London Irish brought the X factor with them to Welford Road on Saturday which is fortunate because there was very little entertainment, invention and creativity on display from Leicester.
Marland Yarde and James O’Connor stole the show, cutting a path over the gain line time after time however it was not enough to see them pass Leicester who finished 20-11 victors.
It’s a rare feat to score two tries in a game without ever crossing the try line but that is exactly what Leicester did on Saturday thanks to a penalty try either side of the break after taking control of the scrum.
Referee Martin Fox generously gave Leicester their first penalty try in the 9th minute after just two offences but the second after the break came following a mind numbingly dull ten minutes, which saw the scrum reset 11 times before Fox raised his arm below the posts.
the good news is this was the type of game Leicester were losing a month ago, but even with the return of Tigers’ England internationals, Toby Flood, Ben and Tom Youngs and Dan Cole there was a distinct lack of cutting edge.
Leicester seemed content to ship the ball sideways and bludgeon their way forward but had little success against the spirited visitors.
It would be fascinating to see the tackling statistics from the match because Leicester put in hit after relentless hit to stop the energetic Irish backline and stayed resolute until the last couple of minutes when Fergus Mulchrone scored after a break from distance.
However there were positives and milestones in the game. There were mixed fortunes in the injury news, with Miles Benjamin starting his first league game for the club, since breaking his neck in the A League 14 months ago after moving from Worcester in the summer of 2012.
The former England Saxons winger looked bright on the rare occasions he got the ball and will add an extra dimension to Leicester’s full strength backline.
However sadly Matt Smith, who was also starting his first Aviva Premiership game of the season, playing in the centres in the wake of the dire injury crisis in that position, limped off the pitch in the 17th minute after his hamstring gave way straining to keep up with Yarde.
It was a significant day for Toby Flood who went past 1,000 premiership points with his two conversions and two penalties.
The Tigers club captain is just the the 13th player in the competition’s history to reach the milestone.
However the early signs are that Flood does not look as sharp since returning from playing a bit part role for England.
A lot of work will have to been done in the next five days if Tigers are going to get anything when they visit Kingsholm on Saturday to face Gloucester.
In other news
Leicester’s injury crisis continues with the news that British and Irish test lock Geoff Parling will be out of action for three months after undergoing surgery on his shoulder.
Parling injured the shoulder during England’s match against New Zealand last Saturday and, after taking medical advice this week, had an operation to repair it.