Leicester Tigers vs Scarlets match report: Tom Youngs double seals sweet revenge for Tigers to keep European Champions Cup hope alive

Leicester 40 Scarlets 23: Youngs comes off the replacements bench to bag a brace as Geoff Parling puts his hand up for selection against Wales in three weeks' time

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The Independent Online

When Leicester returned, defeated and just a little depressed, from the far-western wilds of Llanelli in October, they knew in their heart of hearts that their European Champions Cup campaign had been derailed.

That campaign is not wholly back on track, even though they made the Scarlets suffer for their impertinence with a six-try mauling in last night’s return fixture, but it is at least a going concern. Next weekend’s trip to Belfast, so often their graveyard, still has something on it.

After an inventive start from the visitors Leicester took charge up front and secured themselves a couple of penalty punts to touch that told an obvious tale: it would be a bonus-point victory or bust.

 

From the first of those attacking line-outs, the brick-outhouse Samoan prop Logovi’i Mulipola trampled Rhys Priestland into the East Midlands dirt, thereby allowing Freddie Burns, Adam Thompstone and Mathew Tait to work Miles Benjamin in at the left corner. Burns, the occasional England outside-half, converted extravagantly from the widest possible angle and repeated the trick from the other side of the pitch five minutes later when Jordan Crane was driven over from Tom Croft’s aerial delivery.

A bonus before the interval? It looked very much like it until Priestland rediscovered his equilibrium – is he really as fragile in the temperament department as some important people in Wales like to make out? – and set about freeing his backs with some wonderfully subtle footballing touches. Sure enough, the Welshmen were back in it by half-time, building on two early penalties with a close-range try from the loose-head prop Rob Evans, who bore the stamp of a Test front-rower in the making.

They would get no closer, though. With the lock  Graham Kitchener back on the field and running riot – he had been sent to the cooler for some illegal ball-killing shortly before Evans’ try – the Tigers pack applied the squeeze and did the necessary before the second half was more than a few minutes old. It was a  mirror image of what had gone before: sharp handling off sound first-phase ball, with Thompstone the beneficiary, followed by a maul-over try for Tom Youngs.

The Lions Test hooker, summoned from the bench 50 minutes in, crossed again five minutes later, working his way upfield in support of his significantly quicker brother Ben and accepting the fraternal inside pass with aplomb. Sam Harrison, on for Ben Youngs at scrum-half, also found his way over following a barnstorming run from the Italian back-rower Robert Barbieri.

Even though they had run out of ball, Scarlets had enough about them to score twice in reply, both times through the wing Harry Robinson. But the pummelling up front was more than they could bear and for all their wit, they finished well adrift.

Line-ups:

Leicester: M Tait; A Thompstone, V Goneva, S Bai, M Benjamin (M Smith 71); F Burns (O Williams 61), B Youngs (capt, S Harrison 61); M Rizzo (M Ayerza 50), L Ghiraldini (T Youngs 50), L Mulipola (F Balmain 55), B Thorn (G Kitchener 5), G Parling, T Croft, J Salvi (R Barbieri 61), J Crane.

Scarlets: J Williams (S Shingler 12); H Robinson, R King, S Williams (capt), H Parkes; R Priestland, A Davies; R Evans (W Jones 64), R Elias, P Edwards (J Adriaanse 53), J Ball, G Earle (L Rawlins 61), A Shingler, J Barclay (J Davies 56, D Harris 68), R McCusker (R Pitman 61).

Scorers: Leicester – Tries T Youngs 2, Benjamin, Crane, Thompstone, Harrison; Conversions Burns 4, Williams. Scarlets – Tries Robinson 2, Evans; Conversion S Shingler; Penalties Priestland 2.

Referee: P Gauzere (France)

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