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Leicester demolish Worcester to confirm best Prem start since 1997

By PA

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Leaders Leicester reeled off a fifth successive Gallagher Premiership victory of the season as they demolished Worcester 48-3 at Sixways. It confirmed Tigers’ best start to a Premiership campaign since the competition began in 1997. They opened up a seven-point gap on nearest rivals Harlequins, with Worcester being the latest team to witness at first hand Leicester’s continued resurgence under head coach Steve Borthwick.

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The Tigers were home and dry by the interval following tries for wing Harry Potter, centre Matias Moroni and hooker Julian Montoya, leaving Worcester reeling. Fly-half George Ford underlined his claims for an England recall in Eddie Jones’ Autumn Nations Series squad that will be announced on Monday, impressing throughout and kicking a penalty and three conversions.

Former England scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth scored a bonus-point try midway through the second period before hooker Nic Dolly claimed his fifth try of the season as Leicester ensured no let-up during the closing minutes. Wing Nemani Nadolo powered over and substitute Freddie Burns, who added two conversions, also crossed.

Beaten 42-5 by Exeter last weekend, Worcester were once again on the end of a major drubbing as they slumped to a fourth Premiership defeat on the bounce. England centre Ollie Lawrence clocked up 50 appearances for the Warriors, while head coach Jonathan Thomas made five changes from the side crushed by the Chiefs last weekend, including starts for full-back Harri Doel, scrum-half Will Chudley and flanker Sam Lewis.

Unbeaten Leicester included South African back-rowers Marco van Staden and Jasper Wiese and there was a place on the bench for 38-year-old Wigglesworth, who provided scrum-half cover. Leicester made the early running and Ford kicked them into a sixth-minute lead after Worcester infringed on the edge of their own 22.

The Warriors could make little impression on the contest and they fell further behind after 13 minutes following more strong work by Leicester’s pack. Worcester did well to defend an attacking lineout, but Potter then surged through a huge gap for a try that Ford converted and Tigers led 10-0. Billy Searle opened Worcester’s account through a long-range penalty, yet it proved only a temporary reprieve for the home side as the Leicester forwards again made hay in the sunshine. When the ball was moved wide, Ford’s neat pass sent Moroni through for his team’s second try that opened up a twelve-point gap midway through the second quarter.

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Leicester had complete control of the game, pinning Worcester inside their own half for long periods, and a third try arrived before half-time when Montoya touched down and Ford added the extras. It gave the Tigers a 22-3 interval advantage and the second 40 minutes appeared to be nothing more than a damage-limitation exercise for Worcester after being physically dominated and tactically out-thought.

Leicester full-back Freddie Steward made a searing break shortly after half-time that should have led to a try, but Worcester escaped and then enjoyed a good spell of pressure inside Tigers’ 22 either side of Warriors hooker Scott Baldwin briefly going off injured. Referee Luke Pearce then ran out of patience with repeated Leicester infringing and Tigers flanker Hanro Liebenberg was yellow-carded.

It made little difference to the overall picture, though, and Tigers claimed a fourth touch down after superb approach work by Nadolo that allowed Wigglesworth a clear run to the line. Ford converted, and Leicester should have gone past 30 points when Steward crossed, but the try was disallowed following a neck grab by van Staden. Dolly soon resumed normal service, though, and there was time for Nadolo to claim try number six, with Worcester desperate to hear the referee’s final whistle as Burns dived over.

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Leicester demolish Worcester to confirm best Prem start since 1997

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