Leicester Tigers made it three league wins in a row with five tries in a 34-5 triumph over Worcester Warriors at Sixways on Sunday.
An eighth try of the season from Jonah Holmes got Tigers in front, only for Warriors to score from a lineout drive to tie the scores midway through the first half.
But another try from prop Greg Bateman, following his score in the win at Saracens last week, pushed the visitors in front again shortly before half-time
On a big day of Round 17 action in the Aviva Premiership with top two Exeter Chiefs and Saracens going toe to toe at Sandy Park, and Wasps and Bath also in action, a Toomua penalty stretched the lead to 10 points before Telusa Veainu’s try pushed Tigers further in front entering the final 10 minutes.
The bonus-point try was credited to Manu Tuilagi before Veainu added another in the closing minutes
After a week of snow and freezing temperatures which led to a number of disruptions in the Aviva Premiership programme, the outlook improved considerably on Sunday morning. With the last remaining snow banked on the edges of the Sixways artificial surface, however, the hour ahead of kick-off brought a succession of torrential downpours as the teams went through their warm-up drills.
Rain was still falling as Warriors fly-half Jamie Shillcock got the game under way and Tigers had an early penalty on halfway after Spencer took Telusa Veainu out beyond a ruck. Mike Williams claimed lineout ball and set up a series of phases 30 metres from the Warriors line, but the home defence kept their rivals out.
Warriors gained their first period of possession after being awarded a penalty at a lineout in their own 22, but a knock-on meant they could not completely clear their own territory.
Scrum-half Johnny Arr then darted through a gap in the Tigers defence before another knock-on as Warriors reached the 22-metre line.
The breakthrough for Tigers came on 13 minutes, stemming from a 60-metre break from Veainu and finished by Holmes.
It was Holmes who retrieved possession as Warriors kicked upfield and he passed to full-back Veainu who went on a 60-metre run from inside his own 22 before Sam Harrison took play on up towards the tryline. When the scrum-half was tackled in the right-hand corner, play quickly switched to the opposite flank and Holmes ran in for his eighth try of the season. Toomua’s conversion attempt struck the inside of the post and bounced out but Tigers led by five.
The sun finally broken through as the game approached the 20-minute mark, though a succession of handling errors and players losing their footing affected the flow of the game with possession shared between the 10-metre lines.
Warriors, however, claimed their breakthrough score on 23 minutes with a lineout drive in the right-hand corner finished by flanker Alafoti Faosiliva. Chris Pennell’s conversion hit the near post and bounced dead with the scores level at 5-5.
Worcester sensed a second score when centre Jackson Willison picked off a pass from Tait near halfway, but Holmes raced back to make the tackle and the ball bounced forward as Faisolivia hacked ahead and play came back for a Tigers scrum.
It was a last contribution from Holmes who limped off, replaced by Nick Malouf at the same time as Williams was helped off, with Luke Hamilton coming into the back row.
Loose play around halfway allowed Faosiliva to run at the Tigers defence, but he spilled ball forward in the tackle and Malouf was able to gather and clear.
A perfect turnover from Brendon O’Connor near halfway gave Tigers valuable possession and a chip in behind the Warriors from Toomua kept the hosts penned back in their own territory and Tigers got their reward with a try from Bateman.
After a strong run from Harrison, taken on by O’Connor and Tom Youngs, Bateman arrived in support and brushed off the final defender to score what is becoming a trademark try for the prop.
Toomua added the conversion kick for a 12-5 lead with five minutes remaining in the half and there was no change before the break as the forwards ticked the clock down in possession.
The Australian fly-half had the first opportunity to build scoreboard pressure in the second half when Tigers were awarded a penalty 42 metres out and he struck it cleanly to increase the lead to 15-5 on 45 minutes.
A high tackle on Veainu as he looked to counter-attack gave Tigers a penalty which Toomua pushed down the left touchline to the edge of the Worcester 22 as the visitors pushed for a decisive score. A succession of phases had Warriors fully committed in defence before Manu Tuilagi almost found a way through, only for the ball to spill loose.
Warriors, though, were still held inside their own territory as Tuilagi had another charge in midfield, but this time Tigers knocked-on as they recycled 20 metres out.
Malouf and Adam Thompstone showed their strength under the high ball as Worcester looked to kick clear as play again was locked around halfway and Malouf provided a priceless turnover as Faosiliva threatened close in but Tigers then had to stand firm in defence through a series of phases just five metres from their own line before Pennell spilled possession.
Warriors scrum-half replacement Luke Baldwin was hurt during that attack and required treatment on the pitch before being stretchered off to warm applause from the crowd.
Play restarted with a scrum, which brought a Tigers penalty, and Toomua took play beyond halfway with the kick to the left touchline. Tigers dominated possession but were unable to find a way in behind the Worcester defence.
A lineout offence from Worcester allowed Toouma to again push Tigers upfield and this time their patience in possession was rewarded with a try from Veainu in the right-hand corner.
Tuilagi, Cilliers and Hamilton were involved in a succession of carries before Harrison spread play to the right and Toomua’s chip was read perfectly by Veainu to score on the right and push Tigers 20-5 in front with 68 minutes gone.
O’Connor was hurt as Warriors pushed forward from the restart, with Joe Ford taking his place in a reshuffled line-up and Malouf moving into the back row.
Tigers showed patience in abundance again as they pursued the vital fourth score and it came with just under three minutes remaining, the forwards pushing through phase after phase of possession before Tuilagi dotted down and more followed when a break by Tuilagi led to another try from Veainu, kicking ahead and winning the race to the ball. Toomua added the kick in the final action of a good day's work for the Tigers.