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Bite in attack and defence shows Tigers at their best

Geordan Murphy seemed reluctant to be drawn on describing the performance against Gloucester as his team’s best of the season, but we can all have a pretty good guess at what he really thought.

The fact that it was impossible to find someone in the Tigers team who did not impress told its own story.

There were obvious headliners as Jonny May scored two textbook tries and had a hand in another, Jonah Holmes looked full of purpose and pace at full-back and George Ford got the bonus-point score to put the cherry on the icing on the cake of his own man-of-the-match performance.

Matt Toomua’s no-look pass for Holmes and his replacement Kyle Eastmond’s delayed pass for May’s second try showed the playmaking ability available to Murphy when a platform for possession is established and the way Ben Youngs read the play and then released May towards the tryline showed the scrum-half at his best.

It was as bright an attacking performance as the final 20 minutes against Scarlets back in October, and the defensive effort was far better.

To see Tigers pin a team as good as Gloucester inside their own 22 during the final moments with the game well and truly won spoke volumes for the appetitie at both attack and defence.

As head coach, Geordan wouldn’t want to highlight individuals and it is perhaps unfair on Manu and Jordan Olowofela, who both played their full part, that they are not mentioned in The Tig’s backline highlights above, though it also proves how much else there was to admire in the game.

One Sunday newspaper described Tigers as “almost hysterical” about dominating the breakdown against Gloucester and every one of the forwards had their moment in leading that charge.

The scrummagers enjoyed their day and Dan Cole got a huge reception when he made way in the closing stages having got through a huge shift. His tackle as one of the Gloucester fliers threatened a break on the touchline in front of the Holland & Barrett Stand in the first half will have equally thrilled and embarrassed legions of front-rowers watching from the sidelines but said more than words ever could on his contribution.

In rugby, you win or lose as a team and the proof of that was right there in red, white and green on Saturday, especially against a Gloucester side who looked every bit like contenders for the top four by the end of the season.