JP Pietersen’s first-half try double inspired Leicester Tigers to an eight-try 50-17 Aviva Premiership Rugby win over Bristol Rugby in a blistering attacking performance at Welford Road.
Tigers went into the fixture buoyed by a bonus-point win over Gloucester Rugby at home last time out and Aaron Mauger’s charges were in a ruthless mood in the first period.
Talismanic full-back Jason Woodward kicked an early penalty for Bristol, but Pat Cilliers bumped his way over for a near-immediate response and from then on Tigers were rampant.
First, JP Pietersen collected Owen Williams’ cross-kick for a converted score, before Telusa Veainu lit up the game with a glorious linebreak and score and South African winger Pietersen sealed the bonus-point by finishing a length of the field move just shy of half an hour.
Bristol replied on 40 minutes through ex-Leicester man Rob Hawkins, but Mauger’s men led 31-10 at the turn and extended their lead further when No 8 Brendon O’Connor scored from a charged down kick eight minutes into the half.
Adam Thompstone crossed for the seventh eight minutes later before Greg Bateman added number eight meaning Tigers sealed their sixth win in seven Aviva Premiership Rugby games at Welford Road, with their second consecutive bonus-point win edging them closer to Bath Rugby and the top four.
— Bristol Rugby (@Bristol_RFC) February 18, 2017
Woodward, so influential since joining up with the Ashton Gate side, kicked Bristol’s first points after seven minutes while Gaston Cortes laid down an early marker in the scrum.
Opposite man Cilliers though, crossed for the game’s opening try, breaking after patient work from the Tigers pack and shrugging off an attempted tackler to cross on 12 minutes, with Williams converting to take the hosts 7-3 ahead.
Stand-off Williams then showed his strength to muscle through the Bristol midfield and over the line for Tigers’ second score four minutes later.
Williams was to the fore again eight minutes later, firing a crosskick in the direction of returning Springbok winger Pietersen and after ricocheting, it fell neatly into his path to touch down for his second Aviva Premiership Rugby try.
Mauger’s side had been boosted by the return of Veainu and Pietersen and the two continued to cause havoc among the Bristol defence, with the Tongan full-back skipping through several tackles to score Leicester’s third on 27 minutes.
Pietersen then wrapped up the bonus point before half-time, finishing off a brilliant team move – with Veainu again prominent – that began inside their own 22 for a 31-3 lead.
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) February 18, 2017
Former Tiger Hawkins bust over from close range on the stroke of half-time, with Woodward converting to provide Mark Tainton’s men with something to build on in the second period, but it was the Tigers who led 31-10 thanks to a dazzling half from Pietersen and Veainu.
But Hawkins’ try proved to be just a blip in the Tigers performance, with O’Connor charging down a Tusi Pisi clearance kick and scrambling clear to score the hosts’ sixth of the afternoon eight minutes into the second half.
Sam Harrison and Thompstone then combined for number seven, the wing darting over to take Mauger’s men 43-10 in front before Bateman and Jamal Ford-Robinson traded scores at the death.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) February 18, 2017