If all Leicester were relieved to arrive at half-time with just the concession of another Sexton penalty; it was the first time in three years that Leicester failed to score in the first half.
In the week that Tom Youngs announced his retirement, there’s no doubt a few home truths were administered in the home locker room. “We were down 20-0 in the quarter-final against Leinster at home,” Genge said. “If you can’t stand up for it, you’re probably in the wrong business.” A close range maul was resisted by Leinster but Leicester remained patient until the time came for Ford to fire a bad pass at Ashton who continued his hot streak.
Suddenly, Leiceter had momentum on their side. A scrum penalty in front of the posts allowed Ford to close the gap to ten points. Instead, he went around the corner. Leicester were unable to form a maul but they retained possession and the towering Nemani Nadolo was held off after Leinster conceded an offside penalty. Back to the corner they went and another shot from Montoya was retired. Last hope for a contest probably went with it.
The opportunities continued to flow past Leicester as Hanro Liebenberg slipped taking a penalty while only an excellent scramble from Jasper Wiese prevented Potter’s charged kick which resulted in a Leinster try. However, Leinster capitalized on the resulting scrum when Leicester were caught offside, allowing Ross Byrne, replacing a bloodied Sexton, to make it 23-7 from the start.
Leinster’s substitute front-row also turned the page up front, winning a penalty from a five-yard Leicester scrum and sapping any remaining hopes of the home crowd. A late, failed try by replacement hooker Dolly allowed Welford Road to issue a final roar of defiance, but Leinster were home and watered down.
Leicester Tigers: F Steward; C Ashton (F Burns, 67), M Moroni (N Nadolo, 45), G Porter, H Potter; G Ford, B Youngs (R Wigglesworth, 59); E Genge (J Whitcombe, 77), J Montoya (N Dolly, 74), D Cole (J Heyes, 59), O Chessum, C Green (H Wells, 63), H Liebenberg, T Reffell (G Martin, 50) , J Wiese
Leinster: H Keenan; J O’Brien (T O’Brien, 73), G Ringrose, R Henshaw, J Lowe; J Sexton (R Byrne, 63), J Gibson-Park (L McGrath, 71); A Porter (C Healy, 63), R Kelleher (D Sheehan, 46), T Furlong (M Ala’alatoa, 46), R Molony, J Ryan, C Doris, J van der Flier, J Conan (R Ruddock, 71 )
Scoring sequence: 0-3, Sexton pen; 0-8, Van Der Flier try; 0-10, sacristan con; 0-15, Henshaw test; 0-17, Sexton con; 0-20, Sexton pen; 5-20, Ashton tries; 7-20, Ford scam; 7-23, Byrne pen; 12-23, Dolly tries; 14-23, Ford