Leicester 31-0 Newcastle: Steve Borthwick’s Tigers make it 11 Premiership wins on the bounce as Ben Youngs and George Ford put on a show at Welford Road
- Leicester scored four tries to seal a bonus point win over Newcastle on Sunday
- They have won 11 straight Premiership matches since the start of the season
- The Tigers are nine points clear of second-placed Saracens in the league table
Leicester did not look like a team unsettled by a salary cap investigation or by Covid disruption. With Ben Youngs and George Ford expertly pulling the strings, the Tigers maintained their imperious purple patch.
The only dark clouds over Welford Road yesterday were of the meteorological kind. Steve Borthwick’s home team adapted to appalling first-half conditions and late changes to their line-up which left two hookers on the bench and a wing in the back row. It will take more than a downpour and an emergency reshuffle to stop this thundering juggernaut.
It was Leicester’s 15th successive win in all competitions this season and an 11th in the Premiership — leaving them nine points clear at the top of the table. They have already amassed more league points than they did in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns.
George Ford was in fine form in Leicester’s crushing victory over Newcastle on Sunday
Steve Borthwick has seen his Leicester side make the perfect start to the season
There was a crowd of 22,515 to see this big win and the fans’ favourite on the day was full back Freddie Steward — one of the new darlings of the England team who firmly eclipsed his opposite number, former Red Rose stalwart Mike Brown.
Up front, the Tigers were propelled to this latest victory by the relentless graft and physicality of Harry Wells and George Martin in the back row and by prop Dan Cole, who is adding layers to his late-career repertoire.
The home players could have been fazed by the allegations of historical salary cap breaches, which threaten to impose brutal penalties on the blameless, current Leicester set-up.
Asked if it had been a distraction, Borthwick said: ‘Not really. We addressed it on Tuesday, told the players the information we had and got on with what we needed to do.’
When pressed on whether the issue was keeping him awake at night, the head coach added: ‘There are things that keep me awake at night but it’s not that!
‘This was a champion team — the best team around. By the time I came here 18 months ago, it was the worst in the league. There was a period when the team and the club had been mismanaged. My job was to lift the team from the bottom of the pile back up.
‘That’s what I continue to try to do each day. Whatever other stuff has gone on behind the scenes in years prior to me coming in or Andrea Pinchen coming in as CEO, is kind of irrelevant. There’s nothing I can do about that.’
So does he fear having everything that has been rebuilt being taken away? ‘I don’t fear that because everything is being investigated and whatever will be, will be,’ added Borthwick.
Matt Scott (above) got a try as Leicester scored four tries to secure a bonus point victory
Newcastle’s director of rugby Dean Richards hailed Leicester’s display against his side
Leicester’s pragmatic kicking game and route-one power took them into a 24-0 lead before the hour mark, with tries by Dan Kelly, Matt Scott and Martin. They had to wait until the closing seconds to claim a last-play bonus, as Freddie Burns’ cross-kick to the right was caught by Harry Potter, who cut inside past Brown to strike.
Newcastle’s director of rugby Dean Richards hailed Leicester No 10 Ford as ‘outstanding’ for the way he controlled the contest. As an iconic ex-Tiger, he also acknowledged how his old club have re-established their formidable identity.
‘Leicester are on a roll,’ said Richards. ‘They play the Saracens-Eddie Jones style of rugby — or the Brendan Venter style — which is kick everything and have a really good kick-chase.
‘It’s effective at club level and it’s what the Leicester crowd will love. From that side of things it’s getting back to the old days — stick it up your jumper and score tries. They’re a good, well-drilled side.’