Youngs keeps Tigers' Heineken hopes alive

Scarlets 18 Leicester Tigers 32: Premiership leaders still in contention for last-eight place after gutsy win

The Leicester forwards squeezed the life out of the Scarlets in the second half but while the Tigers stand level on points with Perpignan at the top of the Heineken Cup's Pool Five, they are at a disadvantage because the French side had the better of their two meetings in December. The final round of pool matches, next Sunday, when Leicester host Treviso and the Scarlets go to Perpignan, will sort out the quarter-final placings.

If Leicester find themselves on the road in the last eight as pool runners-up they will rue the draw they allowed Perpignan at Welford Road last month much more than the bonus point they missed by not scoring one more try here. The Premiership leaders and English champions asserted their quality and Ben Youngs was among a few who notched a significant chunk out of the tribal totem pole three weeks before Wales meet England in Cardiff. No one is counting points when border warfare is at hand.

The locals packed the bunker-like bars under the grandstand beforehand. By the end they had bowed heads, praying for a win next week that might squeak the Scarlets through. Nigel Davies, their coach, had few complaints – well, just one, really, that Leicester's Thomas Waldrom was illegally off his feet when he flipped up the ball with which Youngs ran in a game-breaking try, the Tigers' second, in the 61st minute.

"There's a lot that goes on at every breakdown," said Richard Cockerill, Davies's Leicester counterpart, by way of an answer to that question. Davies said: "We couldn't control the ball from set piece in the second half and give ourselves a platform to go at them. Once they got momentum it was difficult to stop them."

A shaky start for Leicester was put right with a 6-0 lead inside 16 minutes: two penalties by Youngs' England half-back pal, Toby Flood, on the way to a total of 17 points. Leicester had the control to straighten a scrum as it started wheeling and the Scarlets splintered. Then Alesana Tuilagichipped and ran into Rhys Priestland and on the flimsiest of evidence the referee, Alain Rolland, penalised the Scarlets full-back for blocking.

The strains of "Sosban Fach" were soaring after the Scarlets' try, in the 19th minute. The Welsh region refrained from Hail Mary passes. When it was not on, they did not force it. Instead the side currently second in the Magners League used good work by Rob McCusker and Josh Turnbull at the breakdown and the fly-half nous of Stephen Jones to make the space for Jon Davies to run free and render utterly risible the notion in some quarters that Gavin Henson, the sadly injury prone Saracen, is ahead of him in the inside-centre pecking order. Davies left Martin Castrogiovanni and Louis Deacon trailing and the try was scored by Morgan Stoddart with a step off his right foot.

The problem for the Scarlets was that the effort they had put in to leading 13-9 after 45 minutes – two penalties added by Jones and one by Flood – had sapped them terribly. Their hooker and Wales captain, Matthew Rees, wobbled at the line-out and while both sides were missing creative muses – Geordan Murphy, the Tigers' captain and full-back, and Regan King, the Scarlets' All Black centre – the home team were also three props short.

Leicester, insistently and not a little lavishly, ran in their first try in the 52nd minute. Anthony Allen carved through the middle, George Skivington barged on into the 22 and, going right to left with George Chuter's flip and Scott Hamilton's more straightforward pass, Alesana Tuilagi crashed into the corner.

Leicester's controversial second try came as the clock ticked into the final quarter. Whether or not Waldrom should have been on his feet, the ball was probably there to be played as the blindside flanker flipped it up from a ragged Scarlets ruck. With 35 metres of clear short side in front of him, Youngs raced to the same flag Tuilagi had scored at not long before. We could have done without the scrum-half's football-style finger-to-lips gesture, but it showed his joy and relief.

The conversion from Flood went awry, so Leicester were 19-13 up. But a grimly inevitable penalty, concededby a backpedalling Scarlets scrum, sailed over after 67 minutes, followed by a fifth three minutes later, with the crowd mostly silent by now. A yellow card for Waldrom, for preventing a quick tap, only briefly cheered them – Steve Mafi rumbled over for Leicester's third try, converted by Flood, and Sean Lamont's last-ditch try for Scarlets was pretty much superfluous.

Scarlets R Priestland; M Stoddart, G Maule (L Williams, 69), J Davies, S Lamont; S Jones, T Knoyle; I Thomas (R Jones, 71); M Rees (capt; E Phillips, 71), S Gardner (P John, 49), L Reed, V Cooper (J Fa'amatuainu, 49), R McCusker (B Morgan, 69), D Lyons, J Turnbull.

Leicester Tigers S Hamilton; M Smith, M Tuilagi (H Agulla, 70), A Allen, A Tuilagi; T Flood, B Youngs; M Ayerza (B Stankovich, 77), G Chuter (R Hawkins, 77), M Castrogiovanni(D Cole, 55), L Deacon (capt), G Skivington (E Slater, 77), T Waldrom, J Crane, C Newby (S Mafi, 40).

Referee A Rolland (Ireland).

Scarlets

Tries: Stoddart, Lamont

Con: S Jones

Pens: S Jones 2

Leicester Tigers

Tries: A Tuilagi, Youngs, Mafi

Con: Flood

Pens: Flood 5

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas