Leicester v Aironi, Heineken Cup, January 21
Tigers coast home against Aironi
January 21, 2012
Leicester wing Alesana Tuilagi smashes into the Aironi defence
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Leicester drew a line under another underwhelming Heineken Cup campaign with a 33-6 win over Aironi at Welford Road on Saturday.
Clermont's narrow home win over Ulster ensured the Tigers finished in third place in Pool 4. Forwards Thomas Waldrom and Ed Slater were the star performers to ensure the Tigers had plentiful possession but without half-backs Toby Flood and Ben Youngs and centre Manu Tuilagi, the hosts had considerable difficulty in breaking down a stubborn Italian defence.
They led only 9-6 at the end of a desperately poor first-half but with wind advantage in the second the Tigers upped their game, scoring four tries to ensure Aironi finished pointless in the group, having conceded a massive 274 points in their six pool games.
The Tigers dominated the opening 10 minutes, choosing not to take two kickable penalties in favour of more attacking options, but careless handling prevented them from collecting any points. Against the run of play, Aironi had the first chance for points and Naas Olivier made no mistake with his 50-metre penalty to give the Italians a 3-0 lead after 12 minutes.
Geordan Murphy, Tom Croft and Waldrom then constructed Leicester's best movement of the first-half to send Alesana Tuilagi over the try line, but the score was ruled out as Croft was adjudged to have put a foot in touch.
Eventually, after 21 minutes, the Tigers got on the scoreboard when they elected to kick at goal and Billy Twelvetrees made no mistake with his 25-metre kick. Olivier was given a chance to restore Aironi's advantage and again he was successful, this time with a wind assisted kick from 60 metres, but this was soon nullified by a second penalty from Twelvetrees.
Leicester continued to dominate the scrum, pushing Aironi back at every set piece, but still the Tigers couldn't pick up a first-half try and it was left to another penalty from Twelvetrees to give his side a half-time lead. Within three minutes of the restart, the Tigers finally crossed the line.
From a ruck 20 metres out, a pass from Mickey Young sent Waldrom through a huge gap in the visitors' defence for the No.8 to score unopposed. Twelvetrees missed the conversion, sending his simple kick wide.
Four minutes later Leicester were over again as the Aironi defence was now being stretched to the limit. Two strong driving runs from Slater put the Italians on the back foot and Ben Woods was on hand for the try which Twelvetrees converted. After 57 minutes Leicester scored their third try when Murphy dummied his way over to give his side a 26-6 lead going into the final quarter, but still poor handling in the difficult conditions continued to blight the Tigers' performance.
It took Leicester until the 71st minute to collect their bonus point when replacement George Ford displayed some neat footwork to outfox the Aironi defence for a try which he also converted.
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