Hamilton seals bonus point for rampant Tigers

Viadana 11 Leicester 46
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The Independent Online

Scott Hamilton scored a hat-trick as Leicester secured a valuable bonus-point victory in Italy. In doing so, the former All Black wing, who was playing at full-back, inflicted more misery on Viadana, who, in their 14th campaign, are yet to register their first victory in Europe's premier competition.

In truth, the scoreline was harsh on the hosts, but the Tigers, inspired by Hamilton, showed their pedigree in the final quarter to stride away, restoring their confidence following their get-out-of-jail-draw with the Ospreys at home last weekend.

No doubt the Tigers' head coach, Richard Cockerill, would have made sure that such a wake-up call at Welford Road was still ringing in his players' ears as they entered the fray in Northern Italy. And the two-time European champions heeded Cockerill's warnings with a lightning start on the outskirts of Parma, inside the opening 10 minutes.

Jeremy Staunton opened the scoring with a close-range penalty in the fifth minute before the Guinness Premiership giants galloped clear thanks to Johne Murphy's second try in as many weeks. The Leicester scrum-half, James Grindal, combined with Staunton and Hamilton to give the Irish wing the simplest of tasks in the right corner. Staunton may have missed the conversion but Cockerill could not have asked for a more positive start from his team.

Leicester had the Italy prop Martin Castrogiovanni and the England back-rowers Jordan Crane and Lewis Moody to thank for their stirring start. But the Italian club, buoyed by a passionate home crowd, soon began to make a decent fist of the contest. The New Zealand-born Italy winger Kaine Robertson showed glimpses of his ability on the right, in front of the watching Italy head coach, Nick Mallett.

The fly-half Pierre Hola got the home side on to the scoreboard with a penalty and the deficit should have been reduced further – the full-back, Garry Law, dragged a long-range effort to the right of the posts before Hola saw an ambitious drop-goal attempt fly wide.

The Italian club kept coming, however, with wave upon wave of attack, and their ambition was rewarded with an equalising try in the 26th minute. Hola's cross-kick allowed Robertson to beat Lucas Amorosino to the high ball and, after waltzing past Hamilton, the wing touched down to scenes of wild jubilation among the home crowd. Hola converted.

In true champion fashion, though, the visitors hit back almost immediately, through Hamilton. Grindal fended off a tackle from the prop Miguel Alonso and Amorosino's inside pass allowed Hamilton to coast home for a try under the posts which was converted by Staunton.

It was an emphatic response from Leicester and the British Lions flanker Tom Croft added a third Tigers try on 36 minutes, shrugging off tackles from three defenders to touch down with ease.

With Leicester's penalty count approaching double figures, Hola made no mistake after 53 minutes to make it 22-11. Crane was then shown a yellow card, in the 63rd minute, for tackling without the ball. That set up a nervy final quarter, but in the end Leicester eased home and increased the margin of their win with tries from Hamilton and Amorosino and a late penalty try.

Viadana G Law; K Robertson, M Harvey, S Cox, M Pratichetti; P Hola, P Canavosio; M Alonso (L Milani, 71), R Santamaria, I Elosu, S Hohneck (C Del Fava, 56), Q Geldenhuys (capt), A Benatti, G Quinnell, A Persico (J Sole, 47).

Leicester S Hamilton; J Murphy, A Allen, B Twelvetrees, L Amorosino; J Staunton (M Smith, 46), J Grindal (B Youngs, 48); B Stankovich (M Ayerza, 58), G Chuter (J Duffey, 67), M Castrogiovanni (J White, 67), L Deacon (capt) (R Blaze, 20-26), G Parling (R Blaze, 58), T Croft, J Crane, L Moody (B Deacon, 64).

Referee: P Gauzere (France).