Tolkienesque Waldrom gives Leicester look of European lords

Leicester 46 Scarlets 10

There are 24 teams in the Heineken Cup. No more than a fortnight into the tournament, it is transparently clear that two-thirds of them are making up the numbers. Leinster and Munster are obvious title contenders; as ever, Toulouse and Biarritz also have a legitimate interest, as do Clermont Auvergne. Ospreys? They are just about relevant. Racing Metro? No one quite knows, and until the French league leaders put their first XV on the field, they will remain a mystery. As for the rest, forget it. The rest, that is, except the usual suspects from Leicester. Once again, Leicester will summon the furies of hell and see where those furies take them.

Welford Road was an absolute bear pit yesterday: between them, the Tigers' coaches Richard Cockerill and Matt O'Connor generated more heat and noise than 82,000 England supporters ever produce at Twickenham, and even if the visitors had been tougher, nastier and less weak-minded than Scarlets, they would still have found it a scary place to be.

The Welshmen are fast building a reputation as one of the best counter-attacking sides in Europe, but as they had no way of countering the Leicester pack in any phase of the forward game anywhere on the field, their opportunities to attack could be counted on the fingers of one hand. If they suffer a worse hiding than this any time soon, they will be within their rights to ask the almighty what it is he has against them.

At the heart of the Midlanders' exceptional performance was Thomas Waldrom, their summer signing from All Black country. A useful career as a Super 14 back-rower with the Canterbury Crusaders, who win that elite competition at least as often as not, is testament to his powers, but it is doubtful whether the Christchurch faithful ever witnessed a better performance than the one he delivered here.

The try he scored eight minutes into the second half was the icing on the cake, but as Ben Youngs was largely responsible for it – the scrum-half's tap-and-go routine resulted in what might be described as a parting of the Scarlet Sea – it is reasonable to suggest that the accuracy of his offloading and the physicality of his work at close quarters gave the newcomer more satisfaction.

Somehow, Waldrom cuts a Tolkienesque figure. Not exactly a midget at 6ft on the button, he is far from the most vertically blessed of No 8s – indeed, he looks wider than he is tall – and while there is no sign of a long beard or a pointy hat, still less an axe, there is definitely a whiff of the Misty Mountains about him. What is more, he enjoys a bit of "how's your father" if any of the opposition are daft enough to start mixing it. Where was Lord of the Rings filmed, again? That's right. New Zealand.

With the Argentinian prop Marcos Ayerza and the Argentina-born Italian prop Martin Castrogiovanni operating in Waldrom's slipstream and the supremely athletic Tom Croft continuing his uncanny impersonation of the young Lawrence Dallaglio by materialising in parts of the field other loose forwards seldom reach, the cumulative effect was overpowering. The Scarlets forwards fronted up in ones and twos – Rob McCusker worked his socks off in the first 40 minutes; Josh Turnbull earned his spurs during the second – but they needed to do things by the legion just to give themselves a puncher's chance. By the end, they were a rabble. The end of the first half-hour, that is.

All things considered, the England stand-off Toby Flood enjoyed something of an armchair ride on his second appearance of the season. (He ended his first, at Northampton on the opening day of the Premiership campaign, with a mangled left knee.) Watched by a trio of England coaches – John Wells, Brian Smith and Graham Rowntree, former Tigers all, were in attendance, looking very stern and uncompromising in that uniquely Leicesterish way – he occasionally betrayed a touch of ring-rust. Generally speaking, though, he played with considerable imagination while bringing shape and tempo to his back division.

"It helps to come back on a nice sunny day, under a blue sky, with the forwards in that kind of mood," he said. "Whatever adjustments the International Rugby Board make to the refereeing of the tackle area – and I think I'll be well into retirement by the time they finally decide what they want – we'll always do our best to make it a contest. If we can't put hands on the ball at the breakdown, we'll do it another way." Whatever approach they take, they never seem to stop swamping, or swarming all over, the opposition.

As for the question of who will wear the No 10 shirt when England take on New Zealand in a little under three weeks' time, Flood was unwilling to be drawn. He is the incumbent, and there were mutterings from the England hierarchy just recently that they want him to stay that way, but Jonny Wilkinson's form for Toulon has been decent enough and public opinion will demand that a proper discussion be had.

"I keep myself distant from all that," said Flood. "If I didn't, I'd spend my life reading the newspapers, looking over my shoulder and wondering what's going on. Jonny is enjoying his rugby in France, and when he's enjoying life, he plays some terrific stuff. Me? I'll just concentrate on my own game."

Quite what the Scarlets should concentrate on is anyone's guess. "That was a big, big lesson for us," admitted their coach, Nigel Davies, who fully realises that success in this competition depends on a pack willing and able to stand up to the things the Leicesters of this world throw at them. The visitors' early try from deep was a beautiful construction, with Turnbull, Sean Lamont, Regan King and then Morgan Stoddart all doing the right thing at the right moment. But once Castrogiovanni answered in more prosaic style five minutes later, the contest moved inexorably into "dead parrot" territory. For Scarlets, read Norwegian Blue.

Leicester: Tries Croft 2, Castrogiovanni, Youngs, Waldrom, Smith; Conversions Flood 5; Penalties Flood 2. Scarlets: Try Stoddart; Conversion Jones; Penalty Jones.

Leicester G Murphy (capt); S Hamilton, M Smith, A Allen (M Tuilagi 59), A Tuilagi; T Flood (W Twelvetrees 72), B Youngs (J Grindal 55); M Ayerza (B Stankovich 63), G Chuter (J Duffy 76), M Castrogiovanni (D Cole 55), E Slater, G Skivington, T Croft (S Mafi 67), C Newby (B Woods 63), T Waldrom.

Scarlets R Priestland; M Stoddart, G Maule, R King (S Williams 70), S Lamont; S Jones, M Roberts (T Knoyle 51); I Thomas (R Jones 70), M Rees (capt, K Owens 63), R Thomas (D Manu 40+1), L Reed, V Cooper (J Edwards 59), J Turnbull, R McCusker, D Lyons (D Welch 67).

Referee G Clancy (Ireland).

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice