Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The Leicester Tigers overcame a 26-8 deficit to fight back at Welford Road against the Ospreys in their opening Heineken Cup match. They earned a 32-32 draw after a pulsating second half comeback.
The injury-ravaged side lost four key players before kick-off and found themselves facing an on form Ospreys side who raced into the lead with tries by Shane Williams and Tommy Bowe. Teenage flyhalf Dan Biggar was faultless with the boot, ending with a personal tally of 22 points.
The Tigers however had a young man named Billy Twelvetrees in their lineup, after he came in as a late replacement. He took his chance with both hands, scoring a try and slotting 9 points with the boot to earn the Man of the Match award, on debut.
Johne Murphy, Lucas Amorosino, and Jeremy Staunton all scored tries, contributing to their four-try bonus point. It was quite a feat considering they were without the likes of Geordan Murphy, Toby Flood, Sam Vesty, Harry Ellis, Matt Smith, and centre pairing Aaron Mauger and Dan Hipkiss.
Leicester coach Richard Cockerill summed up the fighting spirit.
"We had players unavailable and pulling out at the last minute. The attitude to just go out and play and not give up is what this side is about. The spirit of the players today was fantastic.
We pride ourselves on having people who want to play for us and not for the money.
You can buy a team but you can't buy spirit.
Man of the match Twelvetrees, who only found out hed be playing 10 minutes before kick off, described it as a dream come true.
"It is what every boy dreams of, playing in the Heineken Cup for Leicester Tigers who are such a prestigious side. I loved every minute of it," said Twelvetrees.
"He did some good things in pre-season after being on loan at Bedford but everyone has to earn the right to play in the side - he got in by luck and took his chance," said coach Cockerill.