Leicester come from behind to earn semi-final berth

Leicester 20 Bath 15

Leicester 20 Bath 15

Julien Dupuy's opportunist try less than 50 seconds from full-time sealed Leicester a dramatic Heineken Cup quarter-final victory over Bath at the Walkers Stadium.

The French scrum-half shaped to feed Sam Vesty for the drop-goal attempt but wheeled away from the base of the Leicester ruck, stole through the fringes and rounded Andrew Higgins to score under the posts.

Leicester will face Toulouse's conquerors Cardiff in the semi-finals at the Millennium Stadium.

The lead changed hands four times in total as Leicester twice fought from behind.

Bath had taken a 10-6 lead shortly after the interval having engineered the one piece of clinical rugby to create a try for Australian replacement Shaune Berne.

Sam Vesty's four penalties nudged the Tigers ahead before Bath pounced on a mistake from Leicester full-back Georden Murphy and Joe Maddock scored.

But the Tigers again refused to roll over. Vesty drew the scores level with another penalty before Dupuy's piece of magic booked the Tigers a place in the semi-finals.

Even that score was fraught with drama. Dupuy had coughed up possession on the edge of the Leicester 22 and extra-time seemed certain as Lee Mears charged clear.

But Mears' attempted off-load fell into Jordan Crane's hands. Leicester built one final attack - and Dupuy snatched his golden chance.

The conversion was missed and Bath raced to restart the game before the clock ticked over to 80 minutes - but they ran out of time.

Three years ago, at the same stage of the competition and in the same stadium, it was Bath who edged an heroic late victory over the then double European champions.

For most of the first hour today there was little indication this game would come near to those levels of drama.

Butch James put the kick-off straight into touch which set the tone for a desperate first half which only came to life in the last 10 minutes after tedious bouts of kick tennis and little rugby.

Leicester's defence was the dominant force and they ruled the breakdown, winning five unanswered turnovers in the opening half hour to snuff out Bath's rare attacking opportunities.

They were helped by the fact Bath, despite having Michael Claassens and James back in tandem at half-back, were ponderous when the situation called for them to be sharp and careless when they needed to be clinical.

Twice James wasted a promising attacking platform when his attempts to stab a grubber kick in behind the Leicester defence were blocked by a Tigers boot.

Vesty kicked the Tigers into a 6-0 lead with two penalties in as many minutes to end an uninspiring first quarter before James shanked an ugly first shot at goal horribly wide.

The game finally came to life 10 minutes before the interval as Bath remained true to their attacking instincts and executed a clinical move for Berne to score.

From clean lineout ball, Shontayne Hape slid inside Vesty's tackle and then drifted wide to tie up Murphy before provided the scoring pass for the Australian, who had only just come on for Alex Crockett.

Bath preserved their narrow lead through to the interval. Abendanon produced a try-saving tackle on Murphy and Maddock was equal to another powerful Alesana Tuilagi surge.

James then extended Bath's advantage to 10-6 early in the second half but the game was far from over.

First it twisted back Leicester's way as their forwards responded decisively, piecing together a series of powerful drives to regain the momentum and Vesty landed two more penalties to nudge the Tigers back into the lead.

But no sooner had they earned than Leicester threw it away.

Mears expanded his diminutive frame enough to charge down Murphy's drop out and after Matt Banahan had stretched for the line, Bath spun the ball wide through Michael Claassens and Berne for Maddock to jink off his wing to score.

James' conversion attempt brushed the far post and stayed out and Leicester came again with Vesty converting a penalty almost immediately after the restart.

With the clock ticking down, Dupuy stepped up with his wheeling, sniping, jinking run to snatch the victory and book a semi-final trip to Cardiff.

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