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Leicester Tigers' Ben Youngs expecting some crackers over Christmas

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Ben Youngs heads to London Irish's Madejski Stadium tomorrow believing that Leicester Tigers are entering an "exciting period".

The 23-year-old scrum-half says he is looking forward to getting back into Aviva Premiership rugby after a two-week break for the Heineken Cup.

There are some crucial games to come in a 13-day spell which will see Leicester visit the Exiles before hosting Gloucester on the 29th, and then travelling to Worcester early in the new year.

With the Premiership's top eight spots so tight, Tigers know that a good run over the festive period will stand them in very good stead for the second half of the season.

Youngs will be hoping to mastermind a few more scores like the one in Italy last weekend when his quick tap-and-go, and even quicker thinking, set Leicester on their way to a stunning 14th-minute 95-metre try that was rounded off by Adam Thompstone.

"I got hold of the ball and saw a load of space out right and I decided to go for it," said Youngs, whose pace and vision has made him England's No.1 scrum-half over the past 18 months.

"When there are guys like Ant Allen, Mat Tait and Adam Thompstone around, there is a huge amount of pace there for us to use.

"Luckily, 13 of their 15 guys were standing in the mud near our line so there wasn't much left when I started running.

"Ant took it up, Tait took it on and Tommo finished it. It was a great try.

"I was pleased to get rid of the ball pretty early and watch Tommo have to run it in with all of that mud around.

"Richard Cockerill (director of rugby) never stops us doing what we want to do and think is right. If it went wrong, he would probably have had something to say, but when it works, it's okay.

"It was a big win for us and we go now go into an exciting period for the club with three league games over Christmas and then the Ospreys and Toulouse.

"We need points over that spell to keep us in the top four and there are big games ahead."

Youngs will be looking to attack again this weekend against an Irish defence that has been porous in recent weeks and let in 76 points over two games against Gloucester in the Amlin Cup.

Tigers' games against the Exiles at the Madejski Stadium over the last few years have been equally high-scoring affairs and Youngs is hoping that the visitiors continue to get the better of them.

"We have come out on top of some close games down there in recent years and we have to make sure that doesn't change," he said.

"They have some good open-field runners and we will have to improve from last week against a team that is better than their position in the table."

After the trip to Reading, Youngs will spend Christmas at home with his family in Norfolk along with two other men who have represented England.

There cannot be many families around the country to share that honour.

Dad Nick was a robust scrum-half in the 1980s and brother Tom made his debut at hooker last month.

"It will be great to see them," said Youngs. "After training on Christmas Eve, I will get in the car and go down the A47 all the way to home sweet home.

"On Christmas Day, I will wake up about 4am, run through to mum and dad and tell them what Santa has got me! I might buy my brother an electric tractor, that will keep him entertained for hours.

"If I can't find one, it may just have to be a firm handshake."


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