Leicester made sure they would be top of Guinness Premiership table going into April as they claimed a 39-18 victory at Worcester.
Leicester made sure they would be top of Guinness Premiership table going into April as they claimed a 39-18 win at Worcester on Saturday.
Toby Flood, preferred to Jonny Wilkinson in Paris last Saturday, booted 24 points, including conversions of Leicester tries by full-back Jeremy Staunton, scrum-half Ben Youngs and substitute James Grindal.
Flood's opposite number Willie Walker kicked six penalties, yet Worcester remain bottom of the table, two points behind Leeds Carnegie and Sale Sharks with just five games left.
Worcester trailed 13-12 at half-time, but that was as close as they got before an organised Leicester outfit pulled clear to edge closer towards the title play-offs.
The reigning league champions are also firmly on course for a home semi-final in mid-May, suggesting another title triumph is well within reach after cruising to biggest league away win of the league season.
Worcester though, must now regroup for a huge Good Friday encounter away to fellow strugglers Sale, knowing their Premiership status is under huge threat.
Promoted as unbeaten National League One winners in 2004, they have retained top-flight status ever since despite finishing no higher than 10th during the past three seasons.
But Warriors boss Mike Ruddock faces an uphill struggle following another indisciplined display that enabled Flood to cash in with six penalties.
Worcester were without their powerful New Zealand centre Sam Tuitupou due to a back injury, so Scotland international Alex Grove partnered Dale Rasmussen in midfield, while former All Blacks wing Rico Gear was a late replacement for Chris Pennell.
Leicester, meanwhile, saw their title bid reinforced by four players returning from Six Nations duty, although injury absentees included Geordan Murphy, Dan Hipkiss, Aaron Mauger and Ben Woods.
Lewis Moody, England captain against France last weekend, led the Tigers in Murphy's absence, but Leicester fell behind after seven minutes when Walker landed an angled penalty.
The Premiership's top points-scorer this season did not require a second invitation after Leicester messed up a lineout, but Tigers eased ahead just six minutes later.
Flood botched a straightforward penalty chance that would have opened Leicester's account, yet Worcester proved powerless to defend a slick move as centre Ben Smith delivered Staunton a scoring pass.
Flood converted and then added a penalty following a long-range Walker strike, but Worcester had no intention of playing second fiddle.
Scrum-half Jonny Arr inspired a threatening attacking display by the Warriors, and had they shown a bit more composure with the final pass then Worcester would have carved out a healthy interval advantage.
Two further Walker penalties inched them 12-10 in front, only for Flood to have the final say of a lively half when he slotted his second penalty after Tigers centre Anthony Allen was high-tackled.
Flood increased Leicester's advantage just two minutes into the second period, and with a strengthening breeze behind them, Tigers sought territorial dominance.
Although another Walker strike – his fifth – gave Worcester hope, Leicester responded by collecting their second try of the game when Youngs made a darting 30-metre run.
The Worcester back-row went absent without leave, allowing Youngs to scorch through a huge gap and take Tigers clear, with Flood adding the conversion.
Flood and Walker exchanged further penalties early in the final quarter, and although Worcester kept plugging away, there was no way back.
Two further Flood penalties underlined Leicester's degree of control, and they finished the game chasing a third try when their New Zealand wing Scott Hamilton almost powered over.
Worcester escaped on that occasion, but Leicester struck with the game's final move when Grindal – on for Youngs – scampered through weak tackling for a score that left the Warriors a demoralised, distant second-best.
Pen: Walker 6
Tries: Staunton, Youngs, Grindal
Con: Flood 3
Pen: Flood 6
Worcester: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Chris Pennell, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Dale Rasmussen, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Willie Walker, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Pat Sanderson (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Adam Black.
Replacements: 16 Callum Black, 17 Jordan Page, 18 Olivier Sourgens, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Chris Cracknell, 21 Louis Silver, 22 Matthew Jones, 23 Rico Gear.
Leicester: 15 Geordan Murphy (c), 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Lewis Moody, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Ben Kay, 4 Geoff Parling, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Mefin Davies, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Dan Cole, 18 Boris Stankovich, 19 Brett Deacon, 20 Craig Newby, 21 James Grindal, 22 Johne Murphy, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.