Im­pres­sive Tigers go back to their ba­sics

The Rugby Paper - - Aviva Premiership - ■ By NICK CAIN

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

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