Leicester Tigers romp to victory over Castres

LEICESTER 54 CASTRES 29

Leicester romped to a seven-try European Champions Cup victory as they ran Castres ragged at Welford Road.

Full-back Telusa Veainu led the way, claiming three of Tigers' touchdowns in a 54-29 bonus point stroll that got them off and running in Pool Four.

Jonny May added a double, continuing a prolific try-scoring start to his Leicester career, while there were also touchdowns for scrum-half Ben Youngs and wing Nick Malouf, with George Ford kicking four conversions and three penalties for a 17-point haul and his brother Joe adding one conversion.

Castres were not powerless to prevent the Tigers inflicting a crushing defeat on them.

But they somehow conjured a losing bonus point following wing David Smith's try treble during 11 second-half minutes and a touchdown from number eight Alex Tulou, while scrum-half Rory Kockott added a penalty and three conversions.

The emphatic success sets Leicester up for key home and away tussles with long-standing European rivals Munster in December, and Tigers could take some stopping as they produced majestic rugby at times.

Leicester showed two changes from the side that claimed a losing bonus point against Racing 92 in Paris last weekend, with former Scarlets centre Gareth Owen replacing Matt Smith in midfield and back-row forward Valentino Mapapalangi taking over from the suspended Mike Williams.

Castres, meanwhile, included ex-Leicester forward Steve Mafi, but they arrived in the east midlands with a miserable European Cup away record against Premiership opposition, having not won on English soil since they beat Harlequins 16 years ago.

And Leicester went ahead inside two minutes when Ford landed an angled penalty after Castres centre Thomas Combezou high-tackled Matt Toomua, which set the platform for a purposeful start.

But when Castres' forwards stirred, they drove powerfully through the middle of Leicester's close-quarter defence with Mafi and flanker Yannick Caballero prominent, and Kockott tied things up through a sixth-minute penalty.

England head coach Eddie Jones and forwards guru Steve Borthwick watched from the stands as Ford restored Leicester's advantage through a second penalty, then he completed his hat-trick as Castres struggled to read referee George Clancy's interpretation.

It got worse for the visitors when Leicester opened their try account after 18 minutes, courtesy of a superb off-load by Mapapalangi to number eight Sione Kalamafoni, who broke clear and chipped ahead before May finished well.

It was England wing May's eighth touchdown in eight games since he joined Leicester from Gloucester - and Ford's conversion opened up a 16-3 advantage inside the opening quarter as Castres struggled to cope with the pace and dexterity of Tigers' handling game.

Prop Ellis Genge was pumped up more than most, and he set the platform for a brilliant two-try burst in three minutes through his power, smashing through Castres defenders as Youngs and then Veainu prospered to put rampant Leicester 28-3 ahead as they rattled along at almost a point a minute.

The hosts' bonus point try arrived when Veainu exploded through another gap, before Ford's conversion took Leicester 32 points clear.

The one-way traffic continued early in the second period as May added a second touchdown following a Mathew Tait break, then Veainu completed his hat-trick as Leicester continued moving at possession at pace, with Castres once again running out of defensive numbers.

Tulou claimed a close-range consolation try for Castres after Mapapalangi had been sin-binned, but Leicester were soon back on the attack, shredding the opposition defence once more as Malouf finished off another quality move and Joe Ford added the extras.

Genge limped off early in the final quarter, and although Smith crossed three times late on, Leicester had long since sealed the deal.


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