Ruthless Tigers trounce Treviso
January 23, 2011
Thomas Waldrom celebrates his try for Leicester
© PA Photos
Leicester cruised into the Heineken Cup quarter-finals after carrying out a predictable demolition job on outclassed Treviso, winning 62-15.
The Tigers, needing a try-scoring bonus point to guarantee their progress from Pool 5, achieved that feat by half-time at Welford Road. No.8 Jordan Crane (two), fullback Scott Hamilton and wing Alesana Tuilagi all touched down during the first 40 minutes with fly-half Toby Flood adding three conversions and a penalty.
Treviso, trailing 29-3 and having seen two of their forwards sin-binned, then faced a prolonged damage-limitation exercise as Leicester followed their Aviva Premiership rivals Northampton into the last eight. Crane completed his hat-trick, while flanker Thomas Waldrom and Hamilton also crossed after the break, before late scores by centre Manu Tuilagi and substitute Steve Mafi. There was still time for a third Treviso yellow card when replacement Alberto Sgarbi was cautioned as Flood completed a 17-point haul.
Perpignan's bonus-point win against the Scarlets in France proved enough for them to top the group, meaning Leicester progress as best runners-up and will face an away tie against the second seeds - Northampton, Leinster or Toulouse - in April.
The Tigers will be relieved to have kept alive hopes of a third European title after lifting the trophy in 2001 and 2002, given their failure to beat Perpignan home or away this season. They did not hit top gear against a limited Treviso outfit, but last weekend's victory over the Scarlets in Llanelli had set them up for a last-eight spot, an opportunity Leicester did not spurn.
The Tigers, aiming to book their 10th Heineken Cup quarter-final appearance, made one change following the Scarlets win as England prop Dan Cole started instead of Martin Castrogiovanni. Italian champions Treviso, meanwhile, arrived in the east midlands without a European away victory since they beat Newport Gwent Dragons three years ago.
But they went ahead after just 32 seconds through fly-half Kristopher Burton's drop-goal, giving Leicester an immediate reminder that Treviso did not intend to merely make up the numbers. Flood hauled Leicester level through a ninth-minute penalty and Treviso showed the first sign of cracking when Tigers resorted to their traditional forward power. Referee Romain Poite had no hesitation in sin-binning Treviso prop Lorenzo Cittadini when he tackled Crane from an offside position, and alarm bells were ringing throughout the Italian camp.
Crane claimed a 17th-minute pushover try, and although Flood could not convert, Leicester were up and running, 8-3 in front. Treviso, temporarily a man down, could not cope with escalating Tigers territorial dominance, and they conceded a second try when Crane blasted through in midfield to set up attacking options either side of him.
Hamilton proved the beneficiary, gliding over on an outside angle for a well-worked score that Flood converted, putting Leicester 15-3 in front after 25 minutes.
Treviso just had no answer, and after they lost a second player to the sin-bin - flanker Valerio Bernabo - Leicester's ruthless pack prospered again as Crane lunged over from five metres. Another Flood conversion left Treviso 19 points adrift - and Tigers one try from a bonus point - before a heated exchange involving both packs resulted in Poite warning Louis Deacon and Cittadini.
Leicester now had momentum, and the all-important fourth try was sealed as half-time approached. Treviso could not handle Leicester's array of off-the-ball runners and Alesana Tuilagi touched down, with Flood's conversion taking Tigers 26 points clear at the interval. The one-way traffic continued as Crane added his third touchdown, then Waldrom crossed - Flood converting both tries - before Treviso managed a consolation try by fullback Brendan Williams.
Treviso substitute Tobias Botes added another score for the visitors, but Leicester had long since entered auto-pilot mode, their job emphatically done in terms of qualification which was underlined through further touchdowns from Manu Tuilagi and Mafi.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action