Leicester Tigers Development XV got the Premiership ‘A’ League season off to a successful start with nine tries in a 61-12 victory over Worcester Cavaliers at Sixways on Monday evening.
They had to do it the hard way too, coming from two scores down early on, but had a bonus point in the bag before half-time following a quickfire double from Jordan Olowofela, and scores from Harry Simmons and Harry Mahoney as they led 28-12.
And the scoreboard ticked over even more rapidly after the beak with Olowofela completing his hat-trick alongside a second for Mahoney and tries from Charlie Thacker, Joe Maksymiw and Jono Kitto. Fly-half Tom Hardwick kicked eight out of nine conversion attempts.
Summer signing Gareth Owen gained a first run-out for the club, with Valentino Mapapalangi and Jonah Holmes the other summer arrivals to push their claims after being handed starts at Sixways.
Former Bristol prop Kyle Traynor was given an opportunity in the front row after playing in pre-season fixtures and England Under-18 prop Joe Heyes was included among the replacements alongside Loughborough University quartet Callum Lynch, Toby Hutchinson, Matt Travers and Jon Hughes.
Tigers started with the majority of possession but were restricted to using it in the space between the 10-metre lines and it was Cavaliers who broke the deadlock with a try from a lineout drive on the right, No8 Tom Dodd making the final push for the line. Fly-half Sam Hollingsworth kicked the conversion from wide on the right.
They added a second just five minutes later with a blindside break on the left and scrum-half Sam Pointon had enough strength to charge over. Hollingsworth this time pushed the kick across the posts but Worcester had a 12-point cushion.
Will Evans thought he had cut into the deficit just moments later when Tigers capitalised on loose lineout work from the hosts. Hooker Mahoney took play up to the line, Tom Croft and Mapapalangi retained control and Evans reached for the line, only for the referee to blow for a penalty against the support.
Tigers were not to be denied, though, and Olowofela scored twice in seven minutes as Tigers took the lead for the first time.
First, the young full-back got on the end of a sweeping initiated by Owen’s to score on the right and his second was even more impressive, showing good footwork and pace to go through a gap after the scrum had provided a platform inside the Cavaliers 22.
Hardwick knocked over both conversions as Tigers led 14-12.
A third score came from some more good work from the backs, with Olowofela carrying up towards halfway and then Hardwick picking his way inside the defence. When the fly-half chipped the ball forward, Simmons showed electric pace to latch on to it and judged the bounce well to score.
Hardwick again added the extras and then provided a telling contribution for the bonus-point score moments later.
When he nudged the ball into the right-hand corner, Cavaliers full-back Nick David got a hand to the ball and gave away the throw-in, allowing Tigers to take control and hooker Mahoney steered the drive over the line. Hardwick added his fourth conversion as Tigers suddenly led by more than two scores at 28-12.
A fifth try came just three minutes into the second half, with the forward rolling forward on the left and Evans making the final thrust for the line.
And Olowofela collected his hat-trick score with a solo run from near halfway two minutes later, with Hardwick landing his fifth successful conversion as the lead reached 40-12.
Number six came just after the 50-miniute mark, with Mahoney involved on the left and, when Tigers recycled, Hardwick found support from Thacker who beat the first tackle and ran in. Hardwick again added the extras.
There was more to come, too, with Hardwick continuing to pick his passes and replacement prop Heyes making a 30-metre break before Maksymiw was given a run to the line on the right. Hardwick added the conversion from the touchline.
Jono Kitto’s first involvement was putting the ball into a scrum near halfway on the hour mark and when he collected the ball at the base, he broke to the right and raced away, staying clear to the tryline in the corner. Hardwick thumped the kick over to take the score to 61-12 in the Tigers’ favour.
Cavaliers found themselves down to 14 men when wing Tom Howe was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on as Mahoney made a break on the left but they stood firm as Tigers punted the penalty into the left corner.
Tigers continued to pin the hosts in their own half as coach Brett Deacon emptied the bench in the final 20 minutes.
The next fixture in the ‘A’ league programme is away to Northampton Saints on Saturday. Kick-off is at 7.00pm, following the Aviva Premiership fixture between the two teams at Franklin’s Gardens.
Leicester Tigers Development XV
15 Jordan Olowofela
14 George Catchpole
13 Gareth Owen
12 Charlie Thacker
11 Jonah Holmes
10 Tom Hardwick
9 Harry Simmons
1 Kyle Traynor
2 Harry Mahoney
3 Ben Betts
5 Joe Maksymiw
6 Tom Croft (c)
7 Will Evans
8 Valentino Mapapalangi
16 Callum Lynch
17 Owen Hills
18 Joe Heyes
19 Toby Hutchinson
20 Fred Tuilagi
21 Jono Kitto
22 Matt Travers
23 Jon Hughes
Worcester Cavaliers: 15 Nick David, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Ollie Allsopp, 11 Alex Hearle, 10 Sam Hollingsworth, 9 Sam Pointon; 1 Gareth Milasinovich, 2 Matti Williams, 3 Nick Rigby, 4 Justin Clegg, 5 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 6 Ted Hill, 7 Huw Taylor (c), 8 Tom Dodd
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Kai Owen, 18 Jay Tyack, 19 Aaron Crofts, 20 Owien Harriott-Davis, 21 Josh Nott, 22 Josh Jarvis, 23 Afeafe Haisila Lokotui