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Leicester Tigers make sure of place in last eight of European Champions Cup

Published 16/01/2016

Ben Youngs was among the Leicester scorers in the defeat of Benetton Treviso.
Ben Youngs was among the Leicester scorers in the defeat of Benetton Treviso.

Leicester qualified for the European Champions Cup quarter-finals after thrashing Italian minnows Benetton Treviso 47-7 at home.

The Tigers' fifth successive win means they will top Pool Four and they will also be desperate to finish the pool stage in style next Sunday by winning at Stade Francais to boost their chances of a home quarter-final.

The bonus point win puts them on 23 points and the only other time they have started a campaign with five straight victories was in 2001-02 when they won the cup for a second successive season.

Leicester scored seven tries in front of a crowd of 19,076 through Mike Fitzgerald, a penalty try, Vereniki Goneva, Adam Thompstone, Ben Youngs, Freddie Burns, who kicked five conversions, and Laurence Pearce.

Treviso replied through Andrea Pratichetti, while Simone Ferrari was yellow carded.

Leicester, who fielded a strong side for the return match, had the game virtually sewn up by half-time against an Italian side who are bottom of the Guinness PRO12 and without a win in 16 matches in all competitions.

The Tigers, who had beaten Treviso in all their previous nine encounters, rattled up four converted tries and conceded one in a one-sided half to lead 28-7.

Leicester got off to a flier thanks to England centre Manu Tuilagi, who was making his first start for 15 months after a groin injury.

The Samoan put Fitzgerald over with just one minute and 56 seconds on the clock after a fine move down the left wing.

After James Ambrosini missed with a long range penalty, the TMO decided Leicester had been held up after driving over the Treviso line from a line-out.

However, Treviso's joy was short-lived because they conceded a 20th minute penalty try from the resulting scrum.

Treviso had to work hard to keep Leicester out but in the 29th minute the pressure told and Tigers scored their third try, Goneva taking advantage of a kind bounce after Burns had chipped over the visitors' defence.

Treviso hardly set foot in Leicester's half but when they did they took full advantage from a line-out, Pratichetti taking a great pass from lock Filo Paulo to sprint clear of a non-existent Tigers defence.

Leicester got their fourth in the 36th minute after the referee penalised Treviso for an off the ball tackle when Jordan Crane appeared set to score from Ben Youngs' break.

From the line-out prop Logovi'I Mulipola hurtled to the line, and from recycled ball Thompstone forced his way over.

It took Leicester less than four minutes of the second half to score try number five, England scrum-half Ben Youngs sprinting 80 metres after a quickly taken line-out caught Treviso napping. Burns missed the conversion.

Nine minutes later Burns got the sixth with a chip and chase under the posts before adding the conversion to make it 40-7.

With snow falling both sides made a raft of substitutions but Leicester continued to dominate the scrums and Simone Ferrari was sin-binned in the 71st minute after Treviso collapsed another one.

Replacement Pearce got Leicester's seventh try in the 76th minute, converted by Tommy Bell.

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