Steve Borthwick’s first full season in charge of Leicester got off to a cracking start with a try bonus point victory over Gloucester in their Gallagher Premiership opener at Welford Road. Borthwick joined last summer before the restart of the 2019/20 campaign and he now has full control following the recent exit od director of rugby Geordan Murphy.
He sat in the stands to see wing Kobus van Wyk, hooker Tom Youngs, scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth and replacement hooker Charlie Clare get Leicester’s tries in a thumping 38-15 triumph. Fly-half Zack Henry kicked three penalties and two conversions and his replacement Joaquin Diaz Bonilla landed a conversion and penalty.
Gloucester’s tries came via hooker James Hanson and scrum-half Joe Simpson, with centre Billy Twelvetrees adding a penalty and conversion. The Leicester faithful, watching on TV, could have been forgiven for jumping for joy after the season of woe they endured in the previous campaign.
The Tigers were back to their best in a performance which was probably better than anything they have played in the last year. The speed of the ball was sharp, seen in the first try of the match as Wigglesworth sent centre Jaco Taute down the blindside for the South African to put in countryman van Wyk for a simple run-in to the corner, which Henry converted.
And Borthwick’s mark was all over Leicester’s second try to put the Tigers 12-0 up inside twelve minutes when the pack, inside Gloucester’s 22, rolled the ball, leaving the visiting forwards flailing and allowing Youngs his touch down.
"Reminds me of Leicester of old, that sort of little cute signing that they have done"https://t.co/wxdVyDjIAC
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 19, 2020
Twelvetrees managed to get Gloucester on the board with a 20-metre penalty but, by 25 minutes, Leicester had stretched their lead further. Henry sent the ball left from a ruck and Taute passed wide to wing Harry Potter, whose grubber kick to the Gloucester try-line was taken by Wigglesworth easily to touch down.
The fly-half converted and Gloucester’s problems mounted when skipper Lewis Ludlow suffered an accidental bang to the head that forced him off. A long Henry penalty put Leicester 22-3 in front, but Gloucester gave themselves a little hope when Hanson took a flip ball five metres from the line to get the Cherry and Whites’ opening, but unconverted, try.
But one decent half does not make a match and Leicester soon found Gloucester breathing down their necks following a neat score by Simpson, a popped pass by Ludlow’s replacement Freddie Clarke sending the scrum-half in. Twelvetrees’ conversion made it a seven-point difference, but another Henry penalty soon opened up the Tigers’ lead again.
Leicester might have had a shout for a penalty try when Clarke was yellow-carded for a ruck offence on his own line, but it was called as a penalty which the Tigers opted to kick to touch. Henry booted his third penalty with 15 minutes left, before both Hanson and home lock Calum Green were sent to the bin for a tit-for-tat ruck incident.
And Leicester sealed the win and their try bonus point with a touchdown for Clare. Bonilla converted and kicked a penalty in the last minute.
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Borthwick and Youngs have their say following last Friday's sudden departure of the long-serving Geordan Murphy
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 18, 2020
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