Friday 21 July 2017

Warriors deepen Leicester crisis with record rout

Leicester Tigers 0 Glasgow Warriors 43

Glasgow wing Tommy Seymour (r) and Stuart Hogg celebrate. Photo: Getty
Glasgow wing Tommy Seymour (r) and Stuart Hogg celebrate. Photo: Getty

Michael Aylwin

Should we bury Leicester or praise Glasgow? Reasons for astonishment came thick and fast in an extraordinary evening's rugby.

First, let's be positive. Glasgow are into the quarter-finals of Europe for the first time and what an addition they will be. A performance like this against anyone should be lauded to highest but against Leicester, at Welford Road, it is next to astonishing, whatever the state of England's grandest club.

Mark Bennett of Glasgow Warriors scores their third try despite the efforts of Adam Thompstone. Photo: Reuters
Mark Bennett of Glasgow Warriors scores their third try despite the efforts of Adam Thompstone. Photo: Reuters

That state, though, is the most desperate it has ever been. This is their heaviest defeat in Europe, eclipsing the one at Munster before Christmas. They could not muster so much as a point. This is far from the first humiliation they have suffered this season. They suffered one only last week. But they usually summon the pride to bounce back with at least a gritty performance. There was nothing.

Empty seats abounded. The travelling Glasgow fans were easily the more vocal. Leicester look like a club with its heart ripped out. Whether Richard Cockerill will be seen as the last fibre of that spluttering organ time will tell, but whatever is wrong here, evicting Cockerill hasn't fixed it.

Glasgow had the bonus point by half-time. Leicester's heads and flapping tacklers were both spinning for more or less the whole of that first half. We are still not sure about Glasgow's ability to close out the tight ones, as against Munster last week, but there is no need for any of that with Leicester in this sort of form. And one thing we are sure of is Glasgow's ability to play.

They fielded a full XV of Scotland internationals, and this Scotland vintage is the most promising of the century by a distance. This Six Nations is shaping up well, if the form of the Warriors is anything to go by. They came at Leicester from all angles from the off. The Tigers were bewildered.

Glasgow Warriors Tommy Seymour breaks through the tackle of Leicester Tigers Peter Betham to score their first try. Photo: PA
Glasgow Warriors Tommy Seymour breaks through the tackle of Leicester Tigers Peter Betham to score their first try. Photo: PA

Try number one was registered in the sixth minute by Tommy Seymour, after nearly 30 phases of Glasgow precision. Mathew Tait saw yellow at the end of the first quarter for taking out the effervescent Lee Jones after he chipped ahead. By the time Tait returned, Freddie Burns had missed two forlorn penalty attempts and Leicester were 24-0 down. A penalty try had followed immediately after Glasgow kicked the penalty Tait conceded to the corner, and the visitors scored a blinder just before Tait returned.

Forwards and backs offloaded to each other seamlessly as they left Leicester defenders grasping at their wake, and Mark Bennett finished in the corner. Then, when Tait had returned, Glasgow scored their fourth. Jones came in from the blindside from a line-out and put Jonny Gray over.

Perhaps the expected backlash would materialise in the second half, then. No. Ryan Wilson started and finished Glasgow's fifth a few minutes after the restart and Tim Swinson drove over on the hour for a scoreline beyond most teams' wildest dreams, Glasgow's as much as anyone's. But for Leicester this was a nightmare beyond their imagining.

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