Croft injury setback proves blow for club and country

Leicester 47 Viadana 8

The Heineken glass was not so much half-full or half-empty as a little cracked for Richard Cockerill, and for Martin Johnson, at Welford Road. With a five-try flurry in the first half and then a scoring drought until a two-try flourish in the final nine minutes, Cockerill's Leicester reached the top of Pool Three ahead of their date with the Ospreys and European Cup destiny in Swansea next Saturday.

They got there with Julian White back on coal-face duty for the last 23 minutes, with Sam Vesty making his first start of the season, and with Toby Flood in the finest of prompting and place-kicking form at fly-half. Not that all of the pluses for club and for country could quite make up for the big minus of the damage done to Tom Croft's left knee.

The Tigers, England and British and Irish Lions' blindside flanker had only resumed back-row action the previous Saturday, playing in the final quarter of the Premiership win against Wasps, after five weeks out with a medial ligament injury to the same part of his 6ft 5in frame. Against Viadana, he was making his first start since 28 November and he never came close to finishing, cutting a picture of some distress as he was helped from the field with 26 minutes on the clock. The full extent of the damage will be determined by a scan today but the bad news for Leicester and England is that they can reckon without Croft until at least the back end of February. The Basingstoke boy will be out of the selection equation for the big Anglo-Welsh confrontation at the Liberty Stadium this coming Saturday and for the even bigger one at Twickenham on day one of the Six Nations, 6 February.

"He's done the same knee that he did in November," Cockerill, Leicester's head coach, reported. "It's the same injury, medial knee ligaments. That took five weeks. This will be similar." Which happens to be a big blow to England, someone suggested. "That's of no interest to me," Cockerill retorted. "He'll be out for next week, which is the interest for me."

The former England hooker might have been reading from the same script he delivered at the Madejski Stadium in October when White suffered a torn hamstring against London Irish, which kept the veteran tighthead prop out of action until he was summoned from bench duty to replace the red-hot Dan Cole in the final quarter on Saturday. It will take a little more time, and a lot stronger opposition, before it becomes clear whether the Devon farmer has the fitness and form required for national service.

As for Flood, though, two months into his comeback, the former Newcastle Falcon is firing on all cylinders. As well as a try and couple of tidy scoring assists, he landed five conversions out of five – making it a full glass of an afternoon for at least one Tiger.

Leicester: Tries: Hipkiss 2, Woods, Flood, Hamilton 2, Mauger; Conversions Flood 5, Vesty. Viadana: Try Canavosio; Penalty Law.

Leicester: S Hamilton (J Murphy, 59); A Tuilagi, D Hipkiss, S Vesty, L Tuqiri; T Flood (A Mauger, 51), B Youngs (J Grindal, 57); M Ayerza (B Stankovich, 68), G Chuter, D Cole (J White, 57), L Deacon (capt), G Parling (L Moody, 59), T Croft (C Newby, 26), B Woods, J Crane.

Viadana: G Law; M Pratichetti, S Cox, L Johansson, M Sepe (S Pace, 43); P Hola, P Canavosio (M Wilson, 63); P Sciamanna (M Cagna, 62), L Ferraro (capt) (R Santamaria, 66), J Garcia (L Milani, 72), C Del Fava (G Krause, 54), S Hohneck, A Persico, A Benatti, J Erasmus.

Referee: J Jones (Wales).

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album