European Rugby Champions Cup: Leicester 20-23 Racing 92

Virimi Vakatawa and George Ford
George Ford (right) returned to captain Leicester against Racing 92 and kicked 15 of his side's 20 points
European Champions Cup Pool One
Leicester (9) 20
Try: O'Connor Cons: Pens: Ford 5
Racing 92 (14) 23
Tries: Chavancy, Machenaud Cons: Machenaud 2 Pens: Machenaud 3

Racing 92 kicked a late penalty to beat Leicester in their final Champions Cup pool match and qualify for the quarter-finals of the competition.

The Tigers, bottom of their pool and already eliminated, were outplayed in the first half, but stayed in touch through three George Ford penalties.

Brendon O'Connor scored the only try of the second period but Maxime Machenaud won the game with five minutes to play.

Leicester were without centre Manu Tuilagi, who withdrew through injury.

On a snow-covered pitch at Welford Road, Leicester came into the game bottom of their group with just one victory in this season's competition.

Their role was restricted to aiding or thwarting other teams' bids for the quarter-finals, including Saracens.

However, at the front of head coach Matt O'Connor's mind was turning around a run of seven defeats in eight matches, a task his side briefly threatened to achieve, but they were ultimately outdone by a physical and composed French outfit.

Champions Cup quarter-finals line-up
Leinster v Saracens
Scarlets v La Rochelle
Munster v Toulon
Clermont Auvergne v Racing 92
Ties to be played between 29 March-1 April

Racing too strong for weak Tigers

Racing 92
Racing 92's pack dominated the Tigers forwards

Racing 92, beaten finalists in 2016, dominated possession in the first half as Leicester struggled at both the line-out and the scrum.

The French side were far too strong in the pack and Henry Chavancy scored the first try of the afternoon from a driving maul, before Racing put on a squeeze at the scrum for the second.

As the ball popped out, Tigers wing Jonny May failed to ground it in-goal and Machenaud was quickest to react and apply downward pressure.

But, for all Racing's domination, Leicester remained in touch through the boot of captain Ford - his kicking game shining in tricky conditions - and the hosts came alive after the break.

After number eight Leone Nakarawa was penalised for taking out a man in the air, Ford's kick to the corner saw Tigers replicate Racing's first-half power with an effective maul of their own and O'Connor touched down.

Leicester looked as though they could push on, and showed glimpses of attacking rugby, but the game became a battle from the tee with Ford and Machenaud trading penalties.

At 20-20, an accidental offside by Graham Kitchener, who was struck on the back by Ben Youngs' clearing kick, handed Racing a scrum on the 22.

Leicester, struggling under the power of the Racing pack, conceding a 76th-minute penalty which Machenaud kicked.

Leicester turned down the chance of a penalty late on that would have secured a draw in order to go for the win, but Racing held on to record a sixth successive victory.

Leicester: Tait; Malouf, Tuilagi, Toomua, May; G Ford, Youngs; Bateman, Polota-Nau, Cole, Wells, Kitchener, Williams, O'Connor, Kalamafoni.

Replacements: Youngs, Rizzo, Mulipola, Fitzgerald, Mapapalangi, Harrison, J Ford, Thompstone.

Racing 92: Dupichot; Thomas, Vakatawa, Chavancy, Andreu; Tales, Machenaud; Arous, Chat, Tameifuna, Ryan, E Maka, Y Nyanga, W Lauret, L Nakarawa

Replacements: Szarzewski, Kakovin, Gomes Sa, Chouzenoux, Palu, Iribaren, Carter, Dupichot.

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