Rugby Union: Tigerish Richards burns bright again

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Leicester. . . . . . .66

Newcastle Gosforth. . .5

TOO late the hero may be for a crack at Wales when they come knocking on Twickenham's door next weekend, but Dean Richards was back and enjoying himself in the thick of a cracking Leicester performance at Welford Road yesterday. Poor Newcastle Gosforth, 34 points adrift in 34 minutes, hardly knew what hit them.

With Dick Best, the England coach, present, Richards could have wished for nothing better than to be part of these hungry tigers following an eight-week lay-off recovering from a dislocated elbow. 'Dean has been working hard in the gym and is probably fitter than before his injury,' Tony Russ, Leicester's director of rugby, said.

Good news for the Tigers, here playing in unfamiliar red jerseys, but not so funny for a Newcastle side faced with a return to the Second Division. 'We need to make up the points difference on Bath,' Russ said. It stood at 49 before the start and Richards and the rest took him at his word. Second in the table to the champions and the big Courage crunch coming at the Rec early next month, the Tigers went bounding away with the breeze at their backs and it was the two flying wings, Steve Hackney and Tony Underwood, who took the breath away.

Hackney began the rout in the second minute with a try on the left tacked on the end of a heavyweight 25-yard driving maul. Two minutes later, Hackney kicked ahead, Tim Penn was caught in possession and Neil Back fed the England A man for another run to the line.

Harris now added a penalty to an earlier conversion and then it was Underwood's turn, Hackney sending him over before a blindside run off a scrum spirited him 25 yards to the left corner. Harris concluded the half with the conversion and another when Back was put away by Underwood, who completed his hat-trick eight minutes after the interval. Graham Rowntree and the debutant centre Richard Robinson joined in the feast.

Underwood, who could return to the England team should Ian Hunter's hamstring fail its Wednesday test, struck for a fourth time and all that remained was for Back to score the 10th try and complete Leicester's record league win. The only thing missing was a contribution on the score sheet from Richards. Still, welcome back.

Leicester: Tries Underwood 4, Hackney 2, Back 2, Rowntree, Robinson; Conversions: Harris 5; Penalties Harris 2. Newcastle Gosforth: Try Wilkinson.

Leicester: W Kilford; S Hackney, L Boyle (N Malone, 47), R Robinson, T Underwood; J Harris, A Kardooni; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, T Smith, M Poole, J Wells, D Richards (capt), N Back.

Newcastle Gosforth: I Chandler; D Casado, R Wilkinson, M Tetlow, T Penn; D Johnson (capt), S Douglas; M Fraser, A Hetherington, P Vanzandvleit, R Metcalfe, F Mitchell, R Arnold, M Corry, R Hoole.

Referee: S Lander (Irby, Wirral).