Johnson's ravenous Tigers devour Leeds

Leicester 42 - Leeds 20
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The Independent Online

Leeds are like a Friday afternoon driver, trapped on a congested motorway - they have no idea of when they will arrive. Leicester have a much better outlook: John Wells and his Tigers will not be satisfied unless they are in the European Cup shake-up and challenging for domestic honours come the end of May.

At this stage of the season, it is too early to see with any certainty if Leicester are capable of making that long journey, though their front row will be a match for any, with Darren Morris and James Buckland being introduced to the action after the break on Saturday. Martin Johnson is as pugnacious as ever, while the back row awaits only Lewis Moody. At half-back, Andy Goode has had a Pat Howard makeover and with Harry Ellis he ran the show, with the assistance of Ollie Smith and Seru Rabeni.

It was all too much for Leeds, for whom survival is paramount. Without the personnel, power or the imagination to beat the better sides, the Tykes will struggle to overcome all except, perhaps, Worcester. Things might improve when Iain Balshaw and Tim Stimpson are fit.

Surprisingly, Leicester reached the break only 20-3 ahead. Johnson sent them on their way with a powerful surge for the first try, Rabeni got the second and, with two penalties and both conversions from Goode, Leeds had barely come to life when Gordon Ross kicked a penalty in stoppage time.

Whatever the Tykes' shortcomings, they defended well and grabbed a try when Tom Biggs chased Ross's long clearance. But Goode kicked a further penalty before Leeds lost Chris Murphy to the sin-bin. A try from Ellis, a penalty try and another from Henry Tuilagi signalled the end for Leeds, though Jon Dunbar crossed the line in injury time.

Leicester: Tries Johnson, Rabeni, Ellis, Penalty, H Tuilagi; Conversions Goode 4; Penalties Goode 3; Leeds: Tries Biggs, Dunbar; Conversions Ross 2; Penalties Ross 2.

Leicester: G Murphy; A Healey, O Smith (A Tuiilagi 55), D Gibson, S Rabeni; A Goode, H Ellis (S Bemand 54); G Rowntree (D Morris 63), G Chuter (J Buckland 75), J White, M Johnson (capt), L Deacon, B Deacon (H Tuilagi 62), M Corry, N Back.

Leeds: M Cardey; D Rees, C Bell (P Christophers 48), A Snyman, T Biggs; G Ross, A Dickens (M McMillan 72); M Cusack, M Regan, G Kerr, C Murphy, T Palmer (capt), P Uys (J Dunbar 10-20, 65), A Popham, R Parks.

Referee: W Barnes (Surrey).

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