Rugby Union: Tiger with telling kick continues to walk tall

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The Independent Online
Leicester. . . .28

Gloucester. . . .8

NO WONDER the rest are looking up to England and fearing the worst. We appear to be living in the land of giants, an impression well illustrated at Welford Road. Paul Ackford, a tower of strength in the line-out not so very long ago, was in the bar afterwards but then the lights seemed to dim when Richard West arrived upon the scene to quench his thirst.

West is 22, stands 6ft 8in and weighs in at around 17 stone. He was one of the main reasons why Leicester hardly had a sniff of possession in the opening exchanges and when the Gloucester lock fills out, heaven help the opposition. The Tigers, though, are hardly short of the necessary in their own ball-winning department and thankfully for them Martin Johnson, a mere 6ft 7in, was later able to claim his fair share of the spoils.

Bearing in mind that Johnson, who will be partnering Northampton's 6ft 10in Martin Bayfield in the second row at Murrayfield, has yet to turn 24 and that the likes of Bristol have uncovered the athletic 6ft 9in Simon Shaw, a tremendous 20- year-old prospect, and Ackford, now a rugby correspondent, has years of writing on his favourite subject to come.

The secret, of course, is to turn possession into points, which is where Leicester have found themselves in seventh heaven of late. Against Bristol last month, for example, Jez Harris landed seven match-winning penalties and here on Saturday he again equalled the Courage best shared by himself, David Pears and Rob Andrew.

Which left Gloucester kicking themselves, not least Keith Richardson. Having seen his side match Leicester in try-scoring, the coach admitted: 'With goal-kicking like that you cannot give away penalties and still expect to win matches.' Gloucester, facing the wind, were blown away in the first half when Harris, who will be stand-off for England Emerging Players in Spain next weekend, put over his first five penalties.

The pity of it was that Gloucester, looking to benefit in the absence of Dean Richards and Neil Back, one little 'un who can hold his head high in the land of the giants, had fought against the elements commendably well to emerge only 10 points adrift at the break. This followed a fine line-out take and drive over the line from the No 8 Dave Sims.

With the wind at their backs, however, Gloucester had managed only one penalty from Tim Smith before Harris's miss-pass saw Wayne Kilford put Tony Underwood clear away on the right. Never mind the wind, Harris then converted the try from the touchline and signed off with two further penalties, the Tigers only too happy to pocket the points and maintain their pursuit of those other giants from the west.

Leicester: Try T Underwood; Conversion Harris; Penalties Harris 7. Gloucester: Try Sims; Penalty T Smith.

Leicester: W Kilford; T Underwood, L Boyle, S Potter, R Underwood; J Harris, A Kardooni; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, M Johnson, M Poole, J Wells (capt), C Tarbuck, W Drake-Lee.

Gloucester: T Smith; P Holford, S Morris, I Morgan, M Nicholson; D Cummins, B Fenley; T Windo, J Hawker, A Deacon, S Devereux, R West, P Glanville, D Sims, I Smith (capt).

Referee: B Campsall (Sowerby).

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