Saracens in 2010 and Geordan Murphy’s drop goal at Sarries this year, to name just three.

On the other hand, last season saw the incredible last-minute try for Gloucester at Welford Road, and this year we had early defeats confirmed by Exeter and Bath confirmed only with the last kick.

Newcastle away, back in September, might not appear ground-shaking but, looking back, that game was absolutely vital in where we are now, heading towards an eighth Premiership Final in eight years.

Tigers went to Kingston Park on the back of defeat in each of the opening two weeks. Tries by forwards Ed Slater, Julian Salvi and Steve Mafi – and a last-minute turnover by Slater in his own half of the field – edged a nervous side to a 27-26 victory.

In plain stats terms, the result was a narrow win against a side struggling at the foot of the table and who would remain there for the next eight months.

But without it Tigers could have gone through the opening six rounds without a single victory, could have been bottom of the table, and Europe, the play-offs and Twickenham would have seemed very distant. The World Cup guys would have come back into a camp with a different mindset and with the pressure on every decision, every kick and every tackle.

It wasn’t as entertaining as the 83-10 against the same opponents at Welford Road a few years ago, but in its own way that one-point win was equally one of the moments that says everything about being a Tiger.