Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Tigers ease past holders Gloucester

Toby Flood, Leicester

After three consecutive defeats, Leicester won their first game at Welford Road this season with a convincing 40-14 win over LV= Cup holders Gloucester.

The Tigers were buoyed by the return of most of their players from the World Cup and had little difficulty in dominating the visitors. The Cherry and Whites pack were clearly second best, allowing Toby Flood to control proceedings and collect a match tally of 18 points.

Leicester were quickly into their stride, taking a third-minute lead when Flood kicked a simple 20-metre penalty after Gloucester were penalised for an infringement at a ruck. The visitors soon had a chance to hit back when the Tigers offended at a scrum - but Freddie Burns missed narrowly with a 40-metre penalty attempt.

Both teams appeared totally committed to securing a win in what has not always proved to be the most meaningful of competitions to its entrants. Neither side seemed willing to chance their three-quarters, with both choosing to kick tactically to gain ground.

A huge touchfinder from Flood put the Tigers deep into the opposition 22, the Gloucester scrum then faced a fierce drive from the home pack, a penalty was conceded, and Flood made no mistake with his kick.

After 20 minutes and against the run of play, Gloucester took the lead. From inside his own 22, Flood had his clearance kick charged down by Akapusi Qera and Dan Murphy was on hand to pick up the loose ball and score a try which Burns converted.

Flood soon made amends by kicking a penalty after the visitors' pack were once again penalised at a set scrum. Another similar infringement soon followed with Gloucester prop Rupert Harden being warned by the referee and Flood banged over his fourth penalty from close on halfway.

On the half-hour the Tigers scored their first try. Jonny May carelessly lost possession and Leicester took full advantage as an excellent pass from Flood sent Dan Cole through a gap to enable the prop to run 20 metres to score the try.

Flood converted this score and another from Manu Tuilagi on the stroke of half-time to leave the Tigers with a healthy 26-7 advantage at the interval. Within three minutes of the restart Leicester had another try. This time Tom Youngs was the scorer following forceful running from both Flood and Manu Tuilagi.

Soon afterwards the latter left the field together with Scott Lawson as both suffered blood injuries following a clash of heads. The home side relaxed with the game won, allowing Gloucester a period of pressure from which Lesley Vainikolo reduced the arrears with a disputed try. However, Tuilagi returned from the blood bin and made the break to send Horacio Agulla over for the Tigers' bonus point try two minutes from the end.

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