Tuilagi brace fires Tigers to victory
September 8, 2012
Tuilagi brace fires Tigers to victory%]
Two tries from in-form centre Manu Tuilagi powered Leicester Tigers to a 34-26 victory over Worcester Warriors at Welford Road.
The hosts scored five tries altogether to notch their second successive bonus point win with the other scores coming from Fiji winger Vereniki Goneva, lock Graham Kitchener and a penalty try. Winger David Lemi and centre Alex Grove scored Worcester's tries with former England fly-half Andy Goode kicking 16 points.
Leicester made four changes from the side which beat London Welsh, while Worcester named the same squad which lost by a point at home to Bath, which meant a return to his former club for Goode, who was sent off in the corresponding fixture last season.
The Tigers made a blistering start and led 14-3 after just 12 minutes thanks to two sensational tries by Tuilagi. The first came with less than two minutes on the clock after Worcester had won a line-up but got turned over in the Leicester 22. England fly-half Toby Flood launched a brilliant counter-attack and, after great work by Tom Youngs and Scott Hamilton, Flood fed Kitchener, whose smart change of direction led to Tuilagi's try in the left corner.
Flood converted and, although Goode pulled three points back with a penalty, Goneva had the crowd on their feet with a remarkable counter-attack from one 22 to the other, which led to Tuilagi's second try.
Flood, who had just missed a simple penalty, kicked the conversion from the right touchline but Worcester hit straight back and, after Goode had been denied a try by Geordan Murphy, he slotted an easy penalty.
Flood kicked a penalty to put Leicester 17-6 ahead, and after Goode saved an almost certain try after a mistake by Grove, he kicked his third penalty in the 29th minute.
Worcester fullback Chris Pennell was sin-binned a minute before half-time for a professional foul but his team survived a ferocious onslaught from Leicester who failed to score from several scrums on the line in the closing moments of the half.
Leicester started the second half like they did the first with a try in under two minutes, this time for Goneva, his sixth in five games. It came after Goode had saved Worcester again with a great tackle on Murphy but after Flood's fabulous cut-out pass, Leicester attacked the line and Goneva barged between two players to touch down.
Worcester caught the mood for sensational tries with one of their own in the 49th minute, winger Lemi finishing off a brilliant 80-metre counter-attack with Goode adding the conversion to make it 22-16.
Manu Tuilagi didn't hang about against Worcester and grabbed two tries by the 12th minute mark © Getty Images
Leicester, however, scored their bonus point try in the 66th minute when referee Andrew Smalling lost patience with Worcester's scrum and went under the posts. Flood kicked the conversion. With nine minutes left, Goode kicked his fourth penalty but Kitchener responded with Leicester's fifth try. Replacement fly-half George Ford missed the conversion.
With the last play of the match, Grove scored Worcester's second try after winning the race to a chip over the top and Goode kicked the conversion.
Leicester director of rugby Cockerill remained concerned that his team aren't yet at their best despite winning their opening two fixtures of the season. "It's a perfect start if you look at the table," he said, "but it was far from perfect performance-wise. But we will take the points. We did some really good things and we are creating a huge amount of opportunities but we also turned the ball over too much.
"We just played ourselves into trouble. It's easily fixed but our mindset needs to be better than that. Every time we recycled the ball properly there were opportunities for us. But we were sloppy at times and put ourselves under pressure and that cost us points. We need to be better than that."
Cockerill's opposite number Richard Hill has had a tough start to the season and seen his team pick up only one point from two matches. Even so he refused to be downbeat after a match in which yellow cards to Chris Pennell and Shaun Perry meant his side had to play a quarter of the match with 14 men.
"It was a huge effort on our part today and I can see something building nicely. We are bitterly disappointed with the loss. The players are already talking about next weekend because the signs are there and things are better than last season. We had the worst possible start being 14-3 down after 12 minutes.
"We had the ball but they scored two great tries. You wouldn't expect to lose tries from that distance and it put us on the back foot. We lost Chris Pennell and Shaun Perry to the sin bin but we showed great character in the way we battled back."
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