A late penalty try was enough to earn Leicester a hard fought 14-13 win over Treviso in Italy on Saturday.
Six days after beating securing a bonus-point win against the same opposition at Welford Road, the Tigers looked to be on their way out of Europe against a brave Benetton side. However, a penalty try in the dying embers of the second half means Richard Cockerill's men will live to fight another day.
Pool Two now looks like a three-way fight, with Ospreys beating Toulouse in the other fixture. The Tigers' final day fixture against the French side is likely to decide their destiny. For Treviso, progression from the group has never really been a realistic goal, but there was much pride to play for having perfumed so well in the reverse fixture, only to come away with nothing. Once again they deserved so much better after an heroic effort.
Alberto Di Bernardo kicked everything that came his way for Franco Smith's men who also managed a penalty try of their own. Adam Thompstone scored a try for the visitors and George Ford chipped in with two conversions.
The torrential rain that fell all week long in northern Italy dictated that this one was always going to be a tight affair. Leicester, however, made light of the difficult conditions and with just 14 minutes played had scored one the best tries likely to be seen anywhere this season.
Thompstone was the eventual beneficiary after a wonderful flowing attack started by Ben Youngs 10 metres from his own line cut the Treviso rearguard to ribbons. Ford angled home the conversion and for a spell it looked like Treviso, as they had done the week before, were about to go into meltdown.
Prop forward Michele Rizzo was yellow carded for stamping and the home defence looked all over the place as Leicester went for the kill. Some poor decision making, however, ensured that Treviso saw out the remaining 10 minutes within shipping any further damage.
And then, restored to full strength, they hit back courtesy of a penalty try awarded after Tigers had sacked a well-organised maul, albeit 12 metres from the chalk. Di Bernardo converted and then added a penalty, whilst at the other end Ford was wide from a central position as the half ended with Leicester trailing 10-7.
Treviso continued where they had left off before the turnaround, Di Bernardo despatching another penalty to extend their advantage. The Tigers, meanwhile, turned down a number of shots at goal as they went in search of another try, but they laboured to break down a well-organised home defence, despite being camped in the Treviso half for long periods.
It seemed, however, as though the pendulum would once again swing when Christian Loamanu was sin-binned midway through the half. Accordingly, the Tigers went for the throat, and with virtually the last throw of the dice forced a penalty try after Treviso collapsed a series of scrums on their own line. Ford converted, and Tigers had got out of jail.
And post-match, Tigers boss Richard Cockerill admitted that he was shocked by the penalty try that was awarded to Treviso. "I don't know if I'll ever see a more bizarre penalty try," Cockerill said. "I have never seen anything like it in the 30 years that I have been involved with rugby. I was just amazed. If that had been awarded for us I would have sat in my chair in embarrassment."
Cockerill saw his side come through the tough test against Treviso thanks to a last minute penalty try and he admitted his team got out of jail. "We're obviously very relieved because we came away with the win," Cockerill said. "You have to congratulate Treviso for the way they played. They made us work exceptionally hard. Conversely, you have to congratulate our players for sticking in there and digging in right until the end.
"Everything went against us really. We scored a really good try in that first half, but somehow we upset the referee and he was against us for a fair bit. You could easily let all those factors get on top of you and throw in the towel. But we didn't, we stuck to our guns, played for the win, and eventually we got it."