The Tigers secured an early second-half bonus point to overcome the visitors who put up a compelling defensive display only for the Tigers to put 33 points over them against a measly 12.
An energetic start from both sides opened up the match directly, the French side being the first to cross the white wash, only for it to be disallowed following the consolidation of the TMO.
Stade Francais used their core skills to exploit the East Midlands’s side, a counter-attack reaching substitute Tomas who crossed to give the visitors a 5 point lead. A promising start to an extremely tense game.
The brutality of the game was clear from the off, scrum-half Dupuy injured just 15 minutes in. Another obvious feature of the clash came at the breakdown – Richard Cockerill’s men dominating Parisse’s pack early on.
Fly-half Steyn collected his first points of the game, a thunderous attempt from 54 metres out giving his side an 8-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived as just 5 minutes later, Fijian Vereniki Gonova caught Stade off-guard, his try being finished off deep into the in-goal area with Williams converting his first points of his 50th game for the club.
Patience was key from the Tigers, Centre Matt Smith powering his way over the line after countless phases inside the visitors 22. The conversion drifted into half time, the score line reading 12-8 in the home side’s favour.
Mistakes cost both sides dearly, an unprecedented amount of handling errors seemed to punish the teams at both ends. Attack after attack, unfortunately resulting in error after error.
Debutant Brendon O’Connor ran the ball in just 30 seconds after the kick off, surely a try to remember for him during such a significant game. Williams narrowly missed from out wide, although the score looked promising for Cockerill, his side leading 17-8.
A penalty kick from Williams heightened the lead to 20, however Stade Francais hit back minutes later, Paul Williams finishing off an attractive team try.
England International Ben Youngs used his swift thinking in a tap-and-go try, securing the bonus point for the Tigers, alongside the conversion by Williams to restore the Tigers’ dozen point lead.
Execution was key also, a late kick off from the Top 14 champions didn’t make 10 metres, a ludicrous mistake from such a respected side. The All Pinks did restore their status throughout the game, a number of promising breaks that just weren’t finished.
An outrageous offload from winger Raisuqe released Arias who controversially buried the ball into the corner of the recently extended pitch.
The final moments of the game came from the boot of substitute Seremaia Bai, who concluded the opening match with a conversion taking the final score to 33-20.
A distinctive new style of play from Leicester Tigers, who looked rejuvenated after a encouraging premiership start. Stade Francais were threatening to say the least, a number of chances which needed to be put away.
Stay put for more articles coming up over the weekend, especially the heavyweight match between champions Toulon and Mike Ford’s Bath.
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