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Leicester Tigers favourites for home semi-final in Aviva Premiership


Leicester Tigers returned to Welford Road in style with a five-try showing against old rivals Wasps.

The result means they will be big favourites for a home Aviva Premiership semi-final in the play-offs after pulling eight points clear of third-placed Harlequins with just two games to go.

Ben Youngs scored two of Leicester's tries and was in sensational form all around the pitch as he, and captain Toby Flood, pulled the strings in midfield on Tigers' first appearance on home soil for six weeks.

Graham Kitchener, Rob Hawkins and Adam Thompstone added the others as Leicester were never really threatened after racing into a 21-3 lead after 35 minutes.

With director of rugby Richard Cockerill pulling several of his big-name players long before the final whistle, there will still be plenty of legs in the squad for this weekend's trip to Bath.

Leicester dominated the opening 10 minutes with Anthony Allen looking very dangerous in midfield.

Flood had already missed one penalty when he opened the scoring on 13 minutes from almost exactly the same place on the field.

The 27-year-old added a second penalty soon after, before Tigers scored their first try of a superb first half.

Youngs was the man to dive over the line from close range after the home side had slipped through a dozen phases.

The second try came just five minutes later when lock Kitchener barged through the tackle of winger Christian Wade again, after Tigers had built pressure with good continuity. Flood's conversion attempt from wide on the left was off target

Wade was soon off the pitch with injury and fly-half Nick Robinson was the second Wasp to leave the field before the half-hour mark as the already-depleted visitors suffered more injury misery.

Tommy Bell got Wasps on the board 10 minutes before the interval and added another kick with the final act of the first period.

But they came in between Tigers' third try, which was finished by hooker Rob Hawkins as Tigers again sucked the life out of the Wasps defence with over a dozen phases of powerful runs and half-breaks.

Flood hit the post with his conversion in a swirling wind but Tigers led 21-6 at the interval.

The home side only needed three second-half minutes to secure a try bonus point.

Turning down a kick at goal, they called for a scrum in front of the posts and Jordan Crane's lovely pass to Youngs created space for the scrum-half's second try of the day.

Tommy Bell was in the sin-bin by this time for a deliberate knock-on and, after Elliot Daly had landed a long-range penalty, Leicester scored their fifth try close to the hour mark.

A Tom Waldrom break was followed by quick hands on the left from Ed Slater and Thompstone was in for his ninth try of the season.

He was given an agonising wait and spared some serious blushes though as the TMO was asked to check whether his foot had gone into touch as he ran around to try and get under the posts.

With the score at 35-9 with 20 minutes left, it looked like it could get messy for the visitors. But Tigers used the whole of their bench, with the game well won, and lost the ascendency.

Daly scored a sensational individual try and former Tiger Tom Varndell was ignored in acres of space with 10 minutes to go to end the chance of a scoring a try that could have given his team an outside sniff of a remarkable comeback.

There was plenty of attacking rugby late on but no further scores and Tigers left the field to the delight of another 24,000 sell-out.

Leicester Tigers favourites for home semi-final in Aviva Premiership

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