Tigers roar to deny London Irish
March 25, 2012
Flood steers Tigers past Exiles%]
Toby Flood turned in a superb individual display as Leicester wrecked London Irish's St. Patrick's Day celebrations with a 41-32 victory at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.
Irish had briefly been on target to record a famous victory when Tom Homer gave them a 32-31 lead with two minutes to go but Flood's final penalty - of a 26-point haul - and a Tom Croft try from the last movement of the game proved heartbreaking for the hosts.
Homer finished with 24 points but could not drag his side across the finish line, with Croft's late intervention bagging a bonus-point for the Tigers while denying one to their hosts.
Leicester are now third in the table but will face an anxious wait over Ben Youngs, with the England scrum-half forced off in the second-half due to an injury. He may also hear from the citing commission after an incident early on, where he appeared to drop a knee on Exiles back-rower Jamie Gibson.
Irish had the first opportunity when Leicester were penalised for dragging down a line-out, but Homer was narrowly wide with his 50 metre attempt. The hosts maintained their bright start though, and the fullback made no mistake with a 35 metre penalty to give his side a fifth minute lead.
The Exiles should have extended that lead when Joe Ansbro broke through the visitors' defence, but the centre selfishly held on to the ball instead of passing and the chance was lost. Dan Bowden dropped a neat goal to gain some reward for Irish but the home side were made to pay for their carelessness when Leicester scored the first try after 23 minutes.
Toby Flood scored 26 points, including a try, against London Irish © Getty Images
Following a succession of five-metre scrums, Flood dummied over for the try but his easy conversion kick was charged down by the onrushing Darren Allinson. The Leicester pack had a period of dominance which enabled them to score a second try. Flood and Thomas Waldrom made inroads into the Irish defence and Julian Salvi drove over from close range for the try, which Flood converted.
Irish hit back with Homer kicking his second penalty before they took the lead in a topsy-turvy first half. From a line-out 45 metres out, Allinson went straight through the middle to set up a try for the supporting Bryn Evans. Homer converted to give Irish a 16-12 interval advantage.
Flood reduced that lead with a 40-metre penalty early in the second-half and when the Irish were a penalised at a scrum, the outside-half was again on target with an excellent 50 metre kick. The lead changed hands almost immediately. Gibson reclaimed the restart for Homer to spot a gap in the Tigers defence and the fullback evaded Marcos Ayerza to score.
Croft was introduced in time to see Flood kick his third penalty to make it 23-21to the hosts going into the final quarter, but Leicester went ahead when Billy Twelvetrees carved a huge hole to send Manu Tuilagi under the posts.
Youngs was then helped off with a leg injury but they overcame this setback to increase their score with Flood's fourth penalty. Three superb 50 metre penalty strikes from Homer appeared to have won the day for Irish but Flood's penalty and Croft's last ditch try ensured an end to any celebrations.
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