Youngs' flash of temper may land him in hot water

London Irish 32 Leicester Tigers 41

The Madejski Stadium

Generally speaking, it takes something very special – or, perhaps, deeply controversial – to leave a man called Homer playing second fiddle in an epic. A Madejski Stadium crowd of 20,000-plus witnessed both during the course of yesterday's captivating Premiership encounter: the first in the form of a brilliant scrummaging display from a pack of Leicester forwards with the scent of blood in their nostrils; the second in the shape of Ben Youngs, the England scrum-half. Or more precisely, Ben Youngs' right knee.

At the start of a week in which two members of the red-rose squad, the Northampton players Dylan Hartley and Calum Clark, are being hauled before the beak to answer charges of violent excess, it will be surprising indeed if their international colleague does not join them in the dock. Youngs clearly dropped his knee on to the prone body of the London Irish back-rower Jamie Gibson in the closing seconds of the first half – an act that prompted his opposite number, Darren Allinson, to seek immediate retribution, thereby instigating a mass dust-up – and while Gibson might not have been entirely blameless, he was unquestionably more sinned against than sinner.

Asked for his take on this latest flash of temper from Youngs, the London Irish coach Toby Booth went for the euphemistic approach. "What did I think? I thought it was unnecessary," he said. "Was Jamie wrong to hold him back? Probably. But when that happens to someone who can't defend himself, it's a bit different. Still, the right people will have a look at it. What will be, will be." As for the Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill, there was more than a whiff of resignation about his reaction. "Ben is trying to play, he gets held down, he leverages himself off," he said by way of an attempted explanation before giving it up as a bad job. "It's not ideal," he admitted, eventually. "Whether it's citable is not for me to say, but if we were to lose him at this stage of the season, it wouldn't be good."

This was a fiercely contested match, teetering on the fractious, which explains why the two goalkickers, Tom Homer and Toby Flood, had plenty of opportunities to hone their marksmanship skills. Yet while Flood, operating behind a dominant set-piece, kicked with impressive accuracy, he was overshadowed – in this department at least – by his opponent. Three times between the 70th and 75th minutes, with the outcome very much in the balance, Homer was asked to land 50m shots from left field. Three times, he bisected the sticks with such precision that the phrase "middle of the middle", coined by the long-time England kicking coach Dave Alred, sprang to mind.

"He's a special kid and that was a special performance," acknowledged Brian Smith, newly reinstalled at the top end of the Exiles' rugby operation after a three-year tour of duty with England. Smith played alongside some half-decent points-gatherers during his time in international rugby with Australia and Ireland – the great Wallaby midfield strategist Michael Lynagh, for one – and has worked with a few more top-of-the-bill acts during his coaching career, including some bloke by the name of Wilkinson. Yet there was a moment yesterday when it was difficult to believe he had ever seen anything better.

Homer also contributed a second-half try after wrong-footing the aforementioned Youngs, among others, in open field a dozen or so minutes after the interval, but for all the full-back's heroics, he would finish on the losing side. Leicester, slow to react to the pace and tempo of the contest in the opening quarter but ahead through close-range scores from Flood and Julian Salvi well before the half-hour mark, had more than their share of dodgy moments, but with the likes of Marcos Ayerza, Dan Cole and, latterly, Martin Castrogiovanni squeezing the Exiles' pips in the darkened recesses, they established complete command in the area that really mattered.

Cole, especially, appears to have added considerable amounts to his game over the course of the Six Nations – a fact probably attributable to his regular appearances in the England starting XV, having spent too much time on the Leicester bench. Certainly, he asked some difficult questions of his international front-row colleague, the London Irish loose-head prop Alex Corbisiero, as yesterday's game unfolded. There was also much to be said of Ayerza's performance on the opposite side of the scrum. Quite why the current Argentine coaches think less of him than the Tigers' back-room team is a mystery that passeth all understanding. The marginalised Puma was magnificent here.

Not that the beaten Smith was unduly disappointed at seeing the visitors rise to third in the Premiership table at the expense of his own side, who cannot find a way out of the bottom four. Having suffered the worst trauma of his sporting career in the aftermath of the failed World Cup campaign – once again, he referred to the "grubby" leaking of three post-tournament reviews to the media – he seemed happy enough to be back in the game he considered quitting for good.

He even dressed for the occasion, in a smart two-piece. "The RFU spends a lot of money on a lot of things, including clothes," he remarked, "and while they didn't spend that much saying goodbye to me, unfortunately, they left me this suit. And I intend to wear it until the bloody thing's threadbare."

Scorers: London Irish - Tries: Evans, Homer. Conversions: Homer 2. Penalties: Homer 5. Drop goal: Bowden. Leicester - Tries: Flood, Salvi, Tuilagi, Croft. Conversions: Flood 3. Penalties: Flood 5.

London Irish: T Homer; M Yarde (D Armitage, 67), J Ansbro, S Shingler, S Tagicakibau; D Bowden, D Allinson (P Hodgson, 67); A Corbisiero (M Lahiff 47), D Paice (J Buckland, 50), F Rautenbach (P Ion, 31), N Kennedy (capt), B Evans (R Casey, 67), D Danaher, M Garvey (O Treviranus, 59) J Gibson (A Gray, 67).

Leicester: G Murphy (capt); H Agulla, M Tuilagi, W Twelvetrees, S Hamilton; T Flood, B Youngs (J Grindal, 60); M Ayerza (L Mulipola, 66), G Chuter, D Cole (M Castrogiovanni, 56), G Skivington, G Parling, S Mafi (T Croft,53), J Salvi, T Waldrom.

Referee: D Richards (Berkshire).

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Twelve of the winning bidders will each host three group matches
football
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week