European Champions Cup: Leicester hammer Scarlets

By James StandleyBBC Sport
Tom Youngs dives over for the second of his two tries for Leicester
Tom Youngs scores a quick-fire second-half double for Leicester
Leicester (14) 40
Tries: Benjamin, Crane, Thompstone, T Youngs 2, Harrison Cons: Burns 4, Williams
Scarlets (11) 23
Tries: Evans, Robinson 2 Cons: Shingler Pens: Priestland 2

Leicester kept alive their hopes of reaching the Champions Cup knockout stages with a bonus-point win over Scarlets that ended the Welsh side's interest in Europe for another season.

Miles Benjamin and Jordan Crane tries put the hosts in control but it was 14-11 at half-time as Rob Evans went over.

But second-half Tigers tries from Adam Thompstone and Tom Youngs, with a brace, earned an attacking bonus point.

Harry Robinson's consolation brace came either side of Sam Harrison's score.

Leicester must now secure a bonus-point win at Ulster next weekend and hope other results go their way if they are to make the last eight.

Two-time European champions Leicester have not been at their best this season, with a spate of injuries not helping their cause.

European Champions Cup Pool Three

But with the likes of England lock Geoff Parling and wrecking-ball prop Logovii Mulipola back in harness their renowned pack is once again starting to look like its old self, and by midway through the second half they were shunting the Scarlets' scrum back at will.

With Tom Croft and co virtually flawless in the line-out the forwards not only claimed three tries of their own but also laid the platform for the backs to flourish.

Scarlets were missing a host of injured players, including classy full-back Liam Williams, and their lack of power and strength in depth was brutally exposed on a chilly night in the east Midlands.

The visitors actually took the lead via Rhys Priestland's boot, but Tigers then assumed control and when winger Benjamin finished off a crisp passing move and number eight Crane burrowed over from an attacking line-out - Freddie Burns converting both scores from wide out - the game looked over as a contest after only 15 minutes.

But although Scarlets might have been underpowered their spirit was not in doubt and prop Evans, who showed fine footballing skills throughout the night, drilled over for a try and another Priestland penalty cut the gap to just three points at the break.

Tigers knew they needed a bonus point to keep in touch with pool leaders Toulon - who have won the last two European Cups - and they ramped up the power after the break.

Winger Thompstone raced over to finish off some accurate passing and England hooker Youngs, on as a replacement as Tigers turned the screw up front, grabbed two tries in short order.

Scarlets' ambition created two overlaps for Robinson to finish off but in-between, replacement Leicester scrum-half Harrison - on for Ben Youngs who had revelled in the front foot game he was allowed to play - scored a sixth try for a Tigers side that is once again showing its claws.

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill:

"We are happy with the win - we got what we wanted and it gives us a fighting chance for next week.

"Ravenhill is a difficult place to go. We are going to need five points to qualify and even that may not be enough.

"To go to Ravenhill and win is one thing. To go there and score four tries and get five points is a big ask, but we will see."

Scarlets boss Wayne Pivac:

"It was a bridge too far for us.

"They made a couple of substitutions in the front row and it was a struggle from that point on.

"The sort of players we were missing make a difference, but the guys we had out there was what we had to work with and I thought they put up a brave effort."

Leicester: Tait; Thompstone, Goneva, Baikeinuku, Benjamin; Burns, B Youngs; Rizzo, Ghiraldini, Mulipola, Thorn, Parling, Croft, Salvi, Crane.

Replacements: Smith for Benjamin (73), O Williams for Burns (62), Harrison for B Youngs (62), Ayerza for Rizzo (51), T Youngs for Ghiraldini (51), Balmain for Mulipola (54), Barbieri for Salvi (62), Kitchener for Thorn (6).

Sin Bin: Kitchener (33).

Scarlets: J Williams; Robinson, King, S Williams, Parkes; Priestland, A Davies, R Evans, Elias, Adriaanse, Ball, Earle, A Shingler, Barclay, McCusker, J Davies.

Replacements: W Jones for R Evans (65), Rawlins for Earle (63), J Davies for Barclay (57), Pitman for McCusker (63), Harris for J Davies (71), S Shingler for Priestland (70).

Not Used: P Edwards, R Davies.

Sin Bin: A Shingler (66).

Att: 18,913

Ref: Pascal Gauzere (France).