Former Crusaders’ backrower Jordan Taufua delivered an inspirational performance for Leicester Tigers in his first home game at Welford Road.

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Despite his side going down 31-22 to table-toppers Exeter Chiefs, the power of Taufua gave the Tigers a much-needed lift as they matched Exeter for 60-minutes before losing control in the final quarter.

The backrower made his impact early, earning a penalty at the breakdown for his side before steamrolling Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg on a bulldozing run down the touchline. Collecting a cross-field kick from George Ford, Taufua deliberately lined up the fullback before flattening him.

As he scored his first try in Tigers’ colours, he roared to the crowd’s delight after slamming the ball down emphatically. Leicester fans were buoyed by the showing of one of their high-profile recruits as the side tries to avoid relegation.

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Taufua earned the Tigers’ fans’ vote for player of the match with 50% of the polling.

Following the match head coach Geordan Murphy said that Taufua is ‘going to be massive for us’ for the remainder of the season.

“Jordan came from New Zealand having played a long season already,” he said.

“He had a knock at London Irish so we stood him down for a few weeks. He had a great game today, it was great for him to score the first try. He’s going to be massive for us.”

The Tigers missed out on a much-need losing bonus point that would have given them some reward for the improved showing.

With just one win from their opening six games, Saracens have been able to close the gap on Leicester to 17 competition points after being docked 35 points for salary cap infringements.

At this rate, Saracens will comfortably catch the Tigers well before the end of the season putting the former powerhouse club at risk of Championship relegation. Wasps, also with just one win, will also be in the firing line.

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