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Howard happy with strength in depth

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The strength in depth of the Leicester Tigers squad was illustrated in a five-try victory over Newport Gwent Dragons in the opening game of this season's EDF Energy Cup campaign on Saturday night. Tigers romped home 41-17 to claim the maximum five points and top spot in Group D.

Irish duo John Murphy and Ian Humphreys scored their first tries for the senior team, with forwards Shane Jennings and James Buckland getting their first scores of the season. A penalty try plus 10 points from fly-half Paul Burke and two conversions from replacement Humphreys completed the scoring in front of another big Welford Road crowd.

"I really liked the ambition we showed - we made a fair few line-breaks and looked dangerous for a reasonable amount of time," said Tigers head coach Pat Howard.

"Leon Lloyd and Alex Tuilagi made their first starts of the season and they provided a threat in different ways. Ollie Smith made his first start too, then Daryl Gibson came off the bench and asked a few questions in that position, so it is very competitive.

"John Murphy started for the first time on the wing at Harlequins last week and I thought I'd give him a shout in his preferred position at full-back this time. He is an interesting player and has only been back playing six or eight weeks after a knee injury, but he has done consistently well in the A League team and it will be really interesting to see how he can progress now he has a foot in the door.

"We tried a different combination in the back row and in the second row Jim Hamilton is coming on in leaps and bounds. We have four quality second rows and that is another competitive position.

"If someone stands out they will get the nod. That is part of the challenge I have made to the guys, not just the younger ones trying to get into the team, but also the established guys."

Tigers continue their EDF Energy Cup programme next Saturday with a trip to Worcester Warriors who also won their opening game, beating Northampton Saints 24-12 at Franklin's Gardens.