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Zack Henry provided pivotal penalties in the opening win of the season
Zack Henry provided pivotal penalties in the opening win of the season

This year has wiped out so many parties and plans that an opening-day win on a landmark day for Leicester Tigers flew in the face of the 2020 trend.

Last Saturday marked the 2,500th first-team fixture at what is now Mattioli Woods Welford Road and at least this was a party left unpooped by the pandemic.

Instead, Round 1 brought a warmly-received bonus-point victory for Steve Borthwick and his team.

No one is getting carried away, but everyone enjoyed it. Thank you very much.

Conversation afterwards revolved around the debut performances of Richard Wigglesworth and Jasper Wiese, a first sight of Cyle Brink and Tito Bonilla, the long-distance attack for the opening try and a lightning start which brought three tries in 20-odd minutes.

There was also chat about the spirit to overcome the training ground lockdown and the many positives visible from a first outing since defeat at home to Harlequins of last season just seven weeks earlier.

There were two other points which stood out for The Tig.

First, the tries that brought a 22-3 advantage shortly before half-time were obviously huge in dictating the course of the game, but just as important were those two Zack Henry penalties were in the middle of the second half.

Gloucester had shown their own attacking abilities to bring the gap back to just seven points against a team which, let’s be honest, has not spent a lot of time in the driving seat recently.

But Henry set the scoreboard ticking again. From 22-15, suddenly Gloucester looked up from their labours to see 28-15 with quarter of an hour to play.

Then the other factor that helped make The Tig’s day was the fourth try.

It had taken 25 minutes to score three, but the ability to finally get a fourth after being made to wait another 50 minutes was just as impressive in its own way.

In those early stages, momentum was firmly with the Tigers, and by the end, following the two penalties, they were in control again. But in between, Gloucester had shown some clinical attack of their own, getting the gap down to just one converted score.

In that context, still being able to score a fourth after waiting for so long was another valuable lesson. Not only did it turn a four-point win into a five-pointer, but it took the scoreboard into the morale-boosting mid-30s and allowed everyone to end the day on a high note.

Now the challenge set by Steve and the squad is to build on that in the coming weeks.