Leicester Tigers hammer Scarlets to stay alive

Leicester Tigers kept their chances of reaching the European Rugby Champions cup quarter finals alive by thumping the Scarlets 40-23 and earning a bonus point victory at Welford Road.

Six tries from Miles Benjamin, Jordan Crane, Adam Thompstone, a Tom Youngs brace and Sam Harrison were just rewards for Leicester’s domination at the set-piece.

Scarlets were game throughout and scored tries through Rob Evans and a Harry Robinson brace, but apart from a short period at the end of the first half, when playing with a numerical advantage, they never looked likely to upset the formbook.

Both sides came into the game needing a bonus point victory to stay alive in the competition and Leicester must now win away to Ulster in their final match, or perhaps hope the Irish province upset Pool 3 leaders Toulon in France on Saturday, to potentially reach the quarter-finals.

Scarlets put the first points on the board through Bath-bound fly-half Rhys Priestland but then Tigers kicked into gear.

Quick ball from scrum-half Ben Youngs, a miss-pass from fly-half Freddie Burns and a clever flick from right wing Thompstone allowed full-back Mathew Tait to give powerful left wing Benjamin the chance to bulldoze through two stretched tacklers to touch down in the corner.

Leicester showed their intent when they kicked a penalty to the corner rather than going for the posts — the bonus paramount in their thoughts.

And they were rewarded with a catch-and-drive from the line-out forcing Crane over.

However, after that blistering first 20 minutes, the Tigers started to lose their way with dropped passes and a succession of penalties at the breakdown.

Priestland notched his second penalty and then the tide turned dramatically when Leicester lock Graham Kitchener was sin-binned on 32 minutes.

It took Scarlets just 60 seconds to capitalise as they played Leicester at their own game, kicking a penalty to the corner and then driving Evans over from close range.

Having spent the first part of the match chasing shadows, Scarlets turned around at the break trailing just 14-11.

But normal service was resumed once Kitchener returned and Thompstone punished a stretched Welsh backline to canter over.

Burns missed his first conversion of the evening but Tigers were now just one try away from their coveted bonus.

And they earnt that on 53 minutes as Tom Youngs, just a minute after replacing Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, popped up with the ball after another catch-and-drive line-out from close range.

Scarlets simply couldn’t handle Leicester’s power in the set-piece and Ben Youngs teed up his brother Tom for his second try after a break from the back of a ruck.

The Welsh outfit may have been beaten but they weren’t bowed and perfectly delayed passes from centres Scott Williams and Regan King put wing Robinson over in the right corner on the hour.

But flanker Aaron Shingler was sin-binned and Italy back-rower Robert Barbieri set up replacement scrum-half Harrison for Leicester’s sixth.

Before Shingler returned, Scarlets showed clinical finishing as Robinson was again found in space wide on the right for the ninth and final try of a thrilling match.

Final Score Leicester Tigers 40 (14) Scarlets 23 (11)

Scorers

Leicester Tigers
Tries – Benjamin, Crane, Thompstone, T Youngs 2, Harrison
Pen –
Con – Burns 4, Williams
Drop –

Scarlets
Tries – Evans, Robinson 2
Pen – Priestland 2
Con – Shingler
Drop –

Match Officials

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France),
Assistant ref: Salem Attalah (France),
Assistant ref: Jean-Luc Rebollal (France),
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France),
Citing Commissioner: John Cole (Ireland)

Leicester Tigers: Matthew Tait; Adam Thompstone, Vereniki Goneva, Seremaia Bai, Miles Benjamin; Freddie Burns, Ben Youngs (c); Michele Rizzo, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Logovii Mulipola, Brad Thorn, Geoff Parling, Tom Croft, Julian Salvi, Jordan Crane

Replacements: Tom Youngs, Marcos Ayerza, Fraser Balmain, Graham Kitchener, Robert Barbieri, Sam Harrison, Owen Williams, Matt Smith

Scarlets: Jordan Williams; Harry Robinson, Regan King, Scott Williams (c), Hadleigh Parkes; Rhys Priestland, Aled Davies; Rob Evans, Ryan Elias, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jake Ball, George Earle, Aaron Shingler, John Barclay, Rob McCusker

Replacements: Darran Harris, Wyn Jones, Peter Edwards, Lewis Rawlins, James Davies, Rhodri Williams, Steven Shingler, Rory Pitman

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