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Leicester Tigers 28 London Welsh 12 Leicester Tigers 28 London Welsh 12

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Leicester Tigers 28 London Welsh 12

Leicester continued their relentless charge towards an end-of-season play-off place with a 28-12 win against London Welsh thanks largely to the goal-kicking of departing fly-half George Ford.

Ford produced a near-faultless display in the absence of Toby Flood, who is on international duty with England, always keeping Aviva Premiership newboys London Welsh at arm’s length with 13 points.

Adam Thompstone scored a first-half try, with Niall Morris and Dan Bowden touching down for the Tigers after the break, while Gordon Ross scored 12 points for the Exiles.

With Sale winning on Friday night against Exeter, the Exiles desperately needed a win to keep some breathing space at the foot of the table, making a total of nine changes after losing 42-14 to Newport Gwent Dragons in the LV= Cup last weekend.

But despite missing the likes of Dan Cole, Tom Youngs, Geoff Parling and Martin Castrogiovanni from the Leicester pack, who are all away in Six Nations action, the Tigers dominated up front from start to finish.

Ross put Welsh on the board with a third-minute penalty before opposite number Ford kicked Tigers level one minute later and then put Leicester ahead with his second kick at goal on 11, before his 18th-minute penalty struck the post.

Tigers struggled to turn their territorial dominance into points, Welsh hacking clear from one spell deep inside their own 22 as Graham Kitchener tried to power over.

Mathew Tait jinked in from the left wing on 23 minutes but strong tackling from Greg Bateman halted the danger.

On 25 minutes some quick exchanges on the right wing released Thompstone — who skipped past Sonny Parker and touched down for a score which Ford duly converted.

Tigers — looking to secure their fifth successive win — continued to press and a powerful surge from Jordan Crane had to be stopped metres from the line.

A brief excursion into the Tigers half from winger Nick Scott was ended abruptly — Scott found space on the right only to collide with Tait just beyond the ten-metre line.

Excellent hands from Anthony Allen and Matt Smith — celebrating his 100th game — opened space for Tait but his run was halted just inside the 22.

Full-back Tait continued to look for ball in hand, breaking the gainline again with five minutes remaining only to find his path blocked by an impressive Welsh pack.

Welsh struggled to escape their half as the break approached and Ford kicked Tigers further ahead minutes before the whistle.

Tom Arscott had an early chance to narrow the gap but his 42nd-minute penalty was scuffed wide from distance.

A Leicester lineout deep inside the visitors 22 led to a long spell of pressure but fly-half Ford failed to find Tigers’ hands with a loose pass with men over on the left.

With ten minutes gone in the second half some Tigers indiscipline at the breakdown handed the visitors a penalty, which Ross slotted to bring Welsh within ten.

Ross continued the Exiles’ revival minutes later with another close-range penalty, which struck the post on its way over, before adding another three-pointer on the hour.

The hosts struck back immediately, an offload from Smith — one half of the first father-son pair to play 100 games for the Tigers — found Morris for the score which Ford converted.

Tigers nearly crossed again minutes later when Allen picked a great line through the Exiles defence but was brought down ten metres short.

Phil MacKenzie came close soon after when he intercepted a pass just outside his 22 and ran the length of the field only to be brought down metres from the line.

Another long drive on 68 minutes from Welsh came up short as they failed to find a way through a sturdy Tigers defence.

Replacement Rob Lewis broke free on 70 minutes but was pulled down inside the 22, the resulting drive was halted on the line by Tigers with Ford booting clear.

With minutes remaining Tigers had a lineout metres from the line but the resulting maul couldn’t gain ground as the Exiles pulled it down.

Tigers restarted quickly and replacement Bowden slipped between two challenges to cross on the left wing to score.

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