After the controversial end to last year’s encounter with Bristol at Welford Road, Leicester fans will have enjoyed the drubbing Tigers dished out to the Bears on Saturday. And to do it while celebrating the career of Tom Youngs made it all the sweeter.
It was a commanding performance by the Tigers. Scoring eight tries, they outplayed Bristol in every facet of the game. In what was possibly a warm up for many of the players ahead of the game with Leinster this weekend, Steve Borthwick couldn’t have wished for much more from the squad he picked.
Tigers fans will have been relieved by the return of Julián Montoya. Though probably a couple of percent off his barnstorming best, this 50 minutes will have prepared him nicely for facing the Irish side.
Though the three positives I’m highlighting from the game this week all involve backs, the forward pack was immense on Saturday. Every one of them stood up. Being able to substitute the front row early due to our dominance was a real bonus too.
3️⃣ Three positives
1) Moroni’s elite defence
Watching the highlights over the weekend, I missed the extent of Matías Moroni’s role in the win. It wasn’t until I watched the game in full last night that I appreciated what an immense performance he put in. My man of the match. His reading of the game defensively is so impressive. And the number of tackles he put in where Bristol were on the brink of breaking away was astounding. Though conceding four tries was still a disappointment, but for some of his tackling and defensive prowess, we might have conceded several more. (Oh, and he scored a try and created a try too!)
2) Ford’s game management
Against Harlequins last week, it wouldn’t be unfair to say George Ford wasn’t his best. We never managed to truly gain control in that game and Ford’s slight off day was a factor in that. Without his missed goal kicks too, we might have snuck away with a win. That he was able to shrug off that performance with such a commanding one on Saturday is no surprise. But it will be a relief to fans to have seen the way he dictated play and managed the game so well as we head toward Leinster on Saturday. For Tigers to have a chance, we will need Ford to be at his very best.
3) Ben Youngs’ sharpness
I thought Ben Youngs looked at his brilliant best on Saturday. His speed to the ruck, picking of passes, and pace of passes was all super fast. His decision making was lightning quick the whole time he was on the pitch. All of his kicks were pinpoint accurate too. As with Ford, seeing Youngs in that kind of form heading into the Leinster game is a huge encouragement.
2️⃣ Two areas for improvement
1) Switching off in the last ten minutes
Listening on the radio and reading the match reports, I got the impression that Tigers had a sloppy last 20 minutes. Having watched the game in full though, it was actually only the last 9 or 10 minutes. Still you can imagine conceding two late tries to Bristol will have frustrated Borthwick and the coaching team. Switch off for 10 minutes against Leinster and the game will probably be gone. We have to be an 80 minute team regardless of who we are playing and what the scoreline is. Otherwise bad habits slip in.
2) Scrum stability
I came away from reading the match reviews with an impression of Tigers dominating in the scrum. Though we did win some penalties, having watched the game, it wasn’t as dominant as I’d have liked to see as we look to face up to Leinster’s front row. We did win the ball off our own feed, but there wasn’t as much stability as you’d like to see which reduces the options for how you attack. The scrum is likely to be a critical component of the game at the weekend and we’ll want to ensure greater stability from it.
1️⃣ One talking point
1) No more injuries or suspensions
It was a relief to see Tigers seemingly get through the game against Bristol without any new injury concerns or suspensions. Ollie Chessum will be available again after his suspension and you suspect he’ll be on the bench at the very least. Other than Dan Kelly, who we don’t know if he’ll be fit or not (I suspect not), Borthwick is able to pick his first choice options across the pitch. Not only that, in some areas like the wing he has some tough choices to make. Chris Ashton’s hat trick will surely put him in contention for a starting jersey. But he’s competing with Nadolo and Potter who are equally deserving of a start. A nice problem to have.
Okay, that’s it for this week’s post-match review. Time to gear up for Leinster!
Thanks for reading,
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