Wednesday 17 January 2018

Tuilagi consigns Leinster to another heavy defeat

Leinster suffered another heavy defeat as they prepared for their first Magners League game of the season with a 37-14 reverse at Welford Road.

Joe Schmidt's side stayed with a full-strength line-up from the English champions until half-time, but fell away after the break as Tigers ran in five tries to their one.

The sides shared two kicks apiece in the opening 10 minutes of the game, with Fergus McFadden settling well. Leinster were then forced to defend a five-metre line-out and, as that broke down, they drove up field for McFadden to put his side ahead for the first time at 9-6.

Leicester ruined a great chance to score the first try of the evening on 18 minutes when Alesana Tuilagi dropped Thomas Waldrom's shin-high pass with the line at his mercy.

Leinster were more clinical at the other end just before the half-hour mark. Fly-half Ian McKinley chipped over Tigers' on-rushing defence and defender Scott Hamilton was completely wrong-footed by a bounce which fell straight into McKinley's grateful hands two metres out. McFadden missed the extras but Leinster led 14-6.

The home side hit straight back as Ben Youngs fed Tuilagi at the back of an advancing pack. Nobody was going to stop the rampaging Samoan from five metres out and Toby Flood cut the deficit to one point with the boot.

But things began to get spicy just before the interval, as a number of scuffles broke out in the Leinster '22'.

From the resulting Tigers penalty, the home side turned down the kick at goal and earned a penalty try as their formidable front eight drove their opposite numbers back 10 metres, forcing them to pop up on them line. Flood then made the half-time score 20-14.

Both sides brought on several substitutes in the opening 20 minutes of the second half and two of Leicester's quickly got on the scoresheet. Flood's beautifully weighted ball found Dan Hipkiss at full pace and he shot under the posts to put his side 27-14 ahead on 45 minutes.

Then Geordan Murphy's angled run created space for Manu Tuilagi to have the easiest of finishes. Leinster hit back in what was turning out to be a cracking game but after Ed O'Donoghue was held up over the line, the visitors knocked-on and the danger averted.

Alesana Tuilagi added his second try of the night after Leinster skipper Stephen Keogh was sent to the sin-bin for foul play on 66 minutes.

LEICESTER -- Murphy (capt) (S Hamilton 57); Hamilton (Manu Tuilagi h/t), Smith (D Hipkiss h/t), Allen (Twelvetrees 60), A Tuilagi; Flood (Staunton 55), Youngs (Grindal 63); Ayerza (Cole h/t), Chuter (Hawkins 57), Castrogiovanni (Stankovich h/t), Green (Slater 59), Skivington, Newby (Armes 64), Woods, Waldrom (Markham 70).

LEINSTER -- Fitzgerald (Madigan 50); Kearney, McFadden, Sheridan, Morris; McKinley (Nacewa 50), Boss; Van der Merwe, Strauss, Shawe (Maguire 50), Hines (Galarza 52), Toner (O'Donoghue 29), Ryan, O'Brien (capt), Keogh (Marshall 57).

Irish Independent

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