Planet Rugby

Leicester add to Leeds' woes

01st March 2008 16:57

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Ian Humphreys goes over for a Tigers try

Try Time: Ian Humphreys goes over for a try

Leicester survived an early scare to run out convincing 34-21 winners in the Guinness Premiership against Leeds on Saturday.

Leeds, rooted to the bottom of the table, raced into an early thirteen-point lead, but were unable to build on it as Leicester secured a bonus-point win.

The game marked the return of Harry Ellis, who had been out of action since rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the Premiership semi-final win over Bristol last May before coming on a as substitute in the 59th minute.

By that time Leicester were in the driving seat after overturning a 13-point deficit thanks to scores from Jordan Crane, Tom Varndell and Johne Murphy as well as a penalty try.

Ian Humphreys added another try late on as Leicester closed the gap on Gloucester at the top of the Premiership.

Tom Croft and Geordan Murphy returned for the Tigers after international duty but the struggling visitors stunned the home crowd by scoring the opening try of the afternoon after just 56 seconds.

Winning turnover ball straight from the kick-off, Leeds went through half a dozen phases before Fosi Pala'amo powered over with Alberto Di Bernardo adding the extras.

And incredibly Leeds stretched their lead on 15 minutes with a Di Bernardo penalty, who then made it 13-0 with a drop goal to stunned silence at a packed Welford Road.

Leicester needed to score quickly to kill any anxiety and they did just that on 23 minutes when Crane finished off an trademark Leicester push-over try from a five metre scrum.

The Tigers pulled back to within a point of the visitors just two minutes later. Flying winger Varndell intercepted a Leeds pass on his own 22 and went round Leeds full-back Leigh Hinton as if he was not there.

Humphreys, making a rare start, made amends for a missed conversion with a penalty on 32 minutes to put Leicester ahead at 15-13.

But after Leeds winger Apo Satala had been sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Varndell, Humphreys bombed a clear overlap in the final move of the half.

Tigers began to really assert some pressure up front after the interval and that resulted in a penalty try six minutes into the second half as Leeds' scrum collapsed under intense pressure.

Di Bernardo nudged Leeds back into it with his second penalty of the game but Leicester stretched their lead to 27-16 on 53 minutes as Murphy's right-wing finish secured a bonus point in the process.

The home crowd saved their biggest cheer of the day for the return of Ellis as a 59th minute replacement.

But the game's best moment came when Humphreys jinked past six would-be tacklers to score Leicester's fifth try with seven minutes left.

Jonny Hepworth scored with 30 seconds remaining but once again Leeds were left empty-handed.

For Leicester:

Tries: Crane, Varndell, Penalty, J Murphy, Humphreys

Cons: Humphreys 3

Pen: Humphreys

For Leeds:

Tries: Pala'amo, Hepworth

Con: Di Bernardo

Pens: Di Bernardo 2

Drop goal: Di Bernardo

Yellow Card: Satala (Leeds - 39)

Leicester Tigers: 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Ollie Smith, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Ben Herring, 6 Brett Deacon, 5 Tom Croft, 4 Louis Deacon (c), 3 Julian White, 2 Mefin Davies, 1 Boris Stankovich

Replacements: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Martin Castrogiovanni, 18 Martin Corry, 19 Ben Pienaar, 20 Harry Ellis, 21 Andy Goode, 22 Alesana Tuilagi

Leeds: 15 Leigh Hinton, 14 John Holtby, 13 Jonny Hepworth, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Apo Satala, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Joe Bedford (c), 8 Adam Balding, 7 Hendre Fourie, 6 Kearnan Myall, 5 Pablo Bouza, 4 Erik Lund, 3 Fosi Pala'amo, 2 Rob Rawlinson, 1 Mike MacDonald

Replacements: 16 Adam Hopcroft, 17 Vili Ma'asi, 18 Danny Paul, 19 Mark Lock, 20 James Brooks, 21 Lee Blackett, 22 Rob Vickerman

Referee: Ashley Rowden

Touch judges: Peter Huckle, Andy Watson

Assessor: Brian Leigh

Television match official: Matt Peters

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