Nottingham Rugby completed their pre-season campaign with a
mauling at the hands of the Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.
The Aviva Premiership giants demonstrated a clinical edge to
their finishing which proved too much for the visitors' defence, as
they continually made their possession count and converted it into
points on the scoreboard,
First-half tries from Thomas Waldrom, Vereniki Goneva and Scott
Hamilton, plus a penalty try, gave Tigers a 28-7 advantage at the
break. Goneva and Hamilton both added a second after the break, and
there were others for Anthony Allen, Jordan Crane, Richard Thorpe
and Alex Lewington.
On August Bank Holiday weekend a rainstorm of epic proportions
welcomed the teams before a minute's silence was held in honour of
Nottingham player Mitchell Todd who was killed in a car accident
Tigers, wearing their away colours, as they will at London Welsh
in the Aviva Premiership opener next Sunday, opened the scoring
after just six minutes. Nottingham defended strongly against a
driving maul but a flat pass from Toby Flood found Manu Tuilagi at
pace and, although he was brought down just short, No8 Thomas
Waldrom picked up to dot down. Flood's extras from in front of the
posts made it 7-0.
Nottingham did not sit back, though, and a smart break in
midfield from Tim Streather put wing Rhys Crane in space on the
left but he knocked-on as the Tigers defence closed in.
Another Tuilagi break looked to set up a second score for Tigers
as Scott Hamilton finished in the left-hand corner, but the
referee's assistant flagged for a block by Tigers in midfield and a
penalty was awarded to the visitors.
Japan international fly-half James Arlidge poked an excellent
kick in behind the Tigers to get Nottingham some go-forward and,
when Micky Young's kick was blocked, Matt Parr dropped on the ball
to score. Arlidge's conversion made it 7-7 with 17 minute gone.
But Tigers showed some power at a set of scrums close to the
Nottingham tryline and, with the visitors penalised more than once
and Thomas Waldrom in control of the ball, referee Sean Davey
awarded a penalty try, with Flood adding the conversion.
Steve Mafi showed real pace on the right in the next Tigers
attack, but Rhys Crane intercepted the pass intended for Hamilton
just as Tigers looked like adding a third try in the opening
The try did come in the 35th minute, with skipper Geordan Murphy
and Tuilagi combining to put home debutant Vereniki Goneva in
possession on the left and he finished a combination of pace and
footwork put him in the hole between two defenders and gave him a
run in under the posts. Flood added his third conversion to
increase the lead to 21-7.
Tuilagi played a big part in the next score just before
half-time, making a decisive break at centre and then passing wide
to his left for Hamilton to dot down. Flood's conversion gave
Tigers a 28-7 lead.
Joe Cain, Sam Harrison and Dan Cole emerged from the
replacements' bench for the second half, and Tigers started
brightly, putting pressure on the Nottingham line
A burst from Tuilagi created a second score of the day for
Goneva on the left and barely two minutes later Anthony Allen
darted through a gap in midfield and offloaded the ball for
Hamilton to run in his second of the day. Flood's kick stretched
the lead to 40-7 with 47 minutes played.
Anthony Allen grabbed try No7, with Goneva supplying the scoring
pass just a few metres out. Flood kicked the extras.
Jordan Crane, making his first appearance at Welford Road since
the end of the 2010/11 season, got straight on the scoresheet,
showing excellent control at the base of a scrum in a hurry to go
forward and dotting down on the left as Tigers topped the
Richard Thorpe added the next points on the left side after good
work going forward by Goneva and Crane.
Replacement prop Fraser Balmain carried ball for 50 metres with
the tacklers falling off him as Tigers looked to added a tenth try
and it almost came when Goneva wriggled over, only to be whistled
for a double movement.
Replacement wing Alex Lewington provided the last score, cutting
in on the left of the posts and George Ford added the conversion to
bring to game to a close.