Ulster fail to tame Tigers’ early assault

Leicester put indifferent domestic form behind them as they made a strong start to their European Rugby Champions Cup Group Three campaign by sinking Ulster at Welford Road.

Ulster fail to tame Tigers’ early assault

However, Ulster left the east midlands with a losing bonus point, and head coach Neil Doak said: “We weren’t as accurate as we had hoped in the first-half, and Leicester got a bit of a lead, but the second half was pretty decent and we got a couple of scores.

“It is a possession game, and if you don’t have the ball, you have to defend quite a bit. They put us under a bit of pressure and capitalised on a couple of our mistakes.

“We talked about the set-piece all week, and if you don’t have possession you are going to be under pressure.”

Meanwhile Manu Tuilagi could be a major doubt for England’s autumn Test opener against world champions New Zealand next month after he went off injured.

The blockbusting centre left the field after just 15 minutes and Tigers rugby director Richard Cockerill confirmed that Tuilagi had suffered a recurrence of groin trouble.

“It is a recurrence of his groin (injury),” Cockerill said. “How bad that is I’ve no idea, but clearly it is not great news? It is a bit of a concern for everyone.”

England coach Stuart Lancaster is already without the likes of Alex Corbisiero, Mako Vunipola. Tom Youngs and Geoff Parling for the autumn games, when England will look to make a statement under a year out from the Rugby World Cup. After New Zealand, they face South Africa, Samoa and Australia.

On the defeat of Ulster, Cockerill added: “First half, we were pretty sharp, and second half we probably kicked the ball too much. I thought we could have scored another try in the first half, but we will take the win.

“We had to get off to a good start. I thought it was a cracking game, a good physical contest. It’s one game, and it is good to win it. There is a long way to go, so we won’t get too excited.

“I thought we controlled field position in the first half, we carried the ball well, we looked good physically and we dominated the lineout.

“What is most frustrating was that we had opportunities to kill the game off in the first half, but I have nothing but praise for the players.

“We have a bucket-load of guys missing, and to beat a good Ulster side is pleasing. We have struggled to get past them in the last couple of years.

Leicester scores: Tries: O. Williams, Kitchener, Burns. Cons: Burns, O. Williams. Pens: O. Williams 2.

LEICESTER: Tait, Scully, M. Tuilagi, O. Williams, Goneva, Burns, B. Youngs, Ayerza, Ghiraldini, Balmain, Thorn, Kitchener, Gibson, Salvi, Crane.

Replacements: Mele for Burns (76), De Chaves for Thorn (43), Barbieri for Crane (64).

Ulster scorers: Tries: Bowe, van der Merwe. Cons: P. Jackson. Pens: P. Jackson 2.

ULSTER: Ludik, Bowe, Payne, McCloskey, Gilroy, P. Jackson, P. Marshall, Warwick, Best, Herbst, Stevenson, van der Merwe, Diack, Henry, Williams.

Replacements: Olding for McCloskey (56), Heaney for P. Marshall (74), Fitzpatrick for Herbst (76), C. Ross for Stevenson (76), Wilson for Williams (56).

Referee: Romain Poite (France).

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