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Leicester late shows sinks Exiles

25th March 2012 16:56

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Tom Croft scored a try in the final minute to hand Leicester a 41-32 bonus-point win over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.

Tigers were trailing with just two minutes left on the clock when Toby Flood landed his eighth kick of the afternoon to put the visitors in front before Croft's late strike denied Exiles a losing bonus point.

London Irish began the match strongly and Tom Homer took advantage of some early ill-discipline from Leicester's forwards to give his side a 3-0 lead and take has personal points tally to 200 for the season.

Irish's Kiwi fly-half Dan Bowden then got in on the act with a drop-goal from in front of the posts as the home side opted to take the points on offer as reward for their domination of territory and possession in the first quarter of an hour.

Tigers worked their way back into the game though and, such was their domination in the scrum, they twice spurned the opportunity to register three points of their own in favour of another scrum. And the decision was vindicated as the forwards rumbled the set piece to within a few feet of the line, allowing Ben Youngs to feed Toby Flood, who ghosted in between two defenders to score.

The England fly-half was far too relaxed with the conversion though and it was charged down by London Irish to ensure they remained ahead.

Their lead did not last long though as Leicester were straight back on the front foot, the forwards again asserting their dominance, and Julian Salvi had the simple task of touching the ball down for a second try after a typically powerful run from Thomas Waldrom.

Irish were not about to give in though and, after Homer had notched another three points, scrum-half Darren Allinson made a great break from a line-out before offloading to Bryn Evans to gallop over the line and give the Londoners a 16-12 lead at the interval.

Tigers began the second half brighter but after Flood had momentarily given them the lead with two penalties, Homer burst through a couple of arm-tackles and accelerated away to score.

The game was really beginning to open up and, after Flood added another three points, Billy Twelvetrees exploited a gaping hole in the London Irish defence before passing to Manu Tuilagi to stroll over untouched underneath the posts.

Homer continued his excellent form with the boot though, kicking three penalties to Flood's one, to give Irish a one-point lead with less than five minutes remaining.

But Leicester's power at the scrum came to the fore again and, after the pack won another penalty at the set piece, Flood restored their lead.

The home side threw the ball from side to side as the game went into added time in an attempt to snatch victory at the death but, in doing so, they came up with a critical error which allowed replacement Croft to pounce on a loose ball and canter in for the final score.

Croft's try gave the Tigers a bonus point and denied London Irish a losing bonus point of their own, an act which could prove vital in the final Premiership reckoning as Leicester look to cement a top four place and Irish attempt to qualify for Europe.

The scorers:

For London Irish:
Tries: Evans, Homer
Cons: Homer 2
Pens: Homer 5
Drop: Bowden

For Leicester :
Tries: Flood, Salvi, Tuilagi, Croft
Cons: Flood 3
Pens: Flood 5

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Marland Yarde; 13 Jonathan Joseph; 12 Steven Shingler, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Dan Bowden, 9, Darren Allinson, 8 Jamie Gibson. 7 Declan Danaher, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Nick Kennedy (c), 3, Faan Rautenbach, 2 David Paice, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 James Buckland; 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Paulica Ion, 19. Bob Casey, 20. Alex Gray, 21 Ofisa Treviranus, 22 Delon Armitage, 23. Paul Hodgson.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Geordan Murphy (c), 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Scott Hamilton, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 George Skivington, 3 Dan Cole, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Martin Castrogiovanni, 18 Logovi'i Mulipola, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Craig Newby, 21 James Grindal, 22 Anthony Allen, 23 Matt Smith.

Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Dean Richards

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