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Tigers boost top-four chances

Published 25/04/2015

Ben Youngs opened the scoring for Leicester, who were booed off at half time
Ben Youngs opened the scoring for Leicester, who were booed off at half time

Leicester Tigers boosted their hopes of a top-four finish with a workmanlike bonus point 38-17 win at home to the Aviva Premiership whipping boys London Welsh, who finished the game with 14 men.

Leicester fought back from a shock 10-7 half time deficit to score 31 points in a one sided second half against the relegated Welsh who had number eight Chris Hala'ufia sent off for a bad tackle and foul play.

Captain Ben Youngs scored Leicester's first try in the third minute and five more followed after the interval from Laurence Pearce (two), Sam Harrison, Jamie Gibson, and Tom Youngs. London Welsh's tries came from Koree Britton and Opeti Fonua.

Leicester, however, left the field at half time to boos and whistles from a section of the Welford Road crowd who were unhappy with a lethargic, error-strewn performance from their team.

It was the first time the Welsh had led at half time in the Premiership this season and, while they did not play well, they fought for everything and scored a well-deserved try in the 38th minute.

It came moments after a male streaker had enlivened proceedings by running across the pitch. He was flattened by a flying tackle from Hala'ufia before being escorted from the ground by two stewards.

Whether that proved a distraction to kicker Chris Elder is a moot point but the winger then missed a relatively easy penalty before the Welsh took the lead with a try after a surging run from Hala'ufia.

Hala'ufia found hooker Britton who dived under the posts, with replacement Will Robinson adding the conversion.

It seemed a lot longer than 35 minutes since Leicester had started the match with a bang, scrum half and captain Ben Youngs sauntering over for an easy try in the fourth minute from a line-out with the Welsh defence having gone missing.

Freddie Burns' conversion made it 7-0 and the crowd sat back and probably expected an avalanche of points against a side already relegated, having gained just one bonus point all season and shipped 869 points before this match..

But the rout never came as Leicester made error after error, particularly at the breakdown, and after Elder had missed a 16th minute penalty he put the visitors on the board with a beauty from a metre inside his own half.

The Exiles' lead did not last long because Leicester, probably after a half time rollicking, scored three minutes after the break, No8 Laurence Pearce getting the touchdown after a rolling maul, the decision coming from the TMO. Burns missed the conversion.

Pearce got his second seven minutes later, finishing off a lovely outside break by Mathew Tait to make it 17-10. Burns hit a post with the conversion attempt.

Things got worse for the Welsh in the 55th minute when Hala'ufia was sent off for a shoulder charge that halted Pearce in his tracks and left him prone on the ground.

After studying replays on the big screen, referee Tim Wigglesworth showed Hala'ufia a yellow card and then changed it to red after he had seen him shove Pearce's head into the ground.

The bonus point try came in the 65th minute after a brilliant counter from full-back Niall Morris. Although hauled down just short of the line, replacement scrum half Harrison dummied before stretching over a pile of bodies to get the touchdown which Burns converted.

Flanker Gibson got the fifth, his strength taking him over in the right corner, which replacement Tommy Bell converted.

With seven minutes left giant replacement Fonua got the Exiles second try from a tap penalty near the line. Robinson converted.

Replacement hooker Tom Youngs scored Leicester's sixth with two seconds left. Bell converted.

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