Toby Flood finds his range to help Tigers shoot down Ospreys

Leicester 39 Ospreys 22

Welford Road

So it's true: Leicester do indeed play their rugby on a Subbuteo pitch. When Toby Flood, the England outside-half, lined up a penalty shot from fully 57 metres at a critical juncture of a game that had spun on its axis from the opening minutes, the smart money said he would fall short by plenty. The smart money was wrong. Flood not only nailed his kick, tilting the contest decisively towards his side in the process – he absolutely creamed it. Never before had he struck a ball so far in a match situation.

Generously, Flood credited the manufacturer's product rather than his own formidable hoofing power. "Everyone likes the balls we're using in these games: they fly and travel so well that it's always in the back of your mind that you might have four or five extra metres in the bank," he said.

"I remember kicking a long one for Newcastle against Leicester back in the day, but this one was probably my best in terms of distance."

Over the last fortnight, the great and good of England's biggest club have been in an advanced state of collective apoplexy over the decision of the 2015 World Cup organisers to reject Welford Road as a venue, primarily on what might be called "ground grounds" – or, to put it another way, because they feel the pitch is too small. The Midlanders are so infuriated by this unexpected slap in the face, they have managed to get the issue raised in the House of Commons. Flood's feat yesterday, astonishing as it was, may not have helped their argument.

There was more to this compelling piece of Heineken Cup theatre than mere feet and inches, however, for the two sides were perfectly matched, in emotional firepower as well as weaponry of the physical kind. The hosts, pointless after their first-round defeat in Toulouse, needed a victory – any sort of victory – to stay afloat, while Ospreys, the best side in Wales and phantoms of long standing in the Leicester psyche, left Swansea confident in their ability to land a sickening blow on their opponents and confirm their own candidacy as serious title contenders as a consequence.

For almost half an hour they did pretty much everything right, with Ashley Beck freeing Hanno Dirksen up the right with a sweet pass off the left hand. Dirksen was hit fast and hard, but a surge from his forwards took him all the way to the line, where Ryan Jones capitalised with a short-range touchdown. Dan Biggar, who kicked every bit as well as Flood, landed the conversion and added a penalty from halfway to open up a 10-point lead.

Had it not been for Dan Cole's authority at the set-piece, Leicester might not have recovered. The England tight-head prop was inspired by the close proximity of Adam Jones, his most obvious rival for a Lions Test place against Australia next summer, and emerged as the clear winner in the grunt-and-groan department: he scrummaged Ryan Bevington into the cooler after 34 minutes and when the Wales international was substituted nine minutes after the break – by then, his inability to absorb the pressure applied by the Leicester man was transparently obvious – the demolition job was complete.

"In England terms, Dan is the number one," said Richard Cockerill, the Leicester coach and a Test front-rower of yore, in tones that brooked no argument. "There's no one close to him. I can't think of a more important player for England at the moment. And to be fair, I think that's the case here at Leicester too. It's taken Dan a while to get the big starts ahead of Martin Castrogiovanni, but he's there now."

Strange to relate, Leicester did not find themselves in clear blue water until long after Cole's departure. But thanks to their scrummager-in-chief, they had found a way of subduing the Ospreys' forward effort and laid the foundations for victory – not least by providing scrum half Ben Youngs plenty of front-foot ball. It was Youngs who found Manu Tuilagi with the scoring pass for Leicester's opening try, following significant contributions from Flood and the powerhouse Fijian wing Vereniki Goneva, and he was at the heart of the attacking waves that threatened to wash Ospreys away in the minutes after the interval.

But for Biggar's accuracy from the tee the Midlanders would have been home free by the hour mark, but the Welsh stand-off's regular penalty successes kept his side all square at 19-apiece moving into the last quarter.

Then came Flood's penalty from the back end of beyond and when the same player intercepted Biggar's long pass just inside his own half and outpaced the cover to finish at the sticks, the argument was over. All that interested Leicester now was the possibility of a try-scoring bonus, and their Tongan flanker Steve Mafi turned it into reality.

First, the rangy blind-side specialist somehow made sense of a frenzied, error-strewn few seconds of high rugby comedy to send Youngs scampering away for try number three. Then, he showed strength in staying infield despite the attentions of half of West Wales, thereby handing Tuilagi the opportunity to top and tail things in the 80th minute, only for Flood to then hit the post. On this day, he can be forgiven.

Leicester: Tries Tuilagi 2, Flood, B Youngs; Conversions Flood 2; Penalties Flood 5. Ospreys: Try R Jones; Conversion Biggar; Penalties Biggar 5.

Leicester S Hamilton; N Morris, M Tuilagi, A Allen, V Goneva (M Smith, 64); T Flood, B Youngs; L Mulipola (M Ayerza, 49), T Youngs, D Cole (M Castrogiovanni, 53), G Kitchener (L Deacon, 53), G Parling, S Mafi, T Waldrom, J Crane (capt).

Ospreys R Fussell; H Dirksen, A Bishop, A Beck, E Walker; D Biggar, K Fotuali'i (R Webb 70); R Bevington (D Jones, 49), R Hibbard, A Jones, A-W Jones, I Evans, R Jones, J Tipuric, J Thomas (J Bearman, 54). Referee: R Poite (France)

Suggested Topics
News
peopleTop Gear presenter and all-round controversialist is at it again
Life & Style
techHow a 'grey brick' took over the world of portable gaming
Sport
Aaron Ramsey celebrates after opening the scoring in Arsenal's win over Hull `
sport
News
peopleActress speaks out against historic sexual assault claims, saying things have 'gone quite far now'

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Coren Mitchell, who is the daughter of the late broadcaster Alan Coren and is married to comedian David Mitchell, produced a hand to make poker history at the 98th EPT main event.
peopleJournalist and TV presenter becomes first ever two-time winner of the European Poker Tour
Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Life & Style
Guests enjoy food and cocktail parings by Chefs Jimmy Bannos, Jimmy Bannos Jr, Daniel Rose and Mindy Segal with mixologists Josh King and Alex Gara at Bounty & Barrel: A Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Dinner Series at Heaven on Seven on April 9, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
food + drinkSprinkle Palcohol 'on almost any dish' for 'an extra kick' firm says...
Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
tvReview: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
politicsLabour launches the 'completely hollow' Easter Clegg
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
sport Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Arts & Entertainment
Last, but by no means least, is Tommy Cooper and the fez. This style of hat became a permanent trademark of his act.
comedyNot Like That, Like This centres on alleged domestic abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players