Tigers get title defence back on track
November 18, 2012
Leicester's George Ford evades the London Irish defence at Welford Road © Getty Images
Holders Leicester fought off a ferocious fightback by London Irish to record a 22-15 win and get their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign back on track at Welford Road on Sunday.
Trailing 19-8 with 11 minutes left, Irish threw everything at Leicester who were down to 14 men and scored their second try of the afternoon to reduce the deficit to four points. But Leicester kept their cool, fought their way upfield and young fly-half George Ford sealed victory with his fifth penalty of the game, taking his tally to 17 points. Leicester's victory keeps alive their hopes of retaining the cup after losing their opening game at Saracens. Their only try came from lock Rob Andrew, while Irish scored two through Anthony Watson and Tom Homer, with fly-half Ian Humphreys kicking a penalty and a conversion.
Prop prospect Simon McIntyre grabbed an opportunist try to help Wasps sink Worcester 28-19 and open their account in the competition. The 21-year-old former England U18 player, who scored his first Wasps try in October's 10-6 win over Worcester in the Aviva Premiership, notched his second as they bounced back from last weekend's 22-17 away defeat by Cardiff Blues.
Winger Jack Wallace and replacement scrum-half Charlie Davies scored the other Wasps tries with third-choice fly-half Tommy Bell contributing 13 points with a five-from-five goalkicking display. Worcester replied with tries from centre Alex Grove, right wing Andy Short and replacement left wing Ben Howard, with fly-half Joe Carlisle landing two conversions.
Wing Tonderai Chavhanga scored only the third-ever hat-trick of tries for Newport Gwent Dragons but it was not enough to prevent his side's second defeat in this season's competition against Northampton who claimed a 30-20 win at Rodney Parade. Stand-off Ryan Lamb booted 20 points as the Saints turned on the style after the interval to overturn a 10-6 half-time deficit. Flanker Phil Dowson and wing Jamie Elliott got the visitors' tries.
Gloucester dispatched fellow Aviva Premiership side London Welsh 46-20 at Kingsholm on Saturday. England No.8 Ben Morgan bagged a hat-trick with Gloucester crossing for six tries in total. And they stormed ahead in the first-half with Shane Monahan and Akapusi Qera both scoring alongside a double from Morgan. Fly-half Freddie Burns also slotted four conversions and two penalties to put Gloucester 34-6 up at the break. London Welsh rallied in the second 40 and grabbed two tries of their own - through Nick Scott and James Tideswell - but a further score from Morgan and one from young hooker Koree Britton was enough to give Gloucester an easy win.
And Morgan was delighted to secure a trio of scores. "It was my first professional hat-trick," he said. "It was a real physical test for us and they competed right to the end scoring some late tries. It shows the strength in depth of our squad. In previous performances there have been dips in our game: we were better today but there's still a long way to go."
Elsewhere on Saturday, the Exeter Chiefs downed the Ospreys 23-13 at Sandy Park to record their second win in as many games. It was the away side who took an early lead thanks to Morgan Allen's try with Sam Davies adding the extras from the tee. But young lock Will Carrick-Smith struck back for the hosts and Henry Slade's, who also nudged over an earlier penalty, conversion put the home side in front. Davies struck back for the Ospreys but Myles Dorrian's try on the stroke of half-time meant that Exeter went into the break 17-10 to the good. Slade nudged over two more penalties in the second 40 while Ospreys' half-back Davies added three points meaning it was the home side who emerged victorious.
The Scarlets and the Cardiff Blues were also in action on Saturday at the Parc Y Scarlets and it was the home side who emerged victorious thanks to a 22-16 victory. Blues flanker Luke Hamilton, who was later sin-binned, put the away side in front thanks to a 15th minute try and alongside Gareth Davies' conversion and a pair of penalties, the Blues stormed into a 13-3 lead after 30 minutes. But the Scarlets forced their way to a penalty try and along with the boot of Gareth Owen and Liam Williams, it was all-square at half-time. And despite Davies' 43rd minute putting the Blues in front, it was the Scarlets who did enough to get over the line with Aled Thomas' trio of penalties bringing up their 22-point total.
And on Friday, the Sale Sharks secured a tight 25-23 victory over Saracens after a late penalty from replacement Rob Miller at the Salford City Stadium. Tries by Kameli Ratuvou and Joel Tomkins to go alongside 10 points from the boot of Nils Mordt gave Sarries a 20-12 half-time advantage, with Sale's response before the interval coming through Mark Cueto's score and a penalty try.
A Fraser McKenzie touchdown and a Danny Cipriani penalty took the Sharks into the lead before Ben Spencer's three-pointer edged the visitors ahead again, but Miller slotted a late penalty to earn the victory for the hosts. "It looked like the game was slipping away from us at half-time. But fair play, we injected a bit of youth and enthusiasm, and we managed to get back into the game after the break," commented Sharks boss Steve Diamond.
Fly-half Ben Botica only played the first half but his 15 points set Aviva Premiership leaders Harlequins on the way to their second victory in the competition with a 21-12 triumph over Bath. The 23-year-old son of former Wigan and Castleford rugby league star Frano Botica kicked five penalties from five attempts for Quins, 31-30 winners at Northampton last weekend. Botica's teenage replacement Louis Grimoldby added two second-half penalties to kill off a fightback by Bath, who had been comprehensively outplayed in the first period.
Former All Blacks fly-half Stephen Donald kicked three penalties for the visitors, with his replacement Tom Heathcote kicking one. But their cause was not helped by the sin-binning of prop Anthony Perinese in the first half and replacement hooker Brett Sharman in the second. "You can't coach bottle," said Quins director of rugby Conor O'Shea. "I couldn't be prouder of that performance."
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