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

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory