Leicester Tigers made it through to their fifth Heineken Cup final on Sunday afternoon after an incredible place-kicking competition saw them emerge victorious over a gallant Cardiff Blues side.

The teams finished level on 26 points apiece after normal time and no scores were forthcoming in the two ten-minute periods of extra-time, so for the first time in the competition's history a semi-final was decided by kicks.

In the end, Martyn Williams, so many times a hero in the red of Wales and for his club, screwed his kick badly wide when the sides were level at 6-6 to hand the initiative to Leicester and Jordan Crane.

Crane cooly stepped up to bring closure to what was a quite incredible game that had everything.

With 15 minutes gone it was Cardiff who held a 3-0 advantage after the ever-reliable Ben Blair slotted over the first penalty of the day.

Either side of Blair's kick, Leicester scrum-half, Julien Dupuy, had looked decidedly shaky, missing two penalties of his own.

However, Dupuy, the hero in the quarter-final win over Toulouse, was to play an integral part in the rest of the match.

On 22 minutes the Tigers hit the front when New Zealander, Scott Hamilton, went over for the opening try after some lovely hands from the hugley impressive Toby Flood. Dupuy settled his nerves with the resulting conversion.

Approaching half-time, Cardiff, now playing without captain Paul Tito (who was forced off with rib damage), moved to within four points of Leicester after a thumping Leigh Halfpenny kick.

Four minutes later, some great work from Martyn Williams resulted in a penalty which Blair took with aplomb.

Within two minutes Dai Young's side had taken a 12-10 lead when Halfpenny, once again, walloped over a better kick than his first successful attempt.

But it was Leicester that went in to the break 13-12 up after Dupuy confidently split the posts.

The second half was only five minutes old when Geordan Murphy went over under the posts to push Richard Cockerill's side 18-12 ahead. Dupuy converted with ease to leave Leicester more than a converted try ahead.

Within the next 13 minutes, Martyn Williams, normally so experienced and reliable at the breakdown, gave away two silly penalties which were gladly converted by the influential Dupuy.

On 74 minutes, and with time running out for the Welsh region, up stepped Jamie Roberts.

His superb try and Blair's conversion moved Cardiff to within seven points of the English side.

Amazingly, a couple of minutes later, some pure Welsh magic resulted in Tom James going over for a most unlikely second try. Blair, rock solid all afternoon, kicked the conversion to leave the sides deadlocked at 26-26.

Extra-time was required but with both sides wary of making any sort of mistake there were no further scores.

The aforementioned Crane was the hero for Leicester who will be bidding to win the Heineken Cup for the third time but in truth it was no way to bring down the curtain on what was one of the most remarkable games ever played in the competition since its inception in 1996.

Spare a thought for Williams who will not have ever envisaged being in such a position.

There were many contenders for man-of-the-match but Tom Croft probably was deserving of the accolade.

As and aside, referee Alain Rolland, was excellent and contributed to a fantastic game, one that will live long in the memory.  

Cardiff Blues: Ben Blair; Leigh Halfpenny; Tom Shanklin, Jamie Roberts, Tom James; Nicky Robinson, Richie Rees; Gethin Jenkins, Gareth Williams, Tauf'au Filise, Bradley Davies, Paul Tito [capt], Maama Molitika, Martyn Williams, Xavier Rush.

Replacements: John Yapp, T Rhys Thomas, Deiniol Jones, Andy Powell, Darren Allinson, Ceri Sweeney, Gareth Thomas.

Leicester: Geordan Murphy [capt]; Scott Hamilton; Dan Hipkiss, Sam Vesty; Johne Murphy; Toby Flood, Julien Dupuy; Marcos Ayerza, George Chuter, Martin Castrogiovanni, Tom Croft, Ben Kay, Craig Newby, Ben Woods, Jordan Crane.

Replacements: Benjamin Kayser, Julian White, Marco Wentzel, Lewis Moody, Harry Ellis, Aaron Mauger, Matt Smith.