Leicester Tigers have defeated Ampthill 64-14 at Mattioli Woods Welford Road to remain top of their pool in this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup.
Matchday captain Nic Dolly’s first-half hat-trick was the highlight of an excellent performance from an inexperienced Tigers group, head coach Dan McKellar having now used 36 players in the first four games of the 2023/24 season.
Dolly got the scoring going with the first of his three five-pointers, the international hooker showing good pace to be in support of Phil Cokanasiga who provided the final pass.
Cokanasiga was instrumental for Tigers’ second try, the centre scything through the visitors defence before being clawed down close to the line. Scrumhalf Tom Whiteley was on-hand to pick and dive across the line, with Jamie Shillcock finding the range from the tee to make it 12-0.
Leicester’s maul, which was strong throughout the afternoon, saw young backrower Emeka Ilione grab the third try of the game before a superb pass from Shillcock saw Harry Simmons cross for the pick of the first half tries.
Ampthill got on the scoreboard through Charlie Bracken, a well-worked move seeing flyhalf Gwyn Parks pop to the scrumhalf to score under the posts.
Tigers responded, the maul again proving too powerful for Dolly’s second try, the hooker’s third coming off a piece of trickery at the lineout five metres out, the score 36-7 as the teams headed for the changing rooms.
The visitors came out firing in the second half, launching straight into an attack which resulted in loosehead prop Zac Nearchou bludgeoning over the line for a well-deserved try.
Tigers couldn’t quite replicate the fluidity in attack they showed in the first forty minutes but continued to pile on the pressure, with number eight Kyle Hatherell and replacement hooker Archie Vanes crossing to extend the Tigers lead.
Shillcock’s converted both efforts to bring Tigers’ tally to 50.
Ampthill stayed in the fight admirably as Tigers head coach Dan McKellar continued to blood the young talent on the bench. Leicester's youngsters would set Mattioli Woods Welford Road alight with eight minutes to play, Finn Carnduff and Joshua Manz combining brilliantly with crafty offloads and genuine speed, Guy Porter benefiting to grab a try not long after coming on.
A final flourish would come in the last minute of the game with prop Francois Van Wyk burrowing over the line to edge Tigers past the 60-point mark. Shillcock's conversion as the clock hit 80 minutes made it 64-14.
Leicester Tigers 50 (36) (T: Dolly 3, Whiteley, Simmons, Ilione, Vanes; C: Shillcock 4) defeat Ampthill 14 (7) (T: Bracken, Nearchou; C: Parks 2)