Kayser the chief inspiration as Tigers find feet again

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The Independent Online

Leicester, who will welcome back their England World Cup players next week, stayed in touch with the Guinness Premiership pace-setters, Gloucester and Saracens, with this home victory over Worcester. Two successive defeats (by the sides mentioned above) had knocked the Tigers back, but a home fixture against the only winless side in the competition was a perfect opportunity to get their show back on the road.

Worcester, as always, fought hard, but the defending champions' victory meant they havewon four of their six Premiership games in the absence of Martin Corry, Ben Kay, Lewis Moody, George Chuter and Dan Hipkiss, a return they would probably have accepted when the season began.

The former England and Leicester hooker Richard Cockerill took charge of his last League game at Welford Road before handing the coaching reins over to Marcelo Loffreda, who led Argentina to third place at the World Cup on Friday night.

Worcester had won only one of the previous 10 meetings between the sides – and that at their Sixways home – and had given lowly Leeds their first win of the season at Headingley the week before. Playing to type, the visitors made the worst possible start as their enormous Welsh No 8 Gavin Quinnell fumbled the kick-off. Leicester piled on the pressure straight away and their experienced Irish fly-half Paul Burke slotted home a second-minute penalty as a result.

Worcester's Australian full-back Shane Drahm drew the sides level after 11 minutes with a penalty of his own before the home side went ahead again midway through the half. The flanker Ben Herring plunged over from close range after hanging on to Benjamin Kayser's throw at the back of the line-out. Burke added the conversion to make it 10-3.

Worcester were level after 28 minutes when their Samoancentre Dale Rasmussen poweredover from close range. Drahm converted.

But Burke slotted home another penalty seven minutes later and Leicester went further clear moments after the ensuing restart. The Tigers' former England centre Ollie Smith snatched the ball just as Worcester's scrum-half, Ryan Powell, was about to pick it up; Smith then charged through from 50 metres totouch down. Burke's conversionmade it 20-10 to the home team at half-time.

Drahm and Burke swapped penalties early in the second half before Leicester grabbed the crucial score on 58 minutes. Kayser, the promising young hooker signed from Stade Français in thesummer, powered over the line from close range.

Burke dragged the conversion wide and Worcester then hit back, the former Springbok full-back Thinus Delport's charge leading to the Australian back-rower Drew Hickey crossing the line in the 69th minute. Loki Crichton, himself recently back from Samoa duty in France, converted to reduce the lead to eight points.

Worcester could not get any closer, however, and they will be cut adrift at the bottom of the pile if Leeds can get a result at Bristol today. It is already lookinglike being yet another long, hard season for the men from theWest Midlands.

Leicester: G Murphy; J Murphy, O Smith, S Vesty, S Rabeni; P Burke, B Youngs; B Stankovich, B Kayser, M Castrogiovanni, J Hamilton, L Deacon, M Wentzel, B Herring, B Deacon (capt).

Replacements: M Davies, D Young, J Crane, L Abraham, F Murphy, M Cornwell, T Varndell.

Worcester: S Drahm; T Delport, D Rasmussen, M Tucker, M Garvey; L Crichton, R Powell; D Morris, A Lutui, T Tuamoepeau, W Bowley, C Gillies, DHickey, P Sanderson (capt), G Quinnell.

Replacements: T Windo, B Gotting, P Murphy, K Horstmann, M Powell, J Brown, M Benjamin.

Referee: D Pearson (Newcastle).

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