Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Ex-Files Volume III

Sad news in the Championship as Ollie Dodge has suffered a broken leg as his Bedford side went down away to James Grindal’s Bristol, Greg Gillanders and Phil Boulton also featured for the Blues.  Elsewhere loanee Kieran Brookes made a victorious debut for Doncaster alongside Dante Mama, Will Simpson and Jethro Rawling as they overcome Moseley despite 2 tries from Ben Pienaar.  No fewer than 7 ex-Tigers featured for Notts in their victory away to Plymouth, not including the on loan pair of Alex Lewington and Jonny Harris, Joe Cobden grabbed his third try of the campaign.  Diccon Edwards's Leeds side went down 21-8 against the Cornish Pirates, Callum Green played 60 minutes.

Dean Richards and John Wells have lead to Newcastle to yet another bonus point win, their 6 maximum out of 7, this time downing crisis stricken Rotherham 33-0 on a snow swept Kingston Park on Friday night, Jon Golding started at prop.

One league down sees Ollie Smith’s Esher sitting 4th, already ten points off the promotion spot occupied by Ealing, after a 19-12 victory at home to Cinderford.  Charlie Walker has played 4 games, scoring twice, in their promotion push.  Luke Myring was sin binned and Ben Toft bagged a try as Coventry lost away to Fylde, Alex Loney propped for the home side.  Joe Atkinson played for Scott Bemand’s Loughborough Students side that was not at the races as they lost to Blaydon.  Rob Conquest started and Michael Gillick featured from the bench as Cambridge lost to Blackheath at Rectory Field.

In the lower leagues, in National 2 North Will Hurrell has scored 6 tries in 8 games whilst elder brother Rob Hurrell has featured in 7 as Stourbridge continue the season unbeaten.  Meanwhile Estonian international Luke Veeble has dotted down once in 6 appearances for Leicester Lions alongside Marc Howgate.

In Japan Ben Herring’s NEC Green Rockets have had a tough start to the season losing 6 out of their first 8 and all four since our last update to leave them in 11th.  Alex Tuilagi has had a better season scoring a try against the Canon Eagles and starting three of the last four matches which have seen NTT Shining Arcs go on an unbeaten run to reach 6th in the Top League, he has also been called up for Samoa’s Autumn Internationals squad.

In Pro D2, France, Ayoola Erinle has featured twice more on the wing for Carcassone without troubling the scorers.  Cristophe Lassuacq’s Stade Francais had a topsy turvy win over Toulouse at the Stade de France, putting them 10th with 19 points from 9 games.  Ephraim Taukafa made his first top tier appearance since playing for Tigers against Newcastle in February 2006 as Mont du Marsan played Stade at the start of the month, this weekend he started against Bordeaux-Begles though Mont du Marsan continue their winless run now at 10 matches.  In Italy’s Ecellenza David Young featured for Lazio in a losing effort, whilst Lee Robinson missed out as L’Aquilla lost their 4th straight match.

Michael Horak the defence coach of the Orange Free State Cheetahs will be happy as they won the first leg of their relegation play off 53-14 against the Eastern Province Kings.  Down in New Zealand Aaron Mauger is another victorious coach as his Canterbury back line won the ITM Cup, previously the National Provincial Championship, 31-18 against eternal rivals Auckland.  Daryl Gibson has resigned his position of Crusaders backs coach, which Mauger is favourite to fill, and will now concentrate on coaching the New Zealand Maori on their forthcoming European tour.   In the Americas Rugby Championship Seb Pearson has made his Canada A debut, though he has missed out on selection for their November tour to Europe.

It’s been a busy week in the Premiership for the Ex-Tigers, headlines include Dan Hipkiss getting sent off against Exeter and Tom Varndell grabbing a brace of tries for Wasps.  Marco Wentzel was captain as Wasps beat London Welsh, with Varndell contributing two of the tries.  On Friday night Andy Goode bagged 19 points (1 try, 2 conversions, 3 penalties) as Worcester beat winless Sale.  Whilst at Bath along with Hipkiss’s red card Ignacio Meires came off the bench to grab a try and conversion for Exeter; Chris Whitehead also featured for the Chiefs as Sam Vesty came off the bench for Bath.  At Franklyn’s Garden Paul Gustard and his Sarries charges beat Dorian West’s Northampton 16-6, the try coming from Alex Goode.

