Steve Borthwick’s first full season in charge of Leicester got off to a bad start with a tryout win over Gloucester in the opening Gallagher Premiership match at Welford Road.
Borthwick joined last summer before resuming the 2019/20 campaign and he now has full control after leaving football’s recent director Geordan Murphy.
He sat in the stands to watch winger Kobus van Wyk, hooker Tom Youngs, semi-degree tennis player Richard Wigglesworth and replacement hooker Charlie Clare help Leicester clash in a 38-15 win. Half-fly Zack Henry made three penalties and two conversions and his replacement Joaquin Diaz Bonilla made one switch and one.
Gloucester’s efforts were made through handlers James Hanson and Joe Simpson, with midfielder Billy Tweakerrees adding a penalty and a switch. Leicester’s loyalists, watched on TV, can be forgiven for jumping for joy after the bad season they endured during the previous campaign.
The Tigers have returned to their best form in a performance that is perhaps better than anything they’ve played in the past year. The speed of the ball was very sharp, shown in the first attempt of the match when Wigglesworth sent midfielder Jaco Taute down the net for the South African to pass to countryman van Wyk to make Henry redirected.
And the hallmark of Borthwick was Leicester’s second attempt to give the Tigers a 12-0 lead within twelve minutes as the team, in Gloucester’s 22nd, rolled the ball, leaving the visitors down first and leaving Youngs touch the ball.
Twckerrees put Gloucester ahead with a penalty from 20 meters, but after 25 minutes Leicester increased the lead. Henry swung the ball from the left flank from a mess and Taute swung across Harry Potter’s wing, who could easily make the Gloucester player’s brute kick on Gloucester’s pass, but Wigglesworth easily took down the opponent.
Half a fly had converted and Gloucester’s problems were raised when captain Lewis Ludlow suffered an accidental collision in the head that caused him to leave. A long Henry penalty gave Leicester a 22-3 lead, but Gloucester gave himself a bit of hope as Hanson flipped the ball from the 5m line to open the scoring for Cherry and the Whites, but tried try not to change direction.
But a decent match didn’t make up a game and Leicester soon found Gloucester gasping for breath after a neat Simpson goal, a brilliant pass from Ludlow’s replacement, Freddie Clarke, sent in half a scrum. Twistsrees’s transformation created a seven-point gap. but another Henry penalty soon opened up once again in the lead for the Tigers.
Leicester may have yelled for a penalty as Clarke was shown a yellow card for a rough foul on his own way, but that was called a penalty that the Tigers chose to take to touch. Henry delivered his third penalty with 15 minutes remaining, before both Hanson and locker Calum Green were thrown in the trash for a tit-for-tat situation.
And Leicester won and rewarded their effort with a clash for Clare. Bonilla switched and executed a last-minute penalty.