Twelvetrees helps Tigers cut the Irish down to size

London Irish 14 Leicester Tigers 23: Champions' pack smashes a path for stand-in at stand-off to keep it simple in search of away win

The anecdotal buzz around the game is that the scrummage is a neutered weapon; a simple restart at best and more often just a mess. It may be true there are fewer put-ins these days but Leicester made a nonsense of the received wisdom here, making merry hell for London Irish almost every time the packs went down and earning an emblematic penalty try to settle the result, four minutes from the end.

Given that the Tigers made monkeys of their opposition at the line-out too, it was a red letter day for the champions at the set pieces. Irish had been one of the most effective scrummaging teams in the opening weeks of the season but they were a distant second-best in losing at Northampton in their previous match and they have now suffered five defeats on the trot in all competitions. Richard Cockerill, the Leicester head coach, summed it up: "In the fundamentals of the game we were better than them."

Both sides were mindful of re-introducing players who had been playing internationals throughout November; Leicester had done without 10 absentees and two, England's Tom Croft and Toby Flood, were unfit to return. Still, that is what a squad is for and Leicester's is stronger than most. They have had a tough run on the road but they have collected bonus points at Wasps, Saracens and Gloucester. This third win on the trot pushed them above Irish and into second place behind Northampton.

Pity Chris Hala'Ufia, the London Irish No 8 who was obliged to put in a tough shift, picking up at the base. The Tongan never relented but he must have envied the comparative serenity of Billy Twelvetrees, the temporary Leicester fly-half. More regularly a centre, Twelvetrees did little more than the basics but he did them well, kicking three penalties in the first 20 minutes to place a firm boot on Irish's throat.

Opposite Twelvetrees, the skittish Ryan Lamb pushed the boundaries with his long touch-finders and risky passes. One lusty fling almost hit a post, which would have put Topsy Ojo in a terrible spot. Lamb, whose 39th-minute penalty cut Leicester's lead to six points at half-time, was not alone in his questionable decision-making. The hooker Brian Blaney had been on the field a few seconds – David Paice suffered a suspected broken ankle – when Irish chose a complicated line-out move, Kieran Roche darting to the front. Leicester had prepared to do damage in this area and Craig Newby picked off the throw like an apple from a tree.

"This game's about momentum and if you can't keep possession for periods of time you can't sustain pressure," said Toby Booth, Irish's head coach. "We're disappointed for ourselves and our fans, because parts of that were pretty ordinary." They had five penalties in the Leicester 22 without much reward and the breakdown did not go as they had hoped, either.

Hala'Ufia's crash-ball run in support of a break by Jonathan Joseph helped create a try for Ojo five minutes into the second half, during a lean spell for Leicester; a nicely judged sand wedge of a chip by Lamb bounced perfectly for the wing to score at the right corner. But Leicester responded within nine minutes, building on a driving maul and pick and goes in the Irish 22. At first, a four-on-two overlap on the left went unused, but the numerical advantage remained and after the play went one way and back the other Geordan Murphy foxed Ojo with a dummied pass before sending the flanker Thomas Waldrom over for the try.

Twelvetrees converted and though Irish fought hard, with a starry trio of replacements in Steffon Armitage, Seilala Mapusua and Sailosi Tagicakibau scattering Tigers in a couple of exciting movements, they could earn no more than two penalties by Lamb after 63 and 71 minutes and Leicester led 16-14.

The almost inevitable came to pass as Leicester packed down in the Irish 22, after a knock-on. A penalty for collapsing might been kicked but the Tigers knew what they wanted. They scrummaged again, clattering towards the line for what would have been pushover try if Mr Pearson had not jogged to the posts, arm raised. Twelvetrees' conversion came with a cry of "timber" as Irish's unbeaten home record in the league fell.

London Irish D Armitage; T Ojo (S Tagicakibau, 66), E Seveali'i, D Bowden (S Mapusua, 55), J Joseph; R Lamb, P Hodgson; C Dermody (capt; A Corbisiero, 66), D Paice (B Blaney, 17), F Rautenbach (P Ion, 55), N Kennedy, K Roche (M Garvey, 55), G Stowers (S Armitage, 61), C Hala'Ufia, R Thorpe.

Leicester Tigers G Murphy (capt; M Tuilagi, 77); S Hamilton, M Smith, A Allen, A Tuilagi; B Twelvetrees, B Youngs; M Ayerza, G Chuter, D Cole (M Castrogiovanni, 61), L Deacon (E Slater, 78), G Skivington, T Waldrom (S Mafi, 74), J Crane, C Newby.

Referee D Pearson (Northumberland).

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
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

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little