A hat-trick from summer signing Adam Thompstone resoundingly ended Leicester Tigers’ spell of two Aviva Premiership games without a try against Exeter Chiefs and helped his new side to a 30-8 victory.
Leicester topped the try scoring charts last season and Thompstone was brought to Welford Road to soften the blow of losing their top strike runner Alesana Tuilagi to NTT Shining Arcs in Japan.
Coming into the game the Tigers hadn’t scored a try in 166 minutes of action but Thompstone was in no mood to let that run continue and got his club account underway after six minutes.
As well as Thompstone’s two second-half tries, Toby Flood kicked three penalties and three conversions while Exeter only troubled the scorers with a Ignacio Mieres penalty and a try at the death from replacement Ben White.
Thompstone, the former London Irish wing, had fellow new arrival Vereniki Goneva to thank for his first try after the big Fijian burst through the heart of the Chiefs defence from an inside pass from Flood.
From the ensuing ruck when the ball came back Flood spread the play to the right and Thomas Waldrom passed on to Thompstone to run in.
Flood hit a touchline conversion for a 7-3 lead and then took the Tigers into double figures when the Chiefs were penalised for playing the ball on the floor.
Mieres then missed an immediate opportunity to reply from the tee but the hard running of Sireli Naqelevuki and Tom Johnson gave the visitors their first clear sighting of Leicester’s tryline.
Irish international Ian Whitten dummied his way through the Tigers’ defence but was hauled down agonisingly short by Matt Smith.
Mieres should have pegged the Tigers back when Goneva went into a ruck with inadequate support but the Argentine hit the left-hand post from a central position.
Flood was having no such kicking problems and calmly converted a penalty awarded when full-back Niall Morris was floored by Chiefs hooker Chris Whitehead following an up-and-under.
The Tigers were hungry for something more before half-time, the Chiefs desperate to resist, but on 39 minutes they gave away a penalty for hands in the ruck and Flood cleanly struck his fourth goal kick for a 16-3 lead.
Exeter shot themselves in the foot at the beginning of the second half when Mieres dropped a pass from his scrum-half Haydn Thomas right on his own tryline.
Waldrom then tackled the fly-half as he tried to recover the ball and when Jason Shoemark also failed to clean up, Flood hacked the ball into the arms of Smith who passed it down the line for Thompstone to jog in his second and Flood converted.
The Chiefs were determined to make amends, no one more than Mieres, and when the Tigers worked another opportunity for Logovi’i Mulipola, the fly-half chased him down and bundled the 19-stone prop just out of play.
But it was not long before Thompstone made up for it when collecting Smith’s kick through and ran in under the posts unopposed.
Flood converted but a fourth try, and a bonus point, proved elusive for the Tigers and the Chiefs sneaked in at the end from half a yard out when White went over for a consolation score.