Gloucester flatter to deceive away from home against the triumphant Leicester Tigers
Ben Youngs stands up to be counted as Tigers beat subpar Gloucester at Welford Road. A deflating performance from the Cherry and Whites was worlds apart from their round one victory over champions Exeter.
Ben Youngs’ True Colours Shine Though
England scrum-half Ben Youngs took Leicester into the lead with two tries scored in true scrum-half fashion. Youngs made the most of turned Gloucester backs to take a tap penalty five meters out. The England man’s second try came rather fortuitously. After the ball squeezed out of the ruck, quick thinking saw Youngs pounce for the corner, extending the Tigers lead to 14 points. Before half time, former Australian 7’s player Nick Malouf crossed for his first try in the 15 man code, entering half time 21-0. Leicester’s line out was far from perfect, no doubt suffering from the absence of locks Graham Kitchener, Mike Fitzgerald and Dom Barrow.
Cherry And Whites Patchy Performance
Gloucester’s bad luck started before the game had even begun, with fly-half Billy Burns dropping out through injury. A high turnover and penalty rate and a lack of direction saw the West Country side fall short. It wasn’t until the final 20 minutes that the visiting side showed any convincing go forward. Henry Trinder impressed in the first half, which made his withdrawal early in the second half to a head injury so bitter. Seems the injury plagued Trinder continues his poor injury track record. It just wasn’t Gloucester’s day, poor decision making and discipline will headline today’s performance, a real shame after the start of felling Premiership Champions Exeter in round one.
One of the few positives from Gloucester’s game was the try from loosehead, Josh Hohneck. After some lovely play in the outside channels, fellow New Zealander Willi Heinz sent the prop sprinting in for the try. Not for naught, the most entertaining part of the play was Hohneck stepping Tigers’ full-back Telusa Veainu to finish. Jason Woodward was again a bright spark, showing some sublime footwork in attack. Woodward beat 3 defenders, made 2 clean breaks and ran for 154 meters, topping the stats on all three counts.
Mapapalangi Impresses On Debut
Summer signing from Gloucester, number eight Sione Kalamafoni, has struggled to make the impact ball-in-hand that Leicester would have liked. Leicester needed additional go forward from the pack, just as Gloucester did. New addition Valentino Mapapalangi made his debut in place of another debutant, Joe Maksymiw. After a number of injuries, the Tongan international was shifted to eight, with Kalamafoni moving to the blindside. Mapapalangi soon became the go to man for breaking the game line, showing some impressive defensive hits to boot. The Tongan looked dynamic, explosive and offered himself in attack at the right times. Kalamafoni has played well for Leicester, but as more of a flanker than a ball carrying number 8. In oncoming weeks, Mapapalangi may replace fellow countryman Kalamafoni, providing the front-foot-ball that star fly-half George Ford flourishes behind.