Scarlets 18 Leicester 32: Tigers win in Wales to put one foot in the quarter-finals

Leicester showed exactly why they are Premiership leaders and twice Heineken Cup winners when they emerged victorious from a difficult trip to Wales to move closer to the quarter-finals.

Their impressive win over the Scarlets came thanks to 17 points from the boot of Toby Flood and tries from Alessana Tuilagi, Ben Youngs and Steve Mafi.

Toby Flood of Leicester

Putting the boot in: Toby Flood racked up 17 points for LeicesterTigers

It means that even if Perpignan claim five points next Sunday against the Scarlets, a Leicester home win against Treviso should ensure one of the two best runner-up spots required for qualification into the knockout stages.

If the Tigers claim all five points against the Italians and Perpignan fail to match that against the Scarlets, Leicester should secure a home quarter-final as Pool Five winners.

Last night’s game was a classic in front of a record home crowd for Llanelli in the Heineken Cup of 12,392. The English champions and five-times Heineken Cup finalists needed a win.

Throw in the extra spice of England’s Six Nations trip to Cardiff in less than three weeks — with many of the key characters who will star on February 4 on view last night — and there was much to savour.

At first the writing appeared to be on the wall for the home team. Leicester took a six point lead after 18 minutes thanks to two Flood penalties resulting from forward domination and it seemed that the Tigers brawn would be too much for the Scarlets creativity.

But the Welsh club’s backs responded in the 20th minute when Jonathan Davies skipped past attempted tackles from Martin Castrogiovanni and Louis Deacon before sending Morgan Stoddart away to score in the corner.

Stephen Jones converted, then added a penalty seconds before the break and the Scarlets returned to their dressing room four points up.

Flood and Jones swapped penalties inside the first six minutes of the second half before the Tigers, staring European elimination in the face, decided to do something about it.

Anthony Allen (r) of Leicester holds off Iestyn Thomas (l)

Break through: Leicester's Anthony Allen holds off Iestyn Thomas

Showing their vast Heineken Cup experience, they hit the Scarlets with two stunning tries in the 51st and 61st minutes as they dominated possession and territory.

The first try came from Anthony Allen’s break. Thomas Waldron took the ball on before quick passing down the back line, exemplified by George Chuter’s flick, saw Scott Hamitlon send the scoring pass to Alesana Tuilagi. The powerful Samoan could not be stopped.

Ten minutes later Waldon was lucky to get away with what appeared to be handling in the ruck but his pass sent Ben Youngs dashing down the blind-side.

The England scrum half showed his Test class by finishing from 40 metres — a try confirmed by the Irish TV match official David McHugh.

Flood missed both conversions but his 68th-minute penalty eased the Tigers into an eight-point lead. When he slotted home his fifth penalty of the night two minutes later, Llanelli were done for.

There was still time for Steve Mafi, on for Craig Newby, to bulldoze over for Leicester’s third try to underline a thoroughly good night’s work for the English giants.

Sean Lamont’s try in the dying seconds was scant consolation for the Scarlets, who are all but out of Europe.


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