Leicester 46-10 Scarlets, Heineken Cup, October 17
Tigers torture Scarlets
October 17, 2010
Man of the match Thomas Waldrom coasts over for a score against the Scarlets at Welford Road
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Leicester Tigers delivered a crushing reminder of their class with a thumping 46-10 victory over the Scarlets in their Heineken Cup clash at Welford Road.
The Scarlets grabbed the first try of the game through winger Morgan Stoddart and threatened to make a contest of it but were blown away by a ferocious second half showing from the Tigers. Prop Martin Castrogiovanni, scrum-half Ben Youngs, No.8 Thomas Waldrom, centre Matt Smith and a brace from flanker Tom Croft powered the hosts to an emphatic victory that leaves them firmly in control of Pool 5.
Leicester fly-half Toby Flood contributed 16 points on his return to action following a lengthy injury lay-off and his combination with Youngs set the tone for a rampant display, but it was the Tigers' controlled agression - led by Croft and man of the match Waldrom - that underlined a victory that will reverberate around Europe.
A lively opening from the Tigers lacked the precision to unlock a determined Scarlets defence and the visitors weathered that early storm before asking some questions of their own. A great pass from centre Regan King put Rhys Priestland into space down the short side and then what looked to be a scoring pass to winger Sean Lamont was knocked down by Leicester's Alesana Tuilagi - an offence that saw the Tigers' dangerman sent to the sin-bin.
But the Scarlets were not to be denied, with a superb sweeping move for the opening try of the game. Good hands across the back line put Lamont away up the touchline before flanker Josh Turnbull and then King loomed up in support. Stoddart then appeared on a great angle to coast in for an excellent team try that was converted by Jones.
Back came Leicester, though, with Flood and centre Matt Smith taking the game to the Scarlets before the forwards lent their considerable weight to the cause. A driving maul took the home side close before Castrogiovanni forced his way over from close range with a little help from lock George Skivington. Flood's conversion levelled the scores as Tuilagi returned to the fray but he was wide with his next effort midway through the half.
The Scarlets' eagerness to get their hands on the ball handed Flood a chance to atone for his miss but this time he kicked to the corner for the lineout. Good defence kept the Tigers at bay with Tuilagi held up and the Scarlets met fire with fire at the resulting scrum before forcing the turnover and clearing the danger. But the Tigers do not take rejection well and Tuilagi was soon on the charge again with his presence helping to draw the next penalty that Flood opted to put through the posts.
Another rampaging run from Tuilagi had the Scarlets stretched soon after and with their defence at breaking point, King was penalised for kicking the ball away from an offside position. The influential Scarlets centre was yellow carded for the offence and it got worse for the visitors, with prop Rhys Thomas stretchered off with an injury as Flood stroked over the simple penalty. But the Scarlets had the final say before the break with a Jones penalty given against Leicester for playing the ball on the ground.
Leicester wasted no time in exploiting their numerical advantage after the break, with their second try. Hooker George Chuter earned some hard yards off a lineout before Youngs skipped through a gaping hole in the Scarlets' defence on his way to the line. Flood was able to add the simple extras before King returned to the game having served his sin-bin.
The extra man did little to stem the tide, with an increasingly influential Youngs taking a quick tap before delivering a delightfully delayed pass to Waldrom, who then galloped in for his side's third try that was again converted by Flood. And the bonus point was in the bag just two minutes later after a Scarlets gamble back-fired. Youngs was involved again with a delightful chip before fullback Geordan Murphy and Croft added the finishing touches. Flood's conversion capped a 10-minute demolition job that all but decided the contest.
With the game seemingly won, Castrogiovanni and Youngs made way before the hour mark for Dan Cole and James Grindall but the changes only caused a brief break in Leicester's onslaught. Pressure in defence forced the error from the Scarlets before Tuilagi picked up the ball and launched a kick and chase. Lamont won the race to the ball but it was soon back in Leicester's hands with the ball worked wide to Croft, who strolled over for his second try which was converted by Flood.
Leicester continued to trouble the Scarlets, with Tuilagi going close in the corner only to be denied by a desperate tackle from Gareth Maule. A scything run from Murphy then cut a demoralised Scarlets defence apart and although he was hauled down just short of the line, the ball was recycled to Smith, who scooped it up superbly before touching down.
Replacement fly-half Billy Twelvetrees could only push his conversion attempt wide but the miss did little to take the shine off what could be a season-defining display.
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Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum.