Leicester Tigers recorded an historic bonus-point victory in the team’s first-ever Women’s Championship fixture at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Saturday.
Four tries in the first half paved the way for an impressive win over the defending league champions and two more followed the break as Tigers won 36-0.
Tighthead prop Ofure Ugiagbe had the honour of scoring the first try on home ground and further scores quickly followed, with a bonus point in the bag before half-time, reached with a 26-point lead.
The second half yielded one more try as Tigers made it two wins from two games in the team’s first season of league rugby in front of an appreciative home crowd.
Led out by Leicester-born captain Natasha Jones, Tigers immediately had to defend a lineout in the corner but held up Cheltenham progress and then enjoyed a spell in attack, helped by a lineout steal from Abi Gale on the opposition 22.
Zoe Evans and then Jones broke through tackles to keep play at that end of the field until the opening try. Ugiagbe, who had previous experience of the Tigers stadium in her Varsity matches, became the team’s first league scorer at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, making the final push over the line after some pressure among the forwards. Katie Childs added the conversion.
The second try, though, came on 20 minutes from Kat Turner as a result of converting another spell of pressure and a strong run for the final metres to the line. Childs converted to make it 14-0 midway through the half.
A third soon followed, with Gale making the final pick-up and drive from possession close-in and the bonus-point score was added by Becky Noon approaching half-time after sharp interplay featuring Gale and second-row partner Westwood. Childs added the extras for a 26-0 lead.
Tigers had to defend that when centre Charlie Manns attacked to the left from a penalty, but the line stood up well and bundled play into touch to go in at the break with the lead intact.
McBrien joined the scoresheet five minutes after the restart, providing the final push for the tryline after more pressure from forwards Turner and Rebecca Church.
There were no further scores in the next quarter, though Tigers did get through disciplined defence and then pushed the visitors back for the closing stages of the game in the autumn sunshine, when hooker Sam Williams added try number six from a lineout drive.
More good defence followed with Evans blocking out danger on the wing and then the forwards standing up to phases of rival possession just 10 metres from the tryline to ensure the shut-out.