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Goode boots Tigers to victory

08 Jan 2006
Goode boots Tigers to victory

The fly-half booted 23 points from seven penalties and a conversion of full-back Sam Vesty’s 28th-minute try to subdue an Irish outfit high on endeavour, but lacking in execution.

Irish though, could have snatched a draw deep into injury-time at the Madejski Stadium, but a long-range Barry Everitt penalty landed just short of the target.

Leicester remain third in the Premiership, and they had the added bonus of their England scrum-half Harry Ellis returning off the substitutes’ bench for his first appearance since undergoing knee surgery three weeks ago.

Ellis featured for the final 16 minutes, helping Tigers maintain their narrow interval advantage, despite Exiles fly-half Everitt contributing 20 points and former Leicester flanker Paul Gustard scoring a superb 40-metre solo try.

Leicester now adjourn from Premiership matters for two crunch Heineken Cup games against French opponents Stade Francais and Clermont Auvergne as they chase a coveted quarter-final place, but they are well on course for the required top-four domestic finish

Tigers’ solitary away league victory before today came against Leeds in September, but Goode ensured they began 2006 on the road in victorious fashion.

Irish were without 10 first team players after a demanding Christmas programme, including Mike Catt, Darren Edwards and Dominic Feau’nati, but Leicester made just one change following their victory over Saracens last Monday, replacing flanker Will Johnson with Brett Deacon.

Tigers went ahead inside a minute when Irish infringed in front of their own posts and Goode slotted a simple penalty, but the Exiles drew level through an Everitt drop-goal before Goode’s second penalty edged Leicester back in front.

Leicester though, were undone by one of their former players midway through the first-half that culminated a nightmare two-minute spell.

England prop Graham Rowntree was sin-binned for tipping Irish lock Kieran Roche out of a lineout after centre Dan Hipkiss had limped off injured, and his replacement Tom Varndell’s first contribution was to stand off in defence as Exiles flanker Gustard bore down on him.

Gustard’s blistering run ended with him powering over the line, but Leicester – and England wing Varndell, especially – should have prevented the try.

Everitt converted, but Goode narrowed the gap to a point by completing his penalty hat-trick after Irish full-back Michael Horak was yellow-carded for a late challenge on Ben Kay, then Leicester collected their opening try with both sides temporarily reduced to 14 men.

Scrum-half Austin Healey’s probing kick caused panic in the Irish defence, and after Tigers skipper Martin Corry suffocated their efforts at clearing possession, Vesty reacted quickest for a smart score which Goode converted.

Everitt’s second penalty kept Irish in contention at 16-13 adrift, but Goodeconfirmed he was in the zone, slotting a 51-metre penalty to put Leicester six points clear.

And only desperate home defence denied Tigers a sensational length-off-the-field try which was sparked by Goode’s clever kick out of his own 22 and featured strong running from Varndell, Geordan Murphy and Ollie Smith.

But Irish finished the half on top territorially, and Everitt’s second drop-goal made it 19-16 at the break.

Goode’s monotonous accuracy netted two further penalties to one by Everitt as the second period began with referee Dave Pearson’s whistle dominating proceedings.

Irish though, grew increasingly frustrated in the forward battle, and Leicester were able to keep them temporarily at a safe distance through Goode’s prodigious right boot.

A seventh successful Goode penalty suggested Leicester were home and dry with 19 minutes remaining, but an Everitt double during a five-minute spell midway through the closing quarter set up a rousing finale.

Irish wing Topsy Ojo came close with a blistering run to the corner, yet Leicester ultimately survived after Everitt’s late long-range strike dipped agonisingly under the bar.

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