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Tigers fortress will be key in the run-in

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It looks like home form will mean everything to Tigers in the run-in to the end of the season - and not just because Welford Road has a reputation as a tough fortress to break.

Since starting the season with away wins over Gloucester and Newcastle – either side of a home defeat against Wasps – Tigers have lost six times on the road.
The only wins on the road since September have been at Bath in the Cup, when a young team showed exactly how to dig in and grind out a game, and at Bristol when the visitors were hanging on in the closing stages against a team who had not yet won a single game.
Tigers have returned from Sale, Saracens and Wasps with barely a return on their efforts, two losing bonus points providing meagre consolation, while Europe has not even hit those levels with three heavy defeats at Glasgow, Munster and Racing.
Tom Youngs described performances as “Leicester Tigers at home and I’m not sure what we are away” after another heavy defeat last weekend, this time in Paris, and it is worth remembering that home games against Munster and Racing do as much to illustrate his point as those horrible away defeats.
Tigers were at their belligerent best in the Champions Cup at Welford Road and showed their attacking intent in the 34-14 demolition of Bath back in Round 4 of the league season in the best three performances of the campaign. But the lack of momentum caused by the dismal run away from home is making those displays difficult to repeat.
In those circumstances home form is going to be vital and the crowd is going to have to play its part too.
Tigers are still well in the mix in the Aviva Premiership, whatever we may think of recent results, but any points dropped at home could prove fatal.
Saints arrive next week in an Anglo-Welsh Cup tie where both sides put an unbeaten record on the line. Victory could pave the way to top spot in the pool and even a home semi-final in that competition – there we are looking at the Welford Road Factor again.
In the league, we welcome Gloucester, Bristol and Exeter in quick succession during February-March, with Newcastle and Sale to follow in the final month of the programme.
The club welcomed crowds totalling more than 100,000 for the four home games up to New Year’s Day and that is just the kind of support that has to be used to the Tigers’ benefit in the remaining four months of a challenging campaign.