Rampant Leicester reign in the jungle

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Rugby Union

STEVE BALE

Leicester 39 Transvaal 14

The Tigers had overwhelmingly the better of the Golden Lions at Welford Road last night in a pulsating match which occasionally descended into rugby's equivalent of the jungle but ended up as a conspicuous recommendation for England's champion side.

Transvaal, the Currie Cup winners more often than not in recent seasons, were present for the official opening of the pounds 2.3m, 3,000-seat Alliance & Leicester stand, which has extended the ground's capacity to 17,000, although last night's attendance was a somewhat more modest 10,000.

The South Africans started without all the Springboks who had been at Twickenham with the exception of the reserve hooker, Chris Rossouw, though Leicester showed no such mercy on their two England men, Rory Underwood and Martin Johnson.

The splendour of the new stand was not matched by anything much that occurred on the pitch. Far more noteworthy than the penalties - five by John Liley to two by Joe Gillingham - which comprised nearly all the first- half scoring was the extreme ill feeling which punctuated the exchanges.

As they settled after more than a month without rugby, so the South Africans grew increasingly dangerous and with half-time approaching they broke through.

They recycled the ball three times but could not find a way through the Leicester defence until Porta Hoffmann's grub-kick eluded Niall Malone for Christiaan Scholtz to score.

Down by four points at the interval, Transvaal reduced this deficit to one with Gillingham's third penalty - only for Leicester immediately to retaliate with a try of their own.

Underwood created the position with a blistering touchline run such as England could have done with last Saturday, and when Leicester gained a penalty a quick tap gave Neil Back the necessary opening.

''Are you watching, Mr Rowell?'' a spectator called, in reference to the England manager's failure to select Back, a widespread feeling here that was heightened when the same player went on to score Leicester's second try, too.

Johnson won a line-out and transferred to Back as the pack drove to the line. ''Try scored by England's No 1 open-side flanker,'' the announcer announced to a rapturous reception. Liley's sixth penalty, a third try scored by John Wells and all three conversions by Liley added further embellishment to an exceptional Leicester performance.

Leicester: Tries: Back (2), Wells; Cons: Liley (3); Pens: Liley (6). Transvaal: Try: Scholtz; Pens: Gillingham (3).

Leicester: J Liley; S Hackney, P Delaney, R Robinson, R Underwood; N Malone, A Kardooni; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, M Johnson, M Poole, J Wells, D Richards (capt), N Back. Replacement: P Grant (for Johnson, 38).

Transvaal: J Gillingham (Technikon); P Hendriks (Roodepoort), C Scholz, P Hoffmann, J Louw; L van Rensburg (all Rand Afrikaans University), J Adlam (Randfontein); N Whitehead, Chris Rossouw, K van Greuning, C Niemand, P Schutte, Charles Rossouw (capt), G Gouws (all Rand Afrikaans University), L Stewart (Roodepoort).

Referee: C Reeks (Lydney).

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