Tigers not fazed by fixture congestion

Leicester Tigers boss Pat Howard has adopted a philosophical stance to the fixture congestion that is challenging his side’s bid for an unprecedented treble.

Howard’s men will play their fourth game in 14 days when Wasps arrive at Welford Road for a Heineken Cup final dress rehearsal on Saturday.

But despite Tuesday night’s 30-13 defeat against Guinness Premiership play-off rivals Bristol in a rearranged Ashton Gate clash, Leicester remain on course for further silverware.

Howard made 13 changes from the side that beat Heineken semi-final opponents Llanelli Scarlets last weekend, with only wing Tom Varndell and prop Alex Moreno remaining on starting duty, and wholesale switches are again likely for Wasps’ visit.

Howard said: “Everything has been squeezed up in terms of the fixtures. It is tough, but we have to deal with it.

“I brought a side down to Bristol I thought could win, so I make no excuses. We came up short.

“The players tried very hard, and we had our opportunities, but our ball control wasn’t that good. It was a fantastic learning curve for some of the guys.”

Bristol’s 14th win of the league campaign means Wasps, Premiership champions in 2003, 2004 and 2005, will not reach this season’s play-offs if they lose against Leicester.

There is even a distant chance that Leicester could miss out should Wasps leave Welford Road victorious.

Bristol, though, are going flat out for a home tie in the play-offs after moving up two places into third ahead of Saturday’s regular season finale against Gloucester, which also takes place at Ashton Gate, but it is an ‘away’ fixture for Bristol due to redevelopment work at Gloucester’s Kingsholm ground.

Bristol head coach Richard Hill said: “The carrot for us now is if we beat Gloucester then we would have a home tie in the semi-finals.

“And that gives us a huge incentive. We have a big, big prize to go for now.”

Bristol triumphed through 20 points from fly-half Danny Gray and tries by forwards Roy Winters and Scott Linklater, and Hill added: “We have got some tired legs, but a win always freshens people up.

“It will be a massive achievement if we get there in terms of the play-offs, and I think we will be pretty tough to beat if we get a home game at the Memorial Stadium.”

 

365 Digital

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