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Two kicks that go such a long way

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He had one of the shortest stays at the club in recent years, but The Tig is grateful for two enormous contributions Ryan Lamb made to the Tigers cause in his seven appearances.

Lamb, a player with more than 900 Premiership points in a career with four clubs before announcing a switch to Worcester Warriors this week, arrived in the summer as experienced cover for Toby Flood in the fly-half slot.

But, with Flood left out of the England squad for this Six Nations and young Owen Williams developing his game as a No10 contender, Lamb’s chances have been limited, especially after missing the autumn international period with a broken hand while Flood was away.

Critics will recall Lamb passes being picked off for intercept tries at Bath in the league and in the cup at Harlequins, but we must not forget the more telling contributions in two games against Montpellier.

In the home fixture Tigers raced into the lead, then Welford Road erupted as Miles Benjamin scored his first two tries for the club to stretch the advantage to 24-3 with barely a quarter of the game gone.

Montpellier were still a danger, though, and there was a collective gasp for air when they got ball in hand, coming back to 24-18 by half-time. Tigers then piled forward and grabbed a bonus-point score from Jamie Gibson on the way to a 35-18 lead.

But the visitors flew back at Tigers, making the most of broken-field possession to claim a try bonus of their own as the clock approached the 80th minute.

That cut the advantage to six points at 38-32 and home hearts were in mouths once more. One break, one lucky bounce, one piece of brilliance or one unfortunate error and Montpellier could potentially plunder full points. Nerves were jangling in a 21,00-strong crowd.

Lamb, often a risk-taker in attack, looking for gaps, capitalising on defensive dog-legs and trying to exploit weaknesses, had been on the pitch for just five minutes but stayed cooler than almost anyone in the stadium. As Tigers gained possession in the visitors’ 22, the replacement fly-half dropped slightly deeper, yelled for the pass and punted over a drop goal which pushed the lead out to nine points and put Tigers out of reach.

That little kick secured five priceless points and denied Montpellier more than a single point reward from the game.

A week later, a lower-scoring tussle in the return saw Tigers snatch a first win in France since 2006, with Lamb’s 79th-minute conversion separating the sides by a single point.

Incredibly, the game was locked at nil-nil at half-time before Tom Youngs provided the breakthrough score. Montpellier, though, led 14-8 with 10 minutes to go.

Lamb, on as a replacement for Flood, kicked a 35-metre penalty to provide hope and then had the unenviable task of landing a conversion following Vereniki Goneva’s score in the 79th minute to put Tigers ahead once more.

Goneva had run round from a wide position to dot down closer to the posts, but with the stadium still buzzing as Tigers turned the game on its head, Lamb had to calm down quicker than the rest of us. One big deep breath later, he controlled his kick and Tigers led 15-14, Montpellier had been denied another three points in Pool 5 and we were back in Europe.

Thanks Ryan, and good luck at Warriors.