Sunday, 24 February 2013

Superb Sarries Stun Terrible Tigers

A second half slump condemned Tigers to 32-27 defeat against 2011’s Champions Saracens.  Four tries, all in the second period, meant that the Londoners left Welford Road with all 5 points and have opened up a 5 point cushion between themselves and the chasing Tigers in 3rd place.  England trainer David Strettle bagged two of the tries and also gifted Tigers their losing bonus by conceding a penalty try with the clock dead.

For the third time in four matches Tigers started brightly but were undone by an atrocious second half.  A pick and go from Julian Salvi gave Tigers their first try before possibly the try of the season stretched the lead to 14 points.  It started from a scrum in the shadows of their own posts, strong pressure from Wigglesworth forced Ford to abort his kick to touch and step inside him, after beating one man he found Murphy who scythed through midfield up to the 10 meter line.  Adam Thompstone was next to touch the ball as he held off Saracens’ James Short for a good 10 meters to stay infield, with the visitors torn asunder George Ford spotted there was no full back at home and chipped through for Bowden to finish off the try with a simple touchdown.  Phew, like the score in Treviso before Christmas we went the length of the field in a little over 30 seconds and was some of the best rugby you’ll ever see anywhere in the world.

But we seemed a little too pleased with ourselves after it.  We gifted Hodgson a penalty to get them back into before half time then simply decided to shut up shop in the second half.  Despite the massive gains we made in the first half by running the ball at them, especially Geordan Murphy down Joel Tomkins channel, we seemed content to just hoof the ball away around the half way line.  These were probably meant to be piercing corner coffins to build the pressure on Saracens and dominate the field position but instead they were lame ducks that gave Sarries all the possession they wanted. 

In isolation all the kicks were pretty decent but they added up to Tigers surrendering possession and momentum.  I know we play rugby football, but a little bit more rugby and a little bit less football would be better to watch and more effective on the field. 

For the first try Saracens built a good platform inside the 22 