Round-up: Flood reigns over Exeter endeavour

 

Toby Flood booted Leicester up to second place in the Premiership when he landed four penalties as the Tigers edged Exeter 12-9 in a kicking contest in Devon.

Exeter's Gareth Steenson opened the scoring with a penalty after 10 minutes, and matched Flood until the break. The Sandy Park pitch had withstood heavy rain, but in a gruelling match Flood, leading Leicester for the first time, left Exeter with only a losing bonus point.

Exeter started well enough, but Leicester's powerful pack gradually tipped the balance and the home side did well to hold the visitors at bay. In the end it was a Flood break that drew the vital transgression from Italy's captain, Martin Castrogiovanni, and Leicester's captain for the day did the rest.

At the foot of the table, London Irish pushed the prospect of relegation far into the background with a 26-6 triumph at home to Worcester. A crowd of 19,523 made their way through the unseasonally cold weather to the Madejski Stadium in search of a celebration, but that had more to do with the annual St Patrick's Day bash than any expectation of thrilling rugby. If sights were set low, it was just as well.

The Exiles did claim three tries – through Matt Garvey, Halini Aulika and Chris Hafa'ufia – but all came as a result of driving line-outs.

With wing David Lemi left out in the cold waiting in vain for a pass, Worcester Warriors were always on the back foot, relying on one of Andy Goode's boots to get on the scoreboard at all.

Irish took the lead after 10 minutes when they drove over from a line-out on the Worcester 22, Garvey getting the touchdown. The Warriors did manage to haul down another Irish drive, albeit illegally, 10 minutes later, but then Irish drove Aulika over from close range. Tom Homer missed the conversions but did land two penalties, matched by Goode, to leave Irish 16-6 ahead at the break.

Soon after the restart, another Irish line-out drive led to a scrum and Hala'ufia powered over. Homer converted and added a penalty.

Scotland inflicted more disappointment on England at the Hong Kong Sevens but their 14-5 victory brought only bragging rights, with both sides consigned to the Bowl competition after finishing as the bottom two in Group C. Portugal won the group despite losing 22-7 to England. Wales reached the last eight as Group A winners despite losing their final group match 31-0 to South Africa.

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