PREMIERSHIP SATURDAY WRAP: Steve Borthwick’s first full season in charge of Leicester got off to a cracking start with a 38-15 try bonus point victory over Gloucester in their Premiership opener at Welford Road.
Borthwick joined the Saints at the restart of the 2019/20 campaign and he now has full control following the recent exit of director of rugby Geordan Murphy.
South African wing Kobus van Wyk, who joined the English club in June, hooker Tom Youngs, scrumhalf Richard Wigglesworth and replacement hooker Charlie Clare were the try-scored during Leicester’s win.
Flyhalf Zack Henry kicked three penalties and two conversions, while his replacement Joaquin Diaz Bonilla added a conversion and penalty to the tally.
Gloucester’s tries came via hooker James Hanson and scrumhalf Joe Simpson, with centre Billy Twelvetrees adding a penalty and conversion.
The Tigers were back to their best in a performance which was probably better than anything they have played in the last year. The speed of the ball was sharp, seen in the first try of the match as Wigglesworth sent centre Jaco Taute down the blindside for the South African to put in countryman Van Wyk for a simple run-in to the corner, which Henry converted.
And Borthwick’s mark was all over Leicester’s second try to put the Tigers 12-0 up inside twelve minutes when the pack, inside Gloucester’s 22, rolled the ball, leaving the visiting forwards flailing and allowing Youngs his touch down.
Twelvetrees managed to get Gloucester on the board with a 20-metre penalty but, by 25 minutes, Leicester had stretched their lead further. Henry sent the ball left from a ruck and Taute passed wide to wing Harry Potter, whose grubber kick to the Gloucester try-line was taken by Wigglesworth easily to touch down.
The flyhalf converted and Gloucester’s problems mounted when skipper Lewis Ludlow suffered an accidental bang to the head that forced him off. A long Henry penalty put Leicester 22-3 in front, but Gloucester gave themselves a little hope when Hanson took a flip ball five metres from the line to get the Cherry and Whites’ opening, but unconverted, try.
But one decent half does not make a match and Leicester soon found Gloucester breathing down their necks following a neat score by Simpson, a popped pass by Ludlow’s replacement Freddie Clarke sending the scrum-half in. Twelvetrees’ conversion made it a seven-point difference, but another Henry penalty soon opened up the Tigers’ lead again.
Leicester might have had a shout for a penalty try when Clarke was yellow-carded for a ruck offence on his own line, but it was called as a penalty which the Tigers opted to kick to touch. Henry booted his third penalty with 15 minutes left, before both Hanson and home lock Calum Green were sent to the bin for a tit-for-tat ruck incident.
And Leicester sealed the win and their try bonus point with a touchdown for Clare. Bonilla converted and kicked a penalty in the last minute.
In Saturday’s other fixtures, Worcester Warriors got their Premiership season off to a winning start with a narrow 11-10 victory over London Irish in an error-ridden game at Sixways.
While Newcastle Falcons recorded a 19-12 victory over Bath.
Leicester Tigers 38-15 Gloucester
For Leicester Tigers
Tries: Van Wyk, Youngs, Wigglesworth, Claire
Cons: Henry 2, Bonnilla
Pens: Henry 3, Bonilla
Tries: Hanson, Simpson
Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Guy Porter, 11 Harry Potter, 10 Zack Henry, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 5 Calum Green, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Facundo Gigena
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Cameron Henderson, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Ben White, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Dan Kelly
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Jack Stanley, 2 James Hanson, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Jamie Gibson, 20 Freddie Clarke, 21 Will Flinn, 22 Lloyd Evans, 23 Tom Seabrook
Referee: Jack Makepeace
Assistant Referees: Ian Tempest & Simon McConnell
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Worcester Warriors 11-10 London Irish
For Worcester Warriors:
Pens: Searle 2
For London Irish
Worcester Warriors: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Nick David, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Marco Mama, 7 Ted Hill (captain), 6 Joe Batley, 5 Andrew Kitchener, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Beck Cutting, 17 Callum Black, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 George Merrick, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Ashley Beck
London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Matt Rogerson, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Ben Donnell, 5 Andrei Mahu, 4 George Nott, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Harry Elrington
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Tom Parton
Referee: Adam Leal
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Roy Maybank
TMO: David Grashoff
Newcastle Falcons 19-12 Bath
Tries: Cokanasiga, Matavesi
For Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Graham 2, Stevenson
Cons: Connon 2
Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 13 Cameron Redpath, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Joe Cokanasiga, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Miles Reid, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Josh McNally (captain), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Lewis Boyce
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Max Clark, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Toby Flood, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (captain), 8 Gary Graham, 7 Connor Collett, 6 Sean Robinson, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Trevor Davison
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Rob Farrar, 20 Josh Basham, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Pete Lucock
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Philip Watters & Robert Warburton
TMO: David Rose