Leicester hold off London Irish despite England prospect's 70m try
Reigning champions Leicester moved up to fifth in the Gallagher Premiership with a hard-fought 33-31 win over bottom club London Irish, who mounted a dramatic fightback in an entertaining game of 10 tries.
Tigers’ bonus-point victory saw them climb above Gloucester and Exeter, while battling Irish suffered their seventh defeat in eight league outings this season, their only success being a 47-38 win at home to Bath.
It took Leicester less than three minutes to score the opening try. They declined a kickable penalty in favour of more attacking options and were rewarded when Montoya drove over after a period of sustained pressure.
It was not the best of starts for Irish, who had lost their last six away games in the Premiership, but they responded quickly with a try from lock Ratuniyarawa, who proved unstoppable from close range.
Back came Tigers to score their second when Wigglesworth darted over from a maul, five metres from the visitors’ line. There was a strong suspicion that the scrum-half lost control before grounding, but after countless replays the try was awarded.
Burns made a hash of the touchline conversion, but his side still led 12-7 at the end of a lively first quarter.
The hosts extended that advantage when they capitalised on an Irish handling error. Matt Scott was on hand to secure possession before launching a well-judged kick for co-centre Potter to win the race to collect and touch down.
The successful conversion from Burns took him past 1,500 Premiership points and he soon added another after Reffell had powered over for the bonus-point try.
Irish looked in danger of being overrun, but they struck back with a penalty try, awarded for collapsing, with home number eight Olly Cracknell yellow-carded for the offence.
After the restart, Cracknell returned from the sin-bin in time to see Irish score their third try when Rogerson burst away from a maul.
Minutes later, Irish stunned their opponents by drawing level when Hassell-Collins scored the try of game by racing 70 metres along the left-hand touchline for a superb individual score.
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Tigers introduced Wiese and Ollie Chessum to add to some muscle to the pack and it paid dividends when Wiese crashed over.
However, Irish would not lie down and more enterprising play from Hassell-Collins created their fifth try scored by Pearson.
Leicester sensed an upset but could not settle their nerves as Burns first missed a drop-goal and then a long-distance penalty attempt, but they just held on for a valuable five points.