In the Rabo Direct Pro 12 Andy Tuilagi scored a consolation try as Newport were thrashed 46-19 at home by a rampant Ulster side; Ian Nimmo featured from the bench for Newport.  Greig Tonks and his Edinburgh side also lost at home, conceding a 79th minute penalty to Llanelli.  Johne Murphy made his first appearance of the season from the bench as Munster took the bonus point win at home to Zebre.  Tom Ryder started as Glasgow won away to Treviso 24-13.  Leo Cullen played the first half as Leinster romped to a 9 try thrashing of Cardiff at the RDS, 59-22 was the final score as Cardiff managed 3 tries of their won.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Youngs and Allen free for Derby Day

Stuart Lancaster has deemed Ben Youngs and Anthony Allen surplus to requirements and has released the pair back to Tigers.  This will almost certainly mean they feature against Northampton this Saturday.  Also set to feature is Phil Dowson of Saints who also been released, whilst Tom Wood, Lee Dickson and Ben Foden have been retained and Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes are out injured.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Burns Night as Tigers Tricked

Kingsholm was a house of horrors for the trick or treating Tigers as they came up 6 points short of making it 5 in a row against the Cherry and Whites.  A near ten minute goal line siege was withstood and the final score was 27-21 in favour of the home side.  Ben Youngs withdrew in the warm up because of a tight hamstring and his replacement Sam Harrison had an afternoon to forget.

It is harsh to say that was the difference but the awesome foursome of Youngs-Flood-Allen-Tuilagi is undefeated domestically and Ben Youngs would certainly have made more of the impetus provided by a dominant pack.  The lack of any breaking game really hampers Harrison as the defence can just shift off him straight away and pressurise the rest of the backline.

Freddie Burns was the maestro for Gloucester and his two elegant chips fractured the Tigers defence.  The first was after only 50 seconds when a short side grubber allowed Charlie Sharples to outpace and outwit both Steve Mafi and Scott Hamilton to score in the corner.  The second was a combination of terrific skill and great awareness.  As Gloucester’s forwards rolled round the corner Sam Harrison and Toby Flood both went to fill in gaps in the defensive line, leaving no one sweeping in behind, Burns exploited the space with an outstanding chip and gather to stroll untouched under the posts.

Manu Tuilagi was at his powerful best, none more so than when giving the scoring pass for Tigers first try, it is a crying shame that he’s surely to miss the derby next week in preparation for the Fiji test. 

Questions have to be asked of Cockerill’s use of his bench, Harrison was mixed at best whilst Tom Youngs was struggling badly at the lineout.  With JC going off with a “stinger” there was an opportunity in the second half to switch Tom Youngs to the flank, keeping his brilliant round the field contribution, but have George Chuter’s calming experience at the lineout.  With one eye on next week too Chuter has barely featured this season and it will be a tough ask for him to come straight in from the cold.

Cockerill should, however, be credited with playing Cole for the whole game.  Cole is quickly becoming THE tighthead, not just in Leicester but Britain as he is sure to be the Lions choice on this kind of form.  It also helps keeping Castro fresh as he will be required next week when Lancaster is sure to demand that Cole rests.

One plus of having 4 locks on the pitch was a huge push from the scrum.  The force from the flankers-cum-locks was the difference as Tigers pack crushed the Gloucester 8 to win a penalty try, which in the final reckoning earned the losing bonus point.  However the lack of an openside hurt as Tigers could apply very little pressure on the Gloucester ruck and the lack of mobility in the wide open spaces was exploited by James Simpson-Daniel as he set up the third try for Gloucester’s Fijian flanker Akapusi Qera.  As England found out under Jack Rowell the positives of picking a huge backrow are massively outweighed by the negatives.

