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
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

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

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album