Resurgent Leicester see off Irish
December 4, 2010
London Irish winger Topsy Ojo scored the game's opening try in Reading
© Getty Images
Leicester roared into second place in the Aviva Premiership after they turned on a powerful performance to record an impressive 23-14 victory over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The win saw the visitors leapfrog the Exiles, although Northampton remain the runaway leaders. Irish had not won any of their four matches in November in all competitions and looked unlikely to end that run of failure as Leicester had them under the cosh by half-time. Indeed, the Tigers controlled the match territorially, as Irish made little impression.
Home fly-half Ryan Lamb had a torrid opening period. He was put under pressure by the Leicester back-row as Irish looked hesitant when they had decent possession but found the Tigers defence impenetrable.
And when Irish gave away penalties, Tigers' fly-half Billy Twelvetrees was in good form. The youngster booted Leicester into a 9-0 lead with three penalties, one of which was from the halfway line.
The only try-scoring opportunity of the half came just after the half-hour when Leicester hooker George Chuter fired an attacking line-out ball over the top for flanker Thomas Waldrom to grab and charge 22 metres to the line. However, Waldrom was called back for a crooked throw and Irish escaped.
Somehow, with the home pack struggling to keep the opposition at bay, Irish went into the break just 9-3 down as Lamb bravely held his nerve with the final chance of the half to land a huge 49-metre penalty.
Irish coach Toby Booth must have had some serious words with his side at the break because they came out with vigour and venom straight afterwards and were soon only a point behind.
Lamb was a different player to the hesitant character of the opening 40 minutes, placing two lovely touch-finders right into the Leicester danger zone. And the ex-Gloucester number 10 was the creator of Irish's first try of the match.
It was a well-crafted move which saw big number eight Chris Hala'ufia charge up the middle before he was dragged down. Excellent home scrum-half Paul Hodgson fed Lamb who chipped over the visiting defence for wing Topsy Ojo, who beat Scott Hamilton's despairing tackle on the line.
The comeback did not last long, however. Leicester upped the pace, attacking the home pack again in the loose and providing the platform for Ireland international fullback and Leicester captain Geordan Murphy to give Waldrom another chance to score which, this time, he accepted.
Twelvetrees' conversion gave Leicester an eight-point buffer but, after another attack from Irish, this time an 11-phase move, the Tigers infringed under their posts, giving Lamb the easiest of penalty shots to reduce the margin.
Irish attacked again as the last 10 minutes approached and were rewarded when number eight Jordan Crane was deemed offside, allowing Lamb to bisect the posts with his third penalty.
But the result was put beyond doubt with two minutes to go when the Irish scrum was put under extreme pressure on their own line.
Three times the Leicester pack, with England stars Chuter and prop Dan Cole solid in the front row, forced their opponents backwards. Referee David Pearson eventually lost patience and ran between the sticks for a penalty try.
The conversion under the posts also finished off London Irish's chances of at least securing a losing bonus point as their losing streak continued and the Tigers marched on.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September