Thompstone leads charge as Tigers roar back in style

Leicester Tigers 30 Exeter Chiefs 8: Wing marks his first start with a hat-trick to inspire injury-hit Leicester to roll over Chiefs

welford road

As much as Leicester had been chastened by the previous week's defeat by Harlequins here, they were entitled to pat themselves on the back at the response. Though not quite down to the last man standing, the nine-times former champions had a first team's-worth of players out injured or otherwise unavailable yet smashed any thoughts of Exeter adding to the league double achieved by the Chiefs last season.

Leicester's scrum and driving maul were in witheringly good working order and at fly-half Toby Flood was able to get away with a couple of duff passes in the first half to provide enough assured and skilful touches to help create a hat-trick of tries for the wing Adam Thompstone, who was promoted to his first start for Leicester when Scott Hamilton pulled out with a dodgy quad.

The 25-year-old Thompstone joined from London Irish in the summer after an injury-disrupted four years of 17 tries in 62 appearances, and promptly damaged a disc in his neck in a pre-season friendly in Jersey. In that sense he may have felt an immediate sense of belonging, as the Tigers have an injury list as long as a lock-forward's arm.

"There were opportunities we didn't take but considering the issues we've had with withdrawals we're pleased," said Richard Cockerill, Leicester's director of rugby. "Everyone is quick to praise Exeter when they have done well, but we played well and our defence stopped them playing." Hamilton and the front-rowers George Chuter (calf) and Boris Stankovich ("being ill at both ends," Cockerill graphically reported) were the late cry-offs.

Daniel Bowden, another former London Irishman making his first Leicester appearance in the crucial inside-centre role, went off with rib trouble, and the flanker Julian Salvi was substituted after a bang on the head. On the flipside Ben Youngs, Steve Mafi and Manu Tuilagi are due back at Sale next Friday, while Mathew Tait will play for the A team tomorrow. That still leaves Tom Croft, Geordan Murphy, Louis Deacon, Rob Hawkins and Ed Slater among the crocks, Marcos Ayerza away with Argentina and of course the most unfortunate – Craig Newby and Ben Woods – who retired before a ball was passed.

Exeter struggled to generate any worthwhile momentum. Cockerill's counterpart, Rob Baxter, tends to meet triumph and disaster with a Roger Moore raise of the eyebrow but even he was obliged to question the latest confusing application of the television match official trial.

The Chiefs' fly-half, Ignacio Mieres, was blatantly tackled off the ball by Tom Waldrom in the run-up to Thompstone's second try in the 46th minute, but the TMO checked only for a Leicester knock-on.

"All the coaches are looking at it [the TMO trial] and shaking their heads," said Baxter. "But I'm not going to run away from the result and make excuses. Our set-piece wasn't good enough and we coughed up ball on the floor."

The Leicester centre Matt Smith got engaged on Friday, but Monday had been different: an old-fashioned dressing-down from the coaches followed by what he called "pretty fierce" training.

The desired reaction came after six minutes when from a line-out on the Leicester 10-metre line the Tigers went through multiple phases, Bowden filled in at scrum-half and Flood, Vereniki Goneva and Waldrom sent Thompstone streaking in at the right-hand corner. With Flood's conversion – he added the extras to Thompstone's other tries too – it had Leicester 7-3 up after an initial penalty by Mieres.

Tom Johnson, the England flanker back for Exeter after a rib injury, ran hard and straight as always but Mieres was unlucky to miss with two monstrous penalty attempts.

Flood's three kicks from shorter range created a 13-point gap at the interval. The third of them was Cockerill's call overruling the England fly-half; Flood had put the ball into touch for an attacking line-out but the coach had already ordered the kicking tee on to the field.

In a tighter match it might have produced a tasty row but Leicester merely cantered onwards, when a fluffed Exeter line-out led to Mieres's controversial moment with Waldrom, from which Flood brilliantly flicked the ball up with the outside of his right boot to Smith, who fed Thompstone via Bowden.

All Exeter hopes went west when Mieres overdid a kick to touch to make it dead, and Chris Whitehead overthrew a well-placed line-out. With 15 minutes remaining Leicester swept left to right, with Flood involved, for Smith to grubber nicely through the Exeter line and Thompstone to gather and race to the posts. Ben White's burrowing try for Exeter at the death took up another three minutes of TMO time that would been better spent celebrating Thompstone as the eighth Tiger to score a hat-trick on his first start and only the second in 77 years after Marika Vunibaka's in 1997.

Leicester Morris; Thompstone, Smith, Bowden (Allen, 49), Goneva; Flood (Ford, 66), Harrison (Phibbs, 66); Mulipola (Balmain, 66), Youngs (Stevens, 71), Cole (Castrogiovanni, 59), Kitchener, Parling, Crane (capt; Slater, 61), Waldrom, Salvi (Deacon, 38).

Exeter Arscott; Whitten, Naqelevuki, Shoemark (Dollman, 65), Jess; Mieres (Steenson, 66), Thomas (Chudley, 50); Sturgess (Moon, 61), Whitehead (Alcott, 66), Rimmer (Brown, 77), Hayes (capt), Hanks (Muldowney, 56), Johnson (White, 61), Baxter, Scaysbrook.

Referee T Wrigglesworth (Yorkshire).

Attendance 19,292.

Leicester

Tries: Thompstone 3

Cons: Flood 3

Pens: Flood 3

Exeter

Try: White

Pen: Mieres

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis