Four games, four wins, including three away from home, 17 points gained. And, fingers crossed, no major injuries along the way.
Sure, numbers were down on the players we had away. Tigers have been helped by England’s decision not to take Toby Flood (though he started two of the four games for us on the bench), and their wish for Tom Youngs to maintain gametime during their fallow weeks, as well as the decision to send Ben Youngs and Ed Slater back each week. Compared with previous years, we also didn’t have a second world-class tighthead away with his country.
But we were still without men of the calibre of Croft, Parling and Tuilagi (until the Newcastle game) due to long-term injury even though they weren’t away with England. And we added Cole to that lost before the end of the Championship.
Add the absence at times of guys like Allen, Kitchener, Benjamin and Morris, and the satisfaction levels will rise even further.
The glass-half-full brigade will point at a fixture list which could have been tougher, but don’t forget how each opponent is desperate for points for their own reasons, and the competition gets tighter with every season.
The win at Worcester was crucial. Tigers were under pressure and there were critics pointing to a supposed lack of passion as well as skill. But there was no shortage of commitment and determination in the closing minutes of the game as a wounded Warriors side was denied a first win of the season.
Then came the home win over Gloucester, not the most comfortable afternoon we’ve ever had in the stands as the team made hard work of it at times, but a win’s a win. And Mathew Tait scored his first try of the season in the process.
London Irish came off the back of away wins over Saracens and Wasps to host a Tigers team assumed to be low in confidence and perhaps running out of lucky breaks. The Madejski Stadium, though, saw Tigers start brightly, the travelling fans celebrate tries from Niki Goneva (again), Logo Mulipola and Ben Youngs, and another four points on the board. Admittedly, Irish almost sneaked it and were a knock-on away from victory in the closing minutes. Still, it was a knock-on, they didn’t score, we won.
The final match of the international period saw Tigers go to Kingston Park. Wet and windy conditions played a part in a tight first half, with Falcons giving at least as much as they got. But a try from Goneva sparked Tigers into life and three more followed in the second half, five points added to the total before the long journey home.
The Tig is struggling to remember the last time we won all four games in an international spell. After 16 rounds Tigers are on 49 points, exactly the same as last season. And we all know what happened next.