Leinster hold off Tigers
Magners League side go 6-5 ahead in European meetings
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 10/04/11 2:01am
Leinster booked their place in the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup with an impressive 17-10 victory over Leicester in Dublin.
The Magners League side edged 6-5 ahead in meetings of the two European heavyweights thanks to a try from Isa Nacewa and the boot of Jonathan Sexton, who kicked four penalties.
In the end the final scoreline did not do the hosts - who caused havoc to Leicester at line-out team - justice, as a converted try from Rob Hawkins in the 78th minute made it a nervy finish.
However, it was simply a case of too little, too late from the reigning English champions, leaving them to focus now on retaining their domestic crown.
It proved to be another tough night for the Tigers' England internationals at the Aviva Stadium just three weeks after seeing their Grand Slam dreams dashed, with scrum-half Ben Youngs finding it particularly tricky.
His first pass forced Toby Flood to pick it off his boot laces, while it was his poorly hit box kick that led to Leinster breaking the deadlock.
Sexton booted the hosts in front with a fourth-minute penalty but it could have been much more, Brian O'Driscoll having opted to go alone rather than pass out wide when the Tigers were severely stretched in defence.
Having wasted an opportunity at one end O'Driscoll then gifted one at the other, his decision to play a knock-on in an offside position allowing Flood to level the scores almost immediately.
But despite getting hold of plenty of possession, Leicester rarely looked like adding to those three points in the opening 40 minutes.
Leinster, on the other hand, always looked threatening; only Luke Fitzgerald's inability to take a simple pass with the line begging stopped them scoring a try, meaning they were forced to rely on Sexton's boot for points.
The fly-half kicked two further penalties, one of which ping-ponged off both uprights before dropping over the bar, to make it 9-3 at the break.
Having barely threatened with ball in hand in the first half, Leicester then came close to scoring the game's opening try just two minutes into the second.
A turnover led to the ball being worked wide to Alesana Tuilagi who, after running straight over O'Driscoll, looked to have dived in at the left corner.
Sent upstairs, the television official studied several different replays before ruling out the winger's score due to him hitting the touchline just before he managed to grounded the ball.
The decision proved to be the turning point as just seven minutes later Leinster had blown the game wide open with a try of their own.
Nacewa sold not one but two dummies to get free down the left wing and although Horacio Agulla did eventually lay a hand on him, the full-back was able to roll over in the tackle and plant the ball down.
When Sexton succeeded where Flood failed with a long-range penalty, Leinster seemed home and dry with a 14-point lead and time ticking away.
Hooker Dawkins' close-range score, which was converted from out wideby Flood, did mean they had to fight right through to the death to hold off the Tigers, just as they had done in the 2009 final.