Leeds 6 Leicester 29: Varndell's pace beats power play from Leeds

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The Independent Online

The new Leicester coach, Marcelo Loffreda, sitting in the cold of a northern English autumn in full charge for his first game since moving on from Argentinian national duties, knows that this was a flattering scoreline.

The denial of a bonus point when Johne Murphy, tackled by Apo Satala, spilt the ball over the line was not half as worrying as the amount of time the Tigers spent in their own half. While Leeds were always dangerous, Leicester were lethal when it mattered.

Leeds may not have the luxury of being able to rest internationals nor have they the squad resources of the English champions, but they have plenty of Yorkshire grit.

The pack secured more turnover ball from an opposition unit which prides itself on muscularity, and they also managed to wheel the Tiger scrum, but came off second best to what coach Stuart Lancaster acknowledged was the best line-out defence in the country.

In the centre, the former Tiger Andy Tuilagi was in the thick of it working up a typical South Pacific strop and Lancaster added, "I thought we matched them across the field today."

Leeds drew first blood from an Alberto di Bernardo penalty and then he kept Leeds in it with another as Andy Goode, always looking for the tricksy chip to the wing, did the same with his two penalties for Leicester.

But it was one of those kicks out to the left that swung the first half as speedster Tom Varndell, after another Satala tackle, spun the ball loose, Leigh Hinton fumbled, and the alert Varndell pounced to score. Goode converted from touch.

Ten points in the first eight minutes of the second half sewed it up for Tigers, via another penalty from Goode and a well-worked try by Tom Youngs.

Goode's fourth penalty and a final whistle second try for Varndell completed the fifth win from seven starts for the Tigers.

Leeds: L Hinton; A Satala, R Vickerman, A Tuilagi (L Blackett, 70), T Biggs; A di Bernardo (J Hepworth, 78), J Bedford; M MacDonald, V Ma'asi (J Parkes, 66), C Noon (F Pala'amo, 60), S Hooper (capt), E Lund (P Bouza, 75), D Paul (J Dunbar, 49), C Clark, R Oakley.

Leicester: S Vesty (A Erinle, 28-36); J Murphy, D Hipkiss, T Youngs, T Varndell; A Goode, F Murphy (B Youngs, 78); M Ayerza, M Davies (G Chuter, 54), A Moreno (D Young, 78), J Hamilton, B Kay (R Blaze, 75), T Croft, L Moody (capt, L Abraham, 60), B Deacon.

Referee: A Small (London)