Tait lacks Smith's conviction

Leicester 83 Newcastle 10
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The Independent Online

Goode, Smith & Tait. It could be the name of a respectable law firm. The senior partner, Andy Goode, prosecuted his case to near perfection; as did Ollie Smith. Mathew Tait, the novice advocate, was less successful. He found the evidence presented by his opponents unchallengeable.

Goode, Smith & Tait. It could be the name of a respectable law firm. The senior partner, Andy Goode, prosecuted his case to near perfection; as did Ollie Smith. Mathew Tait, the novice advocate, was less successful. He found the evidence presented by his opponents unchallengeable.

England's head coach, Andy Robinson, is considering his goal-kicking options and who to play in the centres before naming his side to face Ireland in Dublin on Sunday and he still has much to think about. After Charlie Hodgson's near-immaculate performance against Leeds on Friday evening, the villain of the defeat against France last week is sure to start at Lansdowne Road.

If Olly Barkley cannot be relied upon as a back-up goal-kicker, who should Robinson call on for bench duties? Henry Paul - who limped off the Kingsholm pitch on Saturday- or Goode, who was in towering form against Newcastle, kicking 11 conversions and two penalties for a total of 28 points. He never missed a thing.

Poor Tait missed almost everything. Smith scored two assertive tries, powering past the unfortunate Tait, who looked more of a sparrow than a Falcon and was even further out of his depth than in Cardiff two weeks ago. To compound his misery, he gifted Leicester their sixth try with a sloppy pass which Henry Tuilagi intercepted.

Not that it was all Tait's fault, though afterwards Leicester's head coach, John Wells, said: "We took Ollie off at half-time as a precaution, because he has a tight hamstring. If you want an outside centre who can do the opposition some damage, Ollie can. But he had made his point. It was man against boy."

So it was elsewhere as Rob Andrew, Newcastle's director of rugby, was quick to acknowledge. "Once you go behind at Welford Road - especially with a team of youngsters - it is a daunting prospect," he said. "We had no experienced players to hold it together."

Until well into the second quarter, the Falcons were competitive. Mark Mayerhofler scored their try, though tries by Austin Healey, Smith and Daryl Gibson heralded the inevitable. Only the Leicester faithful and those with a taste for public floggings would have enjoyed what followed.

Leicester: Tries Lloyd 2, Smith 2, Back 2, Healey, Gibson, Tuilagi, W Johnson, Murphy; Conversions Goode 11; Penalties Goode 2. Newcastle: Try Mayerhofler; Conversion May; Penalty May.

Leicester: S Vesty (G Murphy, 70); L Lloyd, O Smith (S Rabeni, 40), D Gibson, A Healey; A Goode, S Bemand (H Ellis, 70); G Rowntree (J Rawson, 51), G Chuter (J Buckland, 51), D Morris, M Johnson (capt), L Deacon (W Johnson, 5), H Tuilagi (L Moody, 55), M Corry, N Back.

Newcastle: T Flood; T May, M Tait, M Mayerhofler, M Stephenson (O Phillips, 61); M Wilkinson, J Grindal (L Dickson, 50); I Peel (capt; J Isaacson, 24-28; 40), M Thompson (A Long, 40), M Ward, L Gross (C Hamilton, 50), G Parling, M McCarthy, S Sititi (P Dowson, 61), C Harris.

Referee: T Spreadbury (Somerset).

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