The sight of an Australian international front row congratulating each other after forcing their opposite numbers to their knees at a set scrum will be a rare one on this tour. That it should have happened against Leicester, and against a front row wearing A, B and C on their backs at that, reduced the crowd here to surprised if momentary silence during an agreeably feisty encounter last night.
If the full house of 15 changes to the Australia starting line-up was only to be expected, so too was the presence on the visitors' bench of hooker Saia Faingaa, who along with tighthead Ben Alexander was scrummaged into oblivion by Wales front row last Saturday. Faingaa had the resigned air of a man who knows he is unlikely to play much more international rugby on this tour.
On a pitch made slippery by freezing rain, the tourists made an impressive start. After Berrick Barnes had kicked a penalty a burst from the Tigers' 22 by scrum-half Luke Burgess to within a couple of metres of the try-line was finished by wing Lachie Turner. Barnes followed the conversion with another penalty to put the visitors 13 points ahead.
Gradually however a Leicester pack of forwards containing three England internationals in George Chuter, Julian White and Jordan Crane, began to assert itself, to such effect in fact that the Australians began to lose their cool. A set-to between Craig Newby and Richard Brown was the first of several confrontations, and it was probably no coincidence that the visitors conceded a series of unnecessary penalties. Tigers' stand-off Billy Twelvetrees kicked four of them to reduce the deficit to a point at half-time.
The second half was similarly tight with neither side inclined to take too many risks. Yet another Twelvetrees penalty gave the Tigers the lead, but Barnes replied from close to 50 yards. A drop goal from in front of the sticks, and a stoppage time try from Scott Higginbotham confirmed the win.
Leicester Murphy; Hamilton, Smith (Hipkiss, 75), Allen, Tuilagi; Twelvetrees, Grindal; Bucknall, Chuter (Hawkins, 65), White, Slater, Skivington, Waldrom (Mafi, 60), Newby, Crane.
Australia Hynes; Davies, McCabe, Faingaa, Turner (Mumm, 64); Barnes, Burgess; Slipper, Edmonds (McCutcheon, 64), Ma'afu, Humphries (Faingaa, 64), Simmons, Higginbotham, Hodgson (Morahan, 64), Brown.
Referee J Kaplan (South Africa).Reuse content