On Halloween it is usually the visitors who get the treats but this time Tigers just didn’t have enough tricks up their sleeve to give Gloucester a fright and take the 4 points.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Further academy games confirmed

The drip feed of fixtures for the new academy league continues as Leeds have announced they are playing away to Leicester on December 15th, though the venue has yet to be confirmed.

The league mirrors the A league with a Northern and Southern Conferences, though to balance out Saracens are apparently Northern! The league is for Under 18s (those born in 1994 or later) with three U-19 players allowed provided they have not reached their 19th birthday.

Fixtures so far:
Home to Leeds, December 15th
Home to Sale February 9th

Other weekends are confirmed as 

22 December
12 January
19 January
2 February
16 February

Loan Rangers

Kieran Brookes, Jonny Harris and Alex Lewington are all in Championship action this weekend after being loaned out for game time following the end of the A league campaign.

Keiran Brookes moves from National League 1 Loughborough Students to second bottom Championship side Doncaster Knights, he'll make his debut at tighthead tonight against Moseley at Castle Park.  If he features for Tigers against Wasps when we miss 4 props to international duty he will have played in the top 3 tiers of English Rugby, all before Christmas!

Alex Lewington returns to his home city of Nottingham where he enjoyed a successful loan spell last season contributing 4 tries in 20 appearances.  He is joined by prop Jonny Harris who features on the bench as Notts head to Brickfields to face surprise package Plymouth Albion.  Jonny has played 21 games over the past 3 years for Notts on Dual Registration from Tigers.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Just Gr8!

8 Tigers have been named by England supremo Stuart Lancaster for the 4 match Autumn International series.  There are 4 forwards: Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Thomas Waldrom and new inclusion Tom Youngs as well as the awesome foursome of Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Anthony Allen and Manu Tuilagi in the backs.  That foursome have only lost 2 of over 30 games played together at club level, surely it is time to see if they can cut it at international level too?  

England will play Fiji, Australia, South Africa and then New Zealand.  The 8 players are in line to miss 5 Tigers games: 2 LV cup games, the Maori game, as well as Wasps away and Bath at home in the Premiership.

These 8 bring the number of Autumn calls on the Tigers to 13, including 4 props, as Mulipola (Samoa), Ayerza (Argentina), Castrogiovanni (Italy), Mafi (Tonga) and Goneva (Fiji) are also missing.  I'm sure the national press will remember that when we inevitably struggle in the international window.

Congratulations to Dan, Geoff, Thomas, Toby, Manu, Anthony and most of all Ben and Tom brothers in arms.  Hopefully they will emulate the Underwoods and enjoy many England games together (a few grand slams wouldn't go a miss either!) and create a life time of happy memories for all those family Christmases of the future.

Forwards (17)
Mouritz Botha (Saracens)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)

James Haskell (London Wasps)
Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby)
Tom Palmer (London Wasps)
Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)

Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers)

David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs (15)
Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers)

Chris Ashton (Saracens)
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)

Alex Goode (Saracens)
Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)
Ugo Monye (Harlequins)
Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby)
Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)

Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Tom Youngs: What's the fuss about?

Tom Youngs is on the verge of making his test debut after just 6 Premiership starts in the position.  That is a phenomenal rise for the son of an England cap, his farther Nick, and the elder brother of another, Ben (you’ve probably heard of him he’s quite good). 

So what is all the fuss about?

As befits the kind of player who played age group international rugby in the centre he has slick passing skills and the rugby brain to know when to use them.  Witness his cracking off load in the build up to Thomas Waldrom’s try on the opening day against London Welsh.  Tigers have also managed to adapt their tactics to his unique skill set by often having him as first receiver; confident in his ability to spin the ball wide to Toby Flood or Anthony Allen to use an overlap or charge up the middle if nothing is on.

Richard Cockerill says in his book “raw aggression is vital in front five players” and “its 80% attitude and desire against 20% technique”.  Youngs certainly has that raw aggression and desire, 2 seasons learning his trade in the championship with Nottingham, at a completely new and sometimes baffling position, are evidence of the desire to make it in the game.   And aggression is the whole reason he moved to the front row in the first place.  The legend has it that a sin binning on October 10th 2008 whilst playing for the second team against Saracens, and captaining the side to boot, prompted Heyneke Meyer to suggest the position switch.  His crime?  Scrapping with a Sarries prop. 

But we can’t just forget that 20 technical percent.  And neither does Youngs.  His scrummaging simply is to the standard Tigers desire, and given that this is a club where Julian White once roamed the open pasture that is some compliment.  It easily makes his scrum work international standard and a real strength.  Apparently on age group duty, as a centre remember, he used to practice scrummaging against a young Dan Cole, that’s what I call foresight.  His lineout work has come on leaps and bounds since I first saw him play in the LV cup 3 seasons ago and whilst still the chink in his armour it is merely a scratch on an otherwise perfectly polished skill set.  Of course it is difficult to separate system errors which aren’t his fault from simple miss-throws which are, but that is a challenge he’ll face for England too.

In an age where hooking is undergoing a retro conversion back to the link men and the smaller mobile hookers, like Peter Wheeler was and Schalk Brits is, Youngs is perfectly adapted to this type of game.  He played a season of 7s for England in the IRB World Series just 6 months before the Meyer inspired switch to the smaller spaces of the front row and whilst bulkier now he still shows glimpses of the player lean enough to be a sevens specialist.

Whilst Youngs might be startlingly inexperienced at first glance, 6 Premiership starts and 2 Heineken Cup starts, he actually carriers the experience that a 25 more or less should.  He made his Leicester debut at 19 and has featured in 39 games for Leicester (including 10 at centre) and whilst on loan at Nottingham he made 40 appearances.  He’s played for England at every age group, he’s played for England 7s in the IRB World Series and he’s played for England’s midweek side this summer.  That is substantially more experience than Manu Tuilagi had on debut and more than enough to dispel any thoughts that he isn’t ready for international rugby.

So what’s the fuss about?  Put simply he is the kind of dynamic and aggressive hooker that English rugby is failing to produce in enough numbers.  He’s overcome the kind of setbacks that breed huge mental toughness and is putting in displays that remind this writer at least of the cocky aggressive nuggety hooker that he first watched from the Crumbie terrace: Richard Cockerill.  No wonder he’s starting every week!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Ayerza called for National Service

Just two weeks after returning from national duty with Argentina at the Rugby Championship Marcos Ayerza is set to miss a further three Tigers games as he is selected for the Argentinean tour of Wales, France and Ireland.  He will miss 2 LV Cup games, the Maori friendly and the Premiership encounter with Wasps.

Good Luck Marcos and lets hope you play a bit more this time!

Argentina squad:
Forwards: Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Toulon, captain), Leonardo Senatore (Gimnasia Rosario), Juan Manuel Leguizamon (Lyon), Tomas Leonardi (SIC), Julio Farias Cabello (Tucuman), Tomas de la Vega (CUBA), Patricio Albacete (Toulouse), Manuel Carizza (Jockey Club Rosario), Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers), Agustin Creevy (Montpellier), Juan Figallo (Montpellier), Eusebio Guinazu (unaffiliated), Bruno Postiglioni (La Plata), Francisco Gomez Codela (Biarritz)
Backs: Joaquin Tuculet (Grenoble), Santiago Cordero (Regatas Bella Vista), Horacio Agulla (Bath), Juan Jose Imhoff (Racing Metro), Manuel Montero (Pucara), Gonzalo Camacho (Exeter), Marcelo Bosch (Biarritz), Gonzalo Tiesi (SIC), Juan Martin Hernandez (Racing Metro), Nicolas Sanchez (Bordeaux-Begles), Nicolas Vergallo (Toulouse), Martin Landajo (CASI), Tomas Cubelli (Belgrano Athletic)

Brugnara trains with Italy U-20s

Tiger Cub Riccardo Brugnara has been named in a training squad for this season's Italy Under 20s.  Riccardo is mainly a loosehead prop though has experience in all three front row positions, he featured from the bench in 2 out of 5 A league games this season and is the only foreign based player named in the squad.  Our other Italian Academy prop Tiziano Pasquali misses out but is the year younger and should feature next time around.

