Monday, 26 October 2009

Have the Tigers Lost their Bite?

So far this season Leicester Tigers have been the shadow of the Premiership winning side and Heineken Cup finalists that they were last season. OK, so they might have convincingly beaten Viadana in the Heineken Cup and roared back from 15-26 at half time to draw 32-32 against the Ospreys, but in stark contrast to their try-packed performances in the European competition, Leicester have struggled to replicate such free flowing rugby in the Guinness Premiership. In fact, after round three Leicester had failed to score a single try. Not one. Admittedly, they hadn't conceded any tries either which is testament to their strong defence, however now with six games gone they have only crossed the line a paltry three times. So what is going on with the Welford Road outfit? Have the Tigers lost their bite?

It's true that the Leicester squad has suffered more than most with trips to the hospital this season, as a whole raft of first team players are currently sidelined:

Harry Ellis (knee); Toby Flood (ruptured Achilles); Sam Vesty (hamstring); Geordan Murphy (dislocated shoulder); Alesana Tuilagi (broken foot); and this week Julian White (hamstring) joined the long injury list. Lewis Moody has returned to full team action and last weekend he put in an excellent performance against London Irish. I think Lewis would have won the Man of the Match award had he been on the winning team. To his credit, Leicester coach Richard Cockrill refuses to blame anything on the number of players that are currently unavailable:

"We've got a good squad and whoever we put out at the weekend will be good players. We've been in this position before when we've had injuries and the guys who've stepped in have always fronted up and done a good job for us."

So he's not making any excuses then.

Despite the lack of tries, Leicester are still fifth in the Premiership table with three wins out of six. With such key players missing, Leicester might not have the bite they had at the end of last season but they still managed to claw out a losing bonus point against early title contenders London Irish due to their rock solid defence. Neither London Irish nor Leicester were allowed to play with the flair associated with both these sides and they both cancelled each other turning this game into a scrappy affair. It went down to the wire and Leicester could quite have easily drawn or won the game.

I'm sure the Leicester Tigers will sharpen their teeth in the Premiership soon, and in a couple of weeks there is the small matter of the Anglo-Welsh Cup where they will face Leeds Carnegie at Headingley. I suppose all I can hope for as a Leeds fan is that the Tigers take a little while longer to scratch their way back to the form everyone expects of them, and that Leeds might snaffle a victory. Best get in now, because a Tiger never truly shakes its stripes.

No comments:

Post a Comment