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Tigers secure home semi-final

06 May 2006
Tigers secure home semi-final

Leicester Tigers’ five-try demolition of Bristol at Welford Road means they bagged the bonus point needed to secure a home tie in the semi final of the Guinness Premiership play-offs.

Tigers powered to a sixth straight win and avoided the nailbiting drama of single point wins over Wasps and Saracens.

The crushing win means Leicester have gone through a complete league season unbeaten at home for the sixth time in the nine-year history of the Premiership and condemned Bristol to a third straight defeat.

Austin Healey captained Leicester in his final home league game before he starts his part-time contract next season and two tries from George Chuter and further scores from Tom Varndell, Alesana Tuilagi and Michael Holford ensured he had the perfect send off.

Leicester were hell-bent on avenging the 15-3 defeat suffered at Bristol in December and were put on course by tries from Chuter and Varndell in the space of five minutes in the second quarter that opened up a 13 -3 interval lead.

They went further ahead six minutes after the interval when Chuter crossed for his second try after Tuilagi’s blistering 40 metre break had taken Leicester deep into Bristol’s 22.

Sam Besty missed the conversion and Tigers added a fourth try to secure the bonus point four minutes later.

Lewis Moody’s crunching tackle on Bernardo Stortoni lead to the Bristol full-back spilling the ball and Tuilagi cashed in to cross in the corner for a try that Besty converted to make it 25-3.

Holford found a way over for Leicester’s fifth try from close range after 59 minutes and Andy Goode kicked the difficult conversion from the left-hand touchline to complete the scoring.

Tigers drew first blood through Geordan Murphy’s second-minute penalty and that was the only score in an opening quarter punctuated by handling errors.

The wet conditions were to blame and the most costly slip came from Tigers centre Daryl Gibson after 15 minutes. He was unable to hang on to Healey’s pass 20m from the line with the defence opening up in front of him.

Jason Strange’s kicks kept Leicester’s backs on their toes and his grubber kick led to the 25th-minute penalty that he slotted home to draw the side level.

Parity lasted only five minutes, however. Leicester went back in front with Chuter the scorer of the game’s opening try following a catch and drive.

Murphy dragged his conversion wide of the posts and made amends when he started the break that helped Healey set up Leicester’s second try after 35 minutes.

Healey burst through a gap in Bristol’s midfield and the fly-half’s long pass sent Varndell diving over in the right-hand corner for his 14th try in 16 starts in the Guinness Premiership this season.

Murphy was off target with the conversion to leave Leicester leading 13-3.

Varndell had the chance to grab his second try in the closing moments of the half, but he was unable to grab Moody’s pass.

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