Italy U-20s:
Nicolò ALBANO (Rugby Viadana)
Michele ANDREOTTI (Cammi Calvisano)
Mattia BELLINI (Petrarca Padova)
Giovanni BENVENUTI (Marchiol Mogliano)
Andrea BETTIN (Petrarca Padova)
Rudy BIANCOTTI (Valtellina Rugby)
Riccardo BRUGNARA (Leicester Tigers Academy)
Filippe BUSCEMA (UR Capitolina)
Riccardo DELLA ROSSA (Estra I Cavalieri Prato)
Angelo ESPOSITO (Benetton Treviso)
Alisoon GOBBO (Vea-FemiCZ Rovigo Delta)
Filippo GUARDUCCI (Marchiol Mogliano)
Stefano IOVENITTI (Paganica Rugby)
Vittorio MARAZZI (Crociati Rugby)
Simone MARINARO (Fiamme Oro Roma)

Maxime Mata MBANDA' (Rugby Grande Milano)
Pietro Amedeo MORESCHI (Rugby Viadana)
Alain MORICONI (UR Capitolina)
David Michael ODIETE (Zebre Rugby)
Edoardo PADOVANI (Marchiol Mogliano)
Sami PANICO (Mantovani Lazio)
Giacomo RIEDO (Zhermack Badia)
Jacopo SALVETTI (Cammi Calvisano)
Luca SCARSINI (Cammi Calvisano)
Andrea TROTTA (Nuova Rugby Roma)
Gianmarco VIAN (M-Three San DonĂ )
Alessio ZDRILICH (Cammi Calvisano)

Monday, 22 October 2012

Steve Mafi named in Tongan November squad

After a barnstorming Sunday game the Tongan Octopus Steve Mafi has been called up for his nation's November tour squad.  The 4 match tour takes in Castro's Italy in Brescia on November 10th, Dean Richard's Newcastle on Tuesday November 13th, the USA in Colwyn Bay on November 17th and finishing off with Scotland in Aberdeen on the 24th.

Good luck Steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeve!

Tonga squad:
Forwards: Sona Taumalolo, Saoane Tonga'uha, Alani'Aulika, Tevita Mailau, Taufa'ao Filise, Elevisi Taione, Ilaisa Ma'asi, Aleki Lutui, S. Sakalia, Joe Tu'ineau, Joshua Afu, Sione Timani, Tukulua Lokotui, Samisoni Fifita Masima, Hale Ta Pole, Sitiveni Mafi, Nili Latu, Sione Vaiomo'unga, Paula Kaho, Viliami Ma'afu, Uamano Fono.
Backs: Taniela Moa, Samisoni Fisilau, Fangatapu 'Apikotoa, Adney Mosese Uasila'a, Sione Piukala, Sukanaivalu Hufanga, Hudson Tonga'uiha, Viliami Helu, Viliami 'Iongi, Mateo Malupo, Fetu'u Vainikolo, Vunga Koto Lilo, Sitaleki Lu'au, 'Apakuki Ma'afu.

Black Power

A crazy final 10 minutes meant Tigers ended this game with 5 points instead of the 1 or 2 they were looking at on 70.  Manu Tuilagi's second score, diving over from a ruck inches out, secured what could turn out to be a precious point when the final reckoning comes.  The game finished 39-22 but Ospreys were more than a match for the Tigers for long stretches and only fell behind for the first time well into the second half.

Dan Biggar had a virtuoso kicking display but his moment of madness led to the decisive act of the game.  On 70 minutes and with the score 22-19 Ospreys were attacking on the half way line, playing towards the Welford Road; the play was sweeping towards the CAT stand from the Crumbie.  Biggar threw an ambitious pass aimed at Cornishman Joe Bearman (what a name!).  But Flood had read him like a book, or these days a blog, and timed his run perfectly picking Bearman's pocket.  He showed real gas as he raced away from the despairing Ospreys lunges to finishes with an Ashton-style splashdown. 

This was the cue for carnage.

