Impressive Tigers go back to their basics
ELLIS Genge has an abrasive edge that is not earning him too may friends outside Welford Road, but he is top of the props with Tigers fans – especially after his two tries sparked this Leicester bonus point victory to keep them in play-off contention.
Genge’s nose for the line and formidable scrummaging also meant that head coach Matt O’Connor’s second game back at the Leicester helm ended on a much more upbeat note than last weekend’s loss to Bath at Twickenham.
O’Connor’s return to Welford Road after a fouryear absence was notable for a shift of emphasis which saw them attend to the forward basics before they started to add the frills.
It saw the re-emergence of a more ruthless, pragmatic streak, because when they scented that the Newcastle scrum was there for the taking, they duly took it apart, with Genge and Dan Cole doing the demolition work.
If this laid the platform, Ben Youngs was quick to take advantage. The Tigers scrum-half did his chances of making the Lions tour party a power of good with an impressive all-round display. This included a clattering try-saving cover tackle on Vereniki Goneva, which prevented the visitors from taking the lead, with the score locked at 3-3 after a penalty exchange between Freddie Burns and Joel Hodgson.
With two former Tigers legends like Dean Richards and John Wells in charge at Newcastle, the Falcons were not going to roll-over, and a dogged first-half performance saw them trailing 6-3 – after Burns kicked a second penalty – until the wheels came off just before the half-time whistle.
It started with Newcastle losing their own scrum putin, with former England tight-head David Wilson disengaging, and as Leicester battered at the line, Brendon O’Connor almost forced his way over. Genge did drill over and was awarded the try with the clock in the red after a TMO referral.
Burns could not add the extras, but with an 11-3 lead Tigers knew where to attack. Having forced a penalty 5m from the Falcons line they opted for the scrum, and when Wilson was yellowcarded after two collapses the writing was on the wall.
When the third scrum was completed with O’Connor passing from the base, Youngs and Burns created enough space wide out for Telusa Veainu to scoot over, Burns converting to make it 18-3. The Tigers piled on the pressure, and when Tom Youngs and Cole rumbled towards the line, a short pass by Ben Youngs saw Genge crash over.
An all-in fracas followed after Genge tangled with Welch and Ben Sowery, but with no obvious skullduggery no action was taken as Burns converted for a 25-3 Leicester lead.
When Youngs punished slack Newcastle defence with a quick tap-and-go from almost 30 metres out, brushing off three tacklers and riding a fourth for a spectacular solo try nine minutes from time, the Leicester second-half procession was complete.
Now all Matt O’Connor has to do is turn it into a triumphal march, complete with Premiership silverware.
Try scorer: Leicester’s Ben Youngs scores with a fine solo run
Try saver: Vereniki Goneva is tackled by Ben Youngs