Leicester make heavy weather of it in absence of Flood

Treviso 29 Leicester 34
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The Independent Online

Leicester are hoping for some good news today about the availability of Toby Flood after just managing to avoid their worst European result without him. The England fly-half missed this game after failing a late fitness test on the knee that has kept him on the sidelines since the season's opening week.

He cannot return quickly enough for Leicester. They scored five tries to secure a bonus point but handling errors behind the scrum meant the prospect of several more bit the dust and, in the absence of a recognised goal-kicker, they were left to rely on a late score from Alesana Tuilagi to salvage victory.

The sigh of relief that greeted the Samoan's match-winning try three minutes from time could be heard back at Welford Road, where they face Scarlets on Saturday. Prop Martin Castrogiovanni said: "We made too many mistakes but we had the experience in the team, and a bit of luck."

Leicester could count their blessings at the final whistle after the bounce of the ball went their way. They were floundering in midfield after Tommaso Benvenuti followed two scintillating solo tries with a drop goal that looked set to clinch victory. However, Joe Maddock saw his kick to the corner bounce towards but in field from the touchline, allowing Scott Hamilton and Tom Croft to launch one last roll of the dice and, following a series of phases, Tuilagi surged over from some 30 metres out.

Matt Smith scored inside two minutes and Criag Newby followed, yet Leicester could not stamp their authority on the game as the lead repeatedly swapped hands. Castrogiovanni powerd over but it was another Italian, Benvenuti, who was the star, skipping past Tiger defenders with ease to score twice. Ben Youngs responded only for Treviso to hit back again, though there was not enough time for another reply after Tuilagi scored late.

Treviso: Tries T Benvenuti (2). Conversions K Burton (2). Penalties K Burton (3). Drop goals K Burton, T Benvenuti. Leicester: Tries M Smith, C Newby, M Castrogiovanni, B Youngs, A Tuilagi. Conversions: B Twelvetrees (3). Penalty B Twelvetrees.

Treviso: L McLean (J Maddock, 47); L Nitoglia, T Benvenuti, A Sgarbi, A Vilk; K Burton, F Semenzato; I Fernandez Rouyet (F Sbaraglini, 36), L Ghiraldini (D Vidal, 47), L Cittadini (P di Santo, 47), A Pavanello (capt, E Pavanello, 62), C van Zyl, R Barbieri, P Derbyshire, A Zanni.

Leicester G Murphy (capt); S Hamilton, H Agulla, M Smith, A Tuilagi; B Twelvetrees, B Youngs; B Stankovich, G Chuter (R Hawkins, 59), M Castrogiovanni (D Cole, 59), E Slater, G Skivington, T Croft, T Waldrom, C Newby.

Referee P Gauzère (France).