Flood keeps Tigers on right track

Worcester 13 Leicester 32

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The Independent Online

A new year may be on the horizon but it looks like being a similar story for the Leicester faithful despite a disastrous start to the season.

Leicester challenge for honours year in, year out, and 2012 isn't destined to be any different if this bonus-point victory over struggling Worcester is anything to go by.

A comfortable success at Sixways lifted Leicester to within a point of a play-off place less than three months after they slumped to a fifth defeat in their first six Premiership fixtures.

Toby Flood inspired the Tigers to an eighth win in 10 since they welcomed back their hefty World Cup contingent and their director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, is convinced his side are now well and truly on the right track.

"The World Cup was very hard for us. We had 12 guys missing, plus injuries and we had to bite our lips and take some medicine. But we've kept our bottle and we're turning it around," said Cockerill, whose day was dampened by hamstring injuries to England duo Manu Tuilagi and Louis Deacon.

"It's all up for grabs now. Bar the bottom two, anybody could be in that third and fourth play-off spot. We've just got to keep winning and trying to knock the points off. Worcester has always been a hard place for us to come and play, so I'm delighted to win here and the bonus point was exactly that."

Leicester had the game sewn up inside 25 minutes as Flood showed his class. The England fly-half set up Matt Smith's fourth-minute try with a clever inside break before a similar burst saw him touch down himself 20 minutes later. It prompted the Worcester coach, Richard Hill, to admit the gamehad been over before it had really begun.

Flood converted both tries from just to the left of the posts – with a long-range penalty sandwiched in between – and although Joey Carlisle finally put Worcester on the scoreboard with a 31st-minute penalty, a needless indiscretion from No 8 Chris Jones made Worcester's task even tougher just before the break. Jones saw yellow for pulling down Ben Woods at a Leicester line-out and Flood slotted home the resulting penalty to make it 20-3 at half time.

Worcester threatened a comeback early in the second period as Carlisle struck an immediate penalty before Marcel Garvey dived over for a well-worked team score on 55 minutes. It was a gutsy response but Leicester soon put them back in their place with a try from Deacon.

With the game having been dead as a contest after Oliver Tomaszczyk's stupid yellow card on 71 minutes, Horacio Agulla collected his own deft chip and chase to hand the Tigers the full five points and a little extra festive cheer.

Scorers Worcester: Try Garvey; Con version Carlisle; Penalties Carlisle (2); Leicester: Tries Smith, Flood, Deacon, Agulla; Conversions Flood (3); Penalties Flood (2).

Worcester Pennell; Garvey, Grove (Fatiaki, 62), Rasmussen, Benjamin; Carlisle (Goode, 62), Perry (Arr, 51); Mullan, Shervington (Lutui, 58), Taumoepeau (Tomaszczyk, 62), Percival, Gillies, Betty (Douglas, 79), Abbott (Kvesic, 58), Jones. Replacement not used Gulliver.

Leicester Hamilton; Agulla, Tuilagi (Morris, 69), Twelvetrees, Smith; Flood, Youngs; Stankovich (Castrogiovanni, 51), Chuter, Cole, Deacon (Mafi, 76), Slater, Croft, Woods (Salvi, 58), Waldrom. Replacements not used Hawkins, White, Young, Staunton.

Referee J Doyle (RFU).