Leicester return to winning ways
MATCH REPORT: Leicester Tigers claimed their first Premiership Rugby win under Aaron Mauger as newboy Maxime Mermoz’s late score wrapped up a bonus-point 34-9 win against Gloucester Rugby at Welford Road.
Tigers were without an Premiership Rugby win since December, but Luke Hamilton banished any nerves when he piled over early on to make it 7-0 before Billy Burns pegged them back from the tee.
Brother Freddie Burns restored Tigers seven-point advantage moments later before the hosts’ dominant scrum earned them a penalty try to take them 17-3 ahead.
Owen Williams – on for the injured Burns – knocked over a drop-goal to take the hosts 17 points ahead at the turn.
Gloucester’s Burn cut into Tigers’ lead with two early second-half penalties, but Adam Thompstone capped off an impressive showing with a try, before Mermoz scored the try that ended Tigers winless run in Premiership Rugby and moved them back into the league’s top six.
Some early dominance in the scrum from the Tigers led to their first venture into the Gloucester 22 within the opening five minutes, ending in a try for the home side.
Jack Roberts broke through the line after some neat back play, before Luke Hamilton bundled over with a sharp pick-and-go on the Gloucester try-line to make it 7-0.
Leicester put themselves under immediate pressure from the restart however, as Tom Marshall dropped a high ball, resulting in a penalty at the breakdown for the Cherries, which Billy Burns slotted home to make it 7-3.
The home side continued to dominate possession, and after some sloppy footwork at the breakdown by the visitors, Freddie Burns converted his first penalty to extend their lead to 10-3.
But that would be his last involvement, as a collision with Billy Twelvetrees saw him walk off slightly dazed and replaced by Welshman Williams at stand-off.
Tom Brady was held up over the line thanks to a well-judged chip from Williams and an Ed Slater break.
From the resulting set of scrums on the five-metre line, referee Ian Tempest awarded a penalty try to the Tigers thanks to a number of infringements, with Williams adding the extras to make it 17-3 with 15 minutes of the half remaining.
And the Tigers finished the half in style, as a well-worked move ended with Williams slotting a drop-goal to make it 20-3 to the home side at the break.
Gloucester started the second period with more intensity, and Burns added an early penalty in the 41st minute to reduce the deficit slightly.
And ten minutes later, he added another three points after some sustained pressure in the Tigers half, as tempers began to boil over.
The away side continued to show plenty of attacking intent through an all new front row and the introduction of James Hook, but the counter attacking of Adam Thompstone continued to keep the honest in defence.
And it wasn’t long before that very man sealed the win for the Tigers, collecting the ball from deep frpm an attacking move and hitting a gaping hole to dive over in the corner. Williams then converted out wide to make it 27-9.
Mauger’s men then topped off a comfortable afternoon with a fully deserved bonus point try from new man Mermoz after latching on to a driving maul five metres out to end it at 34-9.
For Leicester Tigers:
Tries: Hamilton, Thompstone, Mermoz, Penalty try
Cons: Burns, Williams 3
Pens: Burns 3
Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Matt Smith, 11 Tom Brady, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jono Kitto, 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Michele Rizzo
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Greg Bateman, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Harry Thacker, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Maxime Mermoz
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Andy Symons, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Salesi Ma'afu, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Callum Braley, 22 James Hook, 23 Matt Scott
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards, Simon McConnell
TMO: Graham Hughes