Ospreys' feathers were ruffled.  Rhys Webb was caught at the break down and Tom "Tank" Waldrom fly hacked through.  The ball was bouncing loose, two Ospreys were covering it.  But rugby balls are funny buggers.  Bounce this way and that.  This one went that.  Matt Smith was on hand to collect the ball from Beck's clutches and freed Steve Mafi looping round towards the Crumbie touchline.  He beats one.  Then another.  There's a third one coming to force him into touch; this will be a pretty handy place to put some pressure on their lineout we're thinking.  But they don't call him the Tongan Octopus for nothing, his arms were all over the place, the ball going this way and that.  It ended up in Ben Youngs grasp.  As he wheels away towards the try line Scott Hamilton is running towards Flood "One more for the bonus point, take a quick conversion" he's saying (lip reading can be awful useful).  Great banter Scotty, Woodward would have called this T-CUP, so he would.  

Tigers worked themselves back in Ospreys territory with a strong maul and a fast move down the line.  Ben Youngs weaved in and out of the line drawing in the defence like bees to honey before realeasing his backline.  The move

Wave after wave of Tigers pressure bore down upon the Ospreys, first Youngs and Flood toyed with the Ospreys defence to free Mafi on the wing.  It came to nothing.  But the waves crashed down again and again.  Waldrom, then Crane, then Youngs and Flood as puppet masters again.  They pulled the Welshmen one way then the other.  Allen sees the space on the outside, he throws a beauty to the on rushing Tuilagi.  Some people will have you believe Manu can't pass, I hope they were watching.  An unbelievably flair back of the hand spin pass found that man Steve Mafi, the Tongan Octopus, on the wing.  Never mind on octopus we was the Tongan Harry Houdini as he escaped the cluthes of 4 Ospreys to step inside and set up the ruck inches out.  Then Manu pounced and 4 points became 5.

It had all started out so differently.  Ospreys kicked off and Tigers cleared limply.  Ospreys retained possession and released American-South African-Cornish-Welsh winger Hanno Dirksen down the right flank and within millimetres of the line.  Ryan Jones, from a questionable position in the ruck, picked up and drove over despite the attentions of Dan Cole.  Fussel made a break to put them back in the 22 just 3 minutes later but the move fizzled out with a knock on.  The Ospreys were taking flight.

They made it 10 nil after a midfield scrum collapsed on 11 minutes.  It was the dream start as Bevington was judged to have forced Cole down but the real damage was done by Lion Adam Jones.  Biggar was easily long enough from within his own half.  Then again the kickers had no excuse as the length of the Welford Road pitch has been forensically examined these past two weeks.

Things were looking bleak but a terrific series of bursts raised the spirits.  Manu Tuilagi was launched into the Ospreys like an exocet, further carriers by Kitchener then Manu, again, gained more ground before Allen was released down the right slaloming between the tacklers like Ivica Kostelic.  The move was halted by the sloppy ball retention of Mulipola.  So close.

It was the 27th minute before Tigers even got on the board.  It was coming in some form their had been breaks by Ben Youngs and Goneva before.  In the 25th minute a scrum penalty was kicked for touch, Tom Youngs throw was not straight.  Nightmare, we've just turn our noses up at 3 points!  What are we doing?  Well they had some idea after all.  Dan Cole gained his revenge and Tom Youngs's over throw was clearly a moment of tactical genius.

The first try was the work of a master craftsman.  Tom Youngs hugely powerful burst gets us on the front foot.  With that foot more space Flood is devastating.  This time he finds Goneva coming on his inside like a steam train, he's through the gap and all the momentum is with us.  Goneva is tackled by the full back but turns and finds Ben Youngs tracking on the inside.  A quick basketball style pass from Youngs finds Allen who pops through the remaining two tacklers to present Manu Tuilagi with a easy walk in.  Resplendent in their Black and Carbon tops this was trading of the finest passes.

Before half time Tigers scrum milked a yellow card but that was probably the high point for the scrum.  Unable to do anything around the half time interval Tiger actually finished the 10 minutes 3 points down as the 7 man Welsh pack, pride dented, surged forward after an accidental offside between Goneva and Waldrom and Biggar stepped forward to boot the goal.

