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London Welsh 5 Leicester Tigers 26

23 Nov 2014
London Welsh 5 Leicester Tigers 26

Two Harry Thacker tries helped Leicester Tigers to a scrappy Aviva Premiership Rugby victory over bottom-side London Welsh at the Kassam Stadium.

The Exiles took a surprise lead against the run of play through Nick Scott, but Thacker’s double gave the visitors a 12-5 lead at half-time with Freddie Burns struggling with the boot.

And Leicester tightened the screw after half-time with Graham Kitchener and Robert Barbieri going over to give the visitors the bonus-point victory they came for.

The Tigers put pressure on the Exiles’ scrum from the off, and were rewarded in the fifth minute when they were awarded a penalty just inside the Welsh half, although Burns’ kick drifted right of the posts.

The home side did not get out of their own half until the 20th minute but sloppy handling from Leicester cost them the start they were after, knocking on several times inside the Welsh 22 during the opening quarter of an hour.

Tigers won another penalty on 17 minutes as the Exiles dragged down the maul near the left touchline, but again Burns’ kick for the posts went wide.

And Welsh, spurred on by the let-off, started to turn the game around when Burns had a low kick of his own charged down, and Lachlan McCaffrey and Nathan Vella took the ball into Leicester’s 22 for the first time in the game.

Tom May’s panicked drop goal attempt missed the target, but from the restart Scott went over on 23 minutes to put the home side into the lead.

It was Seb Jewell first with a great up and under before his perfectly-executed cross-field kick found Scott in the corner, although Gordon Ross could not add the extras from the touchline.

Leicester then turned up the pressure and after Jewell made the mistake – knocking on inside his own 22 – a patient Tigers drive allowed Thacker to go over for his first Aviva Premiership Rugby try after 28 minutes. Burns again missed to keep the scores level at 5-5.

But the Leicester fly-half saved his side conceding another score after 36 minutes as Tommy Bell’s kick was charged down under the posts, getting back well to beat McCaffrey to the loose ball.

And just before half-time Tigers won another kickable penalty which skipper Brad Thorn elected to send into the corner.

The decision was justified as Thacker went over for his second try in the corner after a good lineout drive from the visitors, and Bell took over kicking duties to make it 12-5 at half-time.

Leicester looked to tighten things up after half-time, but Jamie Gibson knocked on in the 49th minute with the try-line at his mercy after a period of Tigers pressure.

Just like the first half all the action was inside Welsh territory, and lock Kitchener crashed over a minute later to extend Leicester’s lead and record the 50th try the Exiles have conceded this season.

London Welsh looked understandably dejected as the game started to slip away, and Leicester began to build the phases as they looked to move out of reach.

And the Tigers wrapped up the bonus point and the game after kicking another penalty into the corner and driving over from the lineout for the third time, replacement Barbieri getting the 63rd minute score.

Welsh looked for a way back, but knock-ons and penalties at the breakdown deep in Leicester territory meant they were resigned to their eighth Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat of the season.

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