Saturday 21 September 2013 – 3.00pm
Welford Road, Leicester
Aviva Premiership #3
In some ways the score didn’t reflect the game yesterday, the Falcons played with a lot of heart and never let their heads drop. They continued to attack late on but again could not find the key to unlock a Premiership defence.
Then again, that is a bit of a concern. On top of that, I never felt like Leicester ever really got out of second gear yesterday, and that had they been forced to step things up, they would have done so. The gap in quality between the two sides was clear.
It was very much a routine victory for the Tigers, who got their five points through some simple yet very effective play, a mixture of the power of the forwards and of course Manu ‘bunny ears’ Tuilagi, who punches holes in our defence all afternoon, and the guile and speed of Dan Bowden and Toby Flood.
The relative ease of the win was reflected in a subdued atmosphere at Welford Road, something we travelling Geordies have got used to there over the years. The home fans were no doubt saving themselves for the derby against Northampton in two weeks, although I am told that one Tigger was so riled by some cheerful and cheering Falcons fans that he reported them to a steward.
After two early tries, the Falcons managed to keep in touch with Leicester for most of the first half and were 12-6 down after Rory Clegg’s half-hour drop-goal on a rare visit to the home 22, though to me this seemed like a sign that our team were not confident of scoring a try. Minutes later, Blaine Scully had extended the lead and the bonus point came after half-time.
The difference in the two teams became apparent when the substitutions started – Leicester brought on Lions Dan Cole and Geoff Parling. With respect, Gary Strain and Sean Tomes aren’t near the same level.
There were a few good performances from the Falcons – Carlo del Fava had one of the best games I’ve seen him play for us, making some great tackles and putting in some excellent work in the loose. In the back row, Mark Wilson continued his good start to the season, and if he can keep this form up then surely a Saxons call cannot be far away. Warren Fury has massively improved his service since the regular season in the Championship, he looked again like the player we saw in the play-offs.
Of the backs, Alex Tait was again the pick for me, and many home fans were also complimentary about his performance. Any idea that he cannot take a high ball or tackle (an accusation nobody can now level at Noah Cato, incidentally) must now be dispelled.
One of two players I won’t name did not have great games, sadly, but nobody gave up and that cannot be said for every team we have sent to Welford Road in the past.
In the end, no travellers seemed to disappointed yesterday. Skybet had Leicester 1-200 to win and there is a big gulf between the two teams that, if it will be bridged, will take several years. We can do it but it will take time. If we were to get nothing out of the game points-wise yesterday, then at least there are positives such as a solid scrum and some dynamism from several players, as well as lessons of what needs to be worked on and also the need to be utterly clinical at this level.
At least it’s only Gloucester at home next week, the last time we lost that one we had Flood and Parling in our team.
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