Hum­bled Tigers fin­ish bot­tom of their pile

The Rugby Paper - - European Champions Cup - By ROGER PANT­ING

IN THE dead­est of dead rub­bers, Le­ices­ter showed how much the mighty have fallen as the twice win­ners of the Euro­pean Cup crashed to an­other ig­no­min­ious de­feat to leave them rooted to the bot­tom of Pool 4.

The Tigers had cho­sen to rest most of their su­per­stars and their re­place­ments fell well short of what was re­quired to match re­ju­ve­nated Scar­lets in any facet of the game.

Tigers’ head coach, Ge­or­dan Mur­phy, said: “We’ve been on a tough run in the Premier­ship and we needed to steady the ship there so we had no op­tion but to rest cer­tain play­ers.

“I’m re­ally dis­ap­pointed as they won most of the col­li­sions and they were more up for it than us.

“Scar­lets are a qual­ity side, who play a nice style of rugby, but we didn’t have much ball and it wasn’t un­til the last 10-15 min­utes that we man­aged to look po­tent.”

They only looked po­tent be­cause Scar­lets had al­ready de­clared at 33-0 and taken off most of the night’s star per­form­ers.

Two-try Rob Evans, livewire scrum-half, Gareth Davies, and pow­er­house cen­tre, Kieron Fono­tia had de­parted to al­low Tigers to gain a touch of re­spectabil­ity against a side that were them­selves well be­low strength.

Scar­lets had eight back five play­ers miss­ing through in­jury, which forced hooker Ken Owens to play in the back row and they were also miss­ing Rhys Patchell and Jonathan Davies from their back divi­sion. The first quar­ter was fea­ture­less and score­less with the game be­ing con­stantly dis­rupted by a suc­ces­sion of scrums and free kicks.

Hence the crowd be­came in­creas­ingly rest­less with the lack of ac­tion caused by the fussi­ness of French ref­eree Math­ieu Ray­nal who was forced to is­sue a warn­ing to both front rows for re­peated in­fringe­ments.

Le­ices­ter skip­per Matt Toomua’s break was the only high­light of that open­ing pe­riod but the vis­i­tors couldn’t cap­i­talise as a pass from Jonah Holmes went astray with the try-line beck­on­ing.

The game im­proved greatly in the se­cond quar­ter as Scar­lets raised the ante to dom­i­nate and were re­warded with two tries.

First from a line-out on the vis­i­tors 22, Ryan Elias was alert to re­gather a loose line-out and make a telling burst be­fore David Bul­bring and Davies made darts for the line with Rob Evans on hand to drive over.

Ten min­utes later a cou­ple of force­ful runs from Fono­tia put the op­po­si­tion de­fence on the back foot to al­low Davies to send Owens over, with a sim­ple con­ver­sion from Dan Jones giv­ing his side a de­served 12-0 half-time lead.

Within ten min­utes of the restart, the game was up for Tigers as by then they had con­ceded two fur­ther tries. Rob Evans fin­ished off a driv­ing li­ne­out for his se­cond be­fore Fono­tia carved the de­fence apart to give Johnny McNi­choll an easy run-in.

Mike Wil­liams was binned for a no arms tackle be­fore Steff Evans scored Scar­lets’ fifth with late tries for Will Evans and Mike Fitzger­ald mere con­so­la­tion.

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Whole-hearted: Ken Owens dives over to score Scar­lets’ se­cond try

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.