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Howard not getting carried away

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Pat Howard's Leicester Tigers squad delivered the perfect Christmas present to the club's supporters by moving to the top of the Guinness Premiership following Friday night's 43-15 win over Bristol Rugby at Welford Road. But with two more games to come in the Guinness Premiership up to New Year's Day, head coach Howard was not getting too carried away, despite seeing six of his players run in tries against the previous league leaders.

"Gloucester didn't play their game, so I don't want to read too much into it," said Howard. "But we are in the position in the top four, where we want to be. The outcome was great - five points out of the game, they got nothing out of it and we were five points behind them at the start of the day. We let them in for a couple of cheap tries, whereas we had to work hard for our scores, but there were some good performances."

Tries from Shane Jennings, Ian Humphreys, Jordan Crane, Tom Varndell, Dan Hipkiss and Louis Deacon ensured the victory and the bonus point as Tigers began the busiest period of the season with a win.

"This period is a big test of everybody's squad and, hopefully, if we have done the right things medically and in getting organised, then we can come through this period well," said Howard. "I will change the full team on Tuesday. We have been preparing for this period since August and we knew how hard it would be. We know at London Irish on Tuesday we will see guys like Harry Ellis, Andy Goode, Lewis Moody and Martin Corry and we will see if we can put a good show. Most of the guys who played against Bristol will go out again in 10 days' time, hopefully well rested and in good condition."

Howard was particularly impressed by the back-row combination of Jennings, Crane and Luke Abraham, who all also starred in the win over Wasps during the autumn internationals.

"The three of them worked very well as a combination and individually in the win over Wasps and they backed that up with another good performance on Friday," he said. "They are all good runners, they are abrasive at the breakdown and showed good penetration in attack. They worked well as a combination and as individuals."