Martin Crowson's Five Things: If only Leicester Tigers could have finished what they started
Martin Crowson looks back at five key points from the weekend's Heineken Cup rugby action.
1If Leicester Tigers were looking for positives from a defeat in Toulouse that left them kicking themselves, they need look no further than the tactics they employed before the game's only try began the start of their downfall. Tigers had successfully taken a 28,000 crowd completely out of the game and forced the home side into hurried decisions and mistakes, as they were the ones dictating both the speed and style of proceedings. Toby Flood was kicking superbly, and you could tell from the visitors' body language that they felt they were getting on top. After 35 minutes, a losing bonus point looked an absolute bear minimum.
2In the wake of the current long-winded talks to provide a future for the Heineken Cup, if any of the Celtic nations needed reminding of the contribution that the Aviva Premiership sides bring to the European party, they would do well to note that, apart from Tigers' defeat at Toulouse, Exeter's heroic 9-6 reverse against champions Leinster and London Welsh hammering at the hands of Stade Francais, all of the other English sides were winners this weekend.
3Being part of a bar full of Tigers fans in central Toulouse, doing Exeter's 'Tomahawk Chop' song, on Saturday afternoon was one of the most surreal experiences of my time in this job. There was huge support for the Chiefs as they played out their narrow 9-6 defeat by Leinster on televisions around the bar.
4While most of the Tigers squad left the Municipal Stadium with faces like a wet weekend in the south of France, there were numerous performances that warranted more than sadness. Tom Youngs proved he now has the skills and the temperament for big European fixtures, and I would be amazed if he was not at least on the bench for England's opening autumn international. Toby Flood's kicking and game-management was spot-on under pressure, and the likes of Scott Hamilton at full-back and Niall Morris on the wing made consistently good decisions at all the right times.
5And so the Ospreys arrive at Welford Road on Sunday for the next chapter in a European rivalry that has brought us the '16th Man' incident, accusations of eye gouging, arguments between coaches in corridors and the wonderfully high-scoring draw at Welford Road, when Billy Twelvetrees nearly nicked what would have been an astonishing come-from-behind win. There is no reason to suggest anything other than another cracker on the cards this time around.