Premiership: London Welsh 5-26 Leicester Tigers
|London Welsh (5) 5|
|Leicester (12) 26|
|Tries: Thacker 2, Kitchener, Barbieri Cons: Bell 3|
Harry Thacker's brace of tries helped an off-colour Leicester Tigers grind out a Premiership win against a spirited London Welsh side.
Welsh, without a win all season and having scored only seven tries in as many games, went ahead through Nick Scott's try from a Seb Jewell kick.
Thacker crossed twice from driving mauls as Tigers responded, and Graham Kitchener's try extended the lead.
Robert Barbieri's score brought up the bonus point that takes Tigers fifth.
Tommy Bell, signed from Jersey earlier this season, kicked three conversions to add to the Tigers tally.
Defeat for Welsh failed to recognise the impressive effort they gave in the match, belying their place at the foot of the table with a gutsy performance - notably from Opeti Fonua on his first start at number eight.
Leicester, perhaps trying to push their anticipated dominance in awkward conditions, lacked discipline with the ball and coughed up possession on numerous occasions.
Freddie Burns, signed to bolster the creative ranks from Gloucester, failed to find his radar with the boot throughout with two missed penalties and a conversion all fading wide of the posts.
That profligacy was punished when Welsh, on just their second foray into the Tigers half, scored the first points as Jewell's beautifully weighted cross-field kick found Scott in space to touchdown on the left.
Jewell's bright start went awry when he fumbled a box-kick in his own 22, and subsequent penalties created the platform for a driving maul that hooker Thacker grounded over the line to pull Leicester level.
Burns, who was eventually replaced for kicking duties by Bell, needed to be quickest to a charge down from the Exiles, and having survived that scare the visitors found themselves ahead at the break when Thacker broke from another powerful maul to cross for his second.
Tigers coach Richard Cockerill appeared stony faced as he took his seat for the second-half regardless of the score, but his side remained susceptible to sloppy errors in attacking areas.
However they eventually found a rhythm for Kitchener's try, thanks to some smart running by Anthony Allen, slick handling and tiring Welsh defence.
Substitute Barbieri rolled over to bring up the extra point with a quarter of an hour to go and that score was enough to see off the home side's fight.
London Welsh defence coach Rowland Phillips:
"We had to improve after last week's showing at Wasps. There is still a lot of work to do but for large parts, we contained the Leicester attack.
"After 20 minutes it was 5-0 to us, then 5-5 after 38; we defended comfortably but once you concede needless penalties to allow good opposition driving-maul positions then you will be in trouble.
"Opeti (Fonua) seems to be fine (after he went off late on). He took a knock but is walking round the changing rooms. He had an excellent game for us."
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill told BBC Radio Leicester:
"It was job done and we've got the five points, but we were poor and they were tenacious and credit to them they made us work really hard but we were inaccurate.
"It's a good reminder you're not right at it then you're always potentially going to be caught out but it'll put us on our toes for the Wasps game.
"Nobody got injured and clearly this is a sharp reminder to be better.
"As for Harry [Thacker] he is improving all the time, it's a good opportunity for him to get some game time."
London Welsh: Jewell; Stegmann, Reynolds, May (capt) Scott; Ross, Lewis; Reeves, Vella, Vea; Corker, Down; Browne, McCaffrey, Fonua.
Replacements: Britton, Tevett, Cooper, Schofield, Pienaar, Rowley, Robinson, Awcock.
Leicester Tigers: Bell; Scully, Smith, Allen, Thompstone; Burns, Mele: Rizzo, Thacker, Cole: Thorn (capt), Kitchener; Gibson, Salvi, Crane.
Replacements: Farnworth, Bristow, Balmain, Barbieri, Pearce, Harrison, Williams, Tait.