After his team's 42-15 win at home to Newcastle yesterday, Richard Cockerill, the Leicester director of rugby, said: “You have to take the result in context of the ambition of the opposition.”
Taken in the context of Newcastle being six points adrift at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership and looking towards an important home game against Harlequins on Friday, and the win having taken Leicester up to third, that would mean that a five-try, 40-point win should have been the least the Tigers expected.
That wasn't what Cockerill, being a wholly respectful sort – towards other hardworking rugby clubs, teams and coaches if not, occasionally, the authorities – meant to say. He added: "Newcastle race to the line and make the breakdown quite hard, and I was delighted with how we coped with that. George Ford ran the show well at fly-half, Billy Twelvetrees was strong in the centres and it is pleasing that we can play that well with so many back-line players missing."
Twelvetrees, Niall Morris and Horacio Agulla scored one try each for Leicester and the No 8 Thomas Waldrom scored two. Ford, the 19-year-old son of Newcastle's defence coach, Mike Ford, kicked four conversions and three penalties. Jon Golding and Richard Mayhew scored second-half tries for Newcastle and Jimmy Gopperth kicked a conversion and a penalty.
Newcastle's director of rugby, Gary Gold, said: "This was our worst performance by a country mile and I am very disappointed by what I saw out there.
"When the penalty count is 12-4 against us and we have two yellow cards to none from Leicester it is tough to take."
In the later kick-offs, Bath squeezed out a tremendously valuable and, in terms of the result if not the number of tries scored, rather impressive 12-9 win at Exeter. Tom Heathcote kicked four penalties to three by Ignacio Mieres to halt Exeter's recent upward mobility and arrest Bath's slide in the other direction.
There was a shock of sorts at Kingsholm too, where Gloucester beat Harlequins 27-23. Charlie Sharples, in the England squad but unable to get a game, scored the Cherry and Whites' first try and Jonny May and Akapusi Qera scored numbers two and three. The full-back Ross Chisholm scored both Quins' tries; Freddie Burns kicked 12 points for Gloucester and Nick Evans kicked 13 for Quins.
The upshot of all that for the table is that Exeter have fallen back to seventh, Bath are eighth, Gloucester are nicely placed in fifth and Quins are still first, despite now having lost three times.
There was also business yesterday in the Celtic league that is also a bit Italian – Glasgow drew with Leinster 10-10 at Firhill, the South African prop Heinke van der Merwe scoring the only conventional try of the game – the Scottish "pro-team" being awarded a penalty try – for the Irish province. As a result, Leinster are 11 points clear at the top of the RaboDirect Pro12 and Glasgow are fourth.
In the women's Six Nations' Championship match that was staged at Twickenham after the men's game, England beat Wales 33-0. The Wasps wing Michaela Staniford scored two of England's six tries and the Richmond lock Rowena Burfield was named player of the match. England, habitual champions, have won three games out of three and must now beat France and Ireland for the Grand Slam.
- More about:
- Guinness Premiership
- Harlequin FC
- Harlequins (rugby)
- Newcastle Upon Tyne