It was an easy day at the office for the Leicester Tigers yesterday (Sunday), sweeping aside the flamboyant London Wasps with muscular ease.
The 35-16 final score-line does not accurately portray the dominance Leicester enjoyed in all areas of the game, scoring five tries to the visitors’ one.
Tigers crossed the line twice through scrum-half Ben Youngs, once each for late replacement lock Graham Kitchener and winger Adam Thompstone and there was even a birthday present for hooker Rob Hawkins who was celebrating his 30th birthday.
Wasp scored through emerging talent Elliot Daly, who skipped past a handful of tacklers to touch down a great individual effort. But had Toby Flood had a better day with the boot in a swirling wind, Leicester could have even hit the half century mark.
The biggest story of the afternoon was the stand-out performance by Leicester’s long over-looked inside centre Anthony Allen, who had the 24,000 sell-out crowd on their feet with his elusive running.
The 5ft 11in centre may just be the most intelligent, mature and complete centre in the Aviva Premiership. Allen is a typical Leicester player in that he makes the players around him better and is belligerent and tireless in everything he does, especially in defence.
His tackling performance last week against a powerful Toulon side was nothing short of epic and he didn’t flinch when he was called into action to fell one of the league’s strongest runners Billy Vunipola, twice early on yesterday.
At just 26 Allen feels like he has been a staple member of Leicester’s side for years, and so he has playing 96 times for the club since joining from Gloucester in 2009.
Allen has trained with the England Elite Squad in recent years but never made the last push back into gaining more full honours after picking up two caps against New Zealand and Argentina in 2006. The wait for more caps must surely end this summer when England travel on a two-test tour of Argentina.
On Sunday’s performance, the almost unstoppable centre is maturing into a player of the elk of New Zealand’s Conrad Smith or England and Leicester’s former World Cup winner Will Greenwood.
Likely joining him on the plane to South America will be England Saxon Ed Slater who was named Leicester’s player of the month at Sunday’s game and put in another gritty and powerful performance.
A man with an outside chance of making the trip is Tigers full-back Matthew Tait who has confidence coursing through his veins at the moment after a series of eye-catching performances.
His creativity has ignited the Leicester backs play in recent weeks and his unorthodox switch line sparked the first try of the afternoon.
After years of injury nightmare the full-back is playing his way back into contention for a place in the national side despite England’s abundance of talent in that position.
However the biggest cheer of the afternoon was reserved for Australian Julian Salvi, who received a tumultuous roar from the home crowd when he departed the field. The openside flanker has really been adopted as a cult hero at the club since joining in 2011. His unwavering commitment to the cause, which has caused him to have more than 100 stitches to his head in his professional career, has won him a place in the hearts of the Leicester faithful.
Leicester took their foot off the pedal in the closing stages and the game descended into a bit of brawl in the closing minutes with Fraser Balmain and Manu Tuilagi getting involved in separate incidents. With Macos Ayerza out for the season with a shoulder injury sustained in Toulon last weekend Leicester’s director of rugby Richard Cockerill will be hoping neither men miss any time from disciplinary hearing. At this stage it seems unlikely either incident will be cited.
Leicester’s win guarantees them a place in the play-offs and puts them in prime position to claim the second home semi-final spot.
In other news
Nominations for the Leicester Tigers Supporters Player of the Year Awards have opened.
Nominees for Player of the Season, won by Horacio Agulla last season, are: Anthony Allen, Dan Cole Niall Morris, Geoff Parling and Tom Youngs.
On the shortlist for Young Player of the Year are: Fraser Balmain, Sam Harrison, Graham Kitchener and
Manu Tuilagi. Last year’s winner was Steve Mafi.
Looking to join 2012 winner Thomas Waldrom as Newcomer of the Year winners are: Dan Bowden, Vereniki Goneva and Adam Thompstone.
The nominees for the Outstanding Service Award, presented to Julian White last year, are: Marcos Ayerza, Martin Castrogiovanni and Louis Deacon.
To vote for the awards visit www.leicestertigers.com/voting