Leicester fight to stay alive

2015-01-17 08:34
(File, Gallo Images)

London - Leicester Tigers kept their faint European Champions Cup knock-out stage hopes alive with a bonus point 40-23 victory over Scarlets on Friday.

Six tries from Miles Benjamin, Jordan Crane, Adam Thompstone, a Tom Youngs brace and Sam Harrison were just rewards for Leicester's domination at the set-piece.

Scarlets were game throughout and scored tries through Rob Evans and a Harry Robinson brace, but apart from a short period at the end of the first half, when playing with a numerical advantage, they never looked likely to upset the formbook.

Both sides came into the game needing a bonus point victory to stay alive in the competition and Leicester must now win away to Ulster in their final match, or perhaps hope the Irish province upset Pool 3 leaders Toulon in France on Saturday, to potentially reach the quarter-finals.

Scarlets put the first points on the board through Bath-bound flyhalf Rhys Priestland but then Tigers kicked into gear.

Quick ball from scrum-half Ben Youngs, a miss-pass from flyhalf Freddie Burns and a clever flick from right wing Thompstone allowed full-back Mathew Tait to give powerful left wing Benjamin the chance to bulldoze through two stretched tacklers to touch down in the corner.

Leicester showed their intent when they kicked a penalty to the corner rather than going for the posts - the bonus paramount in their thoughts.

And they were rewarded with a catch-and-drive from the line-out forcing Crane over.

However, after that blistering first 20 minutes, the Tigers started to lose their way with dropped passes and a succession of penalties at the breakdown.

Priestland notched his second penalty and then the tide turned dramatically when Leicester lock Graham Kitchener was sin-binned on 32 minutes.

It took Scarlets just 60 seconds to capitalise as they played Leicester at their own game, kicking a penalty to the corner and then driving Evans over from close range.

Having spent the first part of the match chasing shadows, Scarlets turned around at the break trailing just 14-11.

But normal service was resumed once Kitchener returned and Thompstone punished a stretched Welsh backline to canter over.

Burns missed his first conversion of the evening but Tigers were now just one try away from their coveted bonus.

And they earned that on 53 minutes as Tom Youngs, just a minute after replacing Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, popped up with the ball after another catch-and-drive line-out from close range.

Scarlets simply couldn't handle Leicester's power in the set-piece and Ben Youngs teed up his brother Tom for his second try after a break from the back of a ruck.

The Welsh outfit may have been beaten but they weren't bowed and perfectly delayed passes from centres Scott Williams and Regan King put wing Robinson over in the right corner on the hour.

But flanker Aaron Shingler was sin-binned and Italy back-rower Robert Barbieri set up replacement scrum-half Harrison for Leicester's sixth.

Before Shingler returned, Scarlets showed clinical finishing as Robinson was again found in space wide on the right for the ninth and final try of a thrilling match.

Read more on:    rugby


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