Tigers finally took the lead in the 49th minute.  A midfield off side gave Flood the chance to level, a trademark break from Ben Youngs is then wasted as Youngs (after making 55m on the break) throws a wild miracle pass to no one.  The penalty comes from an Ospreys scrum after Adam Jones leaves the field and Flood makes the kick look easy.  We're probably watching the two best kickers in the British Isles this afternoon.

Flood extended the lead 2 minutes later.  A soft penalty on the TIgers 10 metre line was made much much worse as Richard "my eyes" Hibbard's petulant throwing away of the ball gifted Flood a further 10 metres, pushing it into his kicking range.

Biggar brought Ospreys back into it after three soft penalties marched Tigers back from the Ospreys own goal line.  The first was a marginal high tackle from Steve Mafi, one of his 8 arms having wrapped around Khan Fotuali'i's neck, the next a nothing scrum offence and the third penalty a weak offside from Goneva.  He was off side but pulled out before it affected anything.  You've seem them let go but it was probably a fair call.  In the end it didn't matter of course.  Biggar drew the Swansea side level on 60 minutes after Marcos Ayerza's second scrum penalty from two engagements.  You could almost see the rust being shook off.

Just 6 minutes later Flood gave the Tigers their lead which they were never to lose.  The kick was well into Tigers territory and even on Welford Road's infamously short pitch it was still something 55m.

Then the madness.  Then the carnage.  Then the bonus point.

This win was built on the solid uncompromising forward effort most typified by Tom Youngs and Dan Cole.  Impetus from the contact area garnered the first and last tries and several of the penalties.  It was old school Tigers rugby with Dan Cole cast as Dean Richards and Ben Youngs the reincarnation of Austin Healy, I know no higher praise to give.  It was a classic example of that old maxim:  The forwards win matches and the backs decide by how much.  And our backs decided it was going to be very much.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Great Tigers Artwork

Whilst surfing the net, as the cool kids call it, I came across this programme front being sold as a poster by a German company.  Tigers assure me this is all kosher so I thought I'd share it with my millions of viewers.

Get it here

Its a great piece of art and rather puts our recent programmes to shame!  For the history buffs my Tigers Tale tells me we lost the match 9-6.  Just shows a great piece of art can be much more memorable than a drab match.

Tigers name team for Sunday Service

Tigers make only 1 change to bench, Louis Deacon returning for Ed Slater, from the side that fluffed its lines in Toulouse.

15 Scott Hamilton
14 Niall Morris
13 Manu Tuilagi
12 Anthony Allen
11 Vereniki Goneva
10 Toby Flood
9 Ben Youngs
1 Logovi'i Mulipola
2 Tom Youngs
3 Dan Cole
4 Graham Kitchener
5 Geoff Parling
6 Steve Mafi
7 Thomas Waldrom
8 Jordan Crane (c)

16 George Chuter
17 Marcos Ayerza
18 Martin Castrogiovanni
19 Louis Deacon
20 Richard Thorpe
21 Sam Harrison
22 George Ford
23 Matt Smith

Swansea based Ospreys name an unchanged side from the one which snuck a last play bonus point at home to Treviso.

15 Richard Fussell
14 Hanno Dirksen
13 Andrew Bishop
12 Ashley Beck
11 Eli Walker
10 Dan Biggar
9 Kahn Fotuali'i
1 Ryan Bevington
2 Richard Hibbard
3 Adam Jones
4 Alun Wyn Jones (c)
5 Ian Evans
6 Ryan Jones
7 Justin Tipuric
8 Jonathan Thomas

16 Matthew Dwyer
17 Duncan Jones
18 Aaron Jarvis
19 George Stowers
20 Joe Bearman
21 Rhys Webb
22 Matthew Morgan
23 Tom Isaacs

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Nuneaton net Tony the Tiger

Tigers and England centre Tony Allen has joined National 3 Midlands side Nuneaton as a backs coach.  The stylish centre has committed to coaching the amateur side on Tuesday and Thursday nights, international commitments providing.  His first session was last week and is said to be settling in well.