The Only Way Is Up Following Leicester’s Poor Start To The Premiership Season

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NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Luther Burrell of Northampton Saints is tackled by George Ford and Sione Kalamafoni of Leicester Tigers during the Aviva Premiership match between Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers at Franklin's Gardens on September 9, 2017 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Leicester’s poor start to the season has come as quite a surprise to many. Their new signings alongside the quality in the side has left question marks over their recent form.

The Only Way Is Up Following Leicester’s Poor Start To The Premiership Season

The Tigers haven’t lost their opening two rounds of the Premiership since 2011, when they were edged by Exeter and Wasps respectively.

This season Bath out muscled them in round one to win at Welford Road for the first time since 2003. A one-sided East Midlands derby at Northampton followed in round two.

Despite the quality at Matt O’Connor’s disposal, his squad have failed to gel as a unit after a highly anticipated build up.

Against Bath, the stats favoured the Tigers. Even with three yellow cards for Bath, the numerical advantage failed to prove fruitful.

Getting The Basics Right

Two Jonny May scores following an earlier Manu Tuilagi try propelled Leicester into likely winners. Yet possession and territory yielded little in return. It was a case of failing to get the basics right and unforced errors compounded Leicester woes. Even with a sterling backline of George Ford, Matt Toomua and Manu Tuilagi the Tigers seemed to come up short on numerous occasions.

At Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday, the Tigers failed to make up ground in most departments. A rejuvenated Saints side capitalised on the chances they created for themselves and made Leicester defend for large periods. Whereas against Bath, the Tigers created opportunities that subsequently went begging, despite the three tries that were finished.

Tuilagi Torment

Tuilagi’s confirmed knee injury will only add to O’Connor’s anguish. Facing the prospect of twelve weeks out, the centre looked bright on his first start since New Year’s Day. Tuilagi has been plagued with injury in previous seasons and recent pre season hype added to expectations of a big campaign ahead.

However, former England and Saints scrum half Matt Dawson believes Tuilagi’s best days may be behind him.

Speaking to the Mirror, Dawson said “It worries me because there does seem to be a bit of a theme developing.

“He is so big and strong, putting loads of pressure through his knees. It’s not as if he can choke his game down a bit.

“It’s a little bit too early to say we’ve seen the best of him, but it’s getting close.”

The Road To Redemption

There have been positives for Leicester to take away from their opening two defeats.

There is still a long way to go in the season and time is on their side, but it depends on how great a gap is opened at the top.

Jonny May has been in fine form since joining from Gloucester in the summer. May has already chalked up three tries in his two appearances for the Tigers.

His new team will face his old friends at Gloucester on Saturday at Welford Road. A win will set them on a path that could be the start of the rest of their season.

O’Connor will need to instil a level of confidence into his squad ahead of round three. The fundamentals will be key to securing that first victory. His Tigers side may have suffered more of a pre season hangover with rustiness having crept into their game.

Either way the Tigers will have to dust themselves off and set their season straight.

With the quality and calibre in their ranks, they can’t be written off just yet.

 
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