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Heineken Cup - Champions Lose Battle of Causeway
12 December 2004, 6:22 pm
London Wasps and Leicester Tigers served up a cracker at the Causeway Stadium with Martin Johnson s side eventually emerging 37-31 victors thanks to two late Andrew Goode penalties.
Three games gone in the pool stages of this year s Heineken Cup and on the evidence of what s been seen so far there are four teams - Wasps, Leicester Tigers, Stade Francais and Leinster - who look best equipped to lift the title. Last year s beaten finalists Toulouse looked unimpressive in their opener with Llanelli and lost again in Franklin s Gardens but can t be ruled out of the equation.

On Sunday, London Wasps and Leicester Tigers served up a cracker at the Causeway Stadium with Martin Johnson s side eventually emerging 37-31. It leaves Leicester in the best position in that they have two home games remaining plus an away trip to Calvisano. Next weekend they face Wasps again at Welford Road and that s a game that could settle this pool. It was interesting and somewhat ironic to hear Wasps skipper, Lawrence Dallaglio complain afterwards that, they (Leicester) were killing the ball all day. The old adage of the kettle calling the pot black sprung immediately to mind listening to Dallaglio and it s hard to imagine many people having large dollops of sympathy for Mister D.

Leinster lead pool three and forget about the mediocre quality of their opponents - or in the case of Bourgoin substitute appalling for mediocre - they have a backline that gives them every right to be on the short-list of possible competition winners. It was fortunate for them that when they resumed their campaign after the autumn internationals the opposition that Bourgoin provided was comparable to an AIL side - and not necessarily a Division One side. So Declan Kidney s side had the benefit of a training run to ease their players back into Heineken Cup frame of mind. And the poor impression made by Bath when they were easily turned over by Leinster was further confirmed when the English side were beaten in Italy by Treviso.

Bath will probably scrape past the Italians in the Recreation Ground next week so the expected win for Leinster against the dis-interested Bourgoinese will virtually guarantee them a quarter final place.

Stade Francais could allow themselves the luxury of excusing Augustin Pichot and Juan Hernandez for the visit of Ulster and that confidence was well founded with the still star-studded Parisien side ending 30-10 winners, Ulster s only try coming long after the lights had gone out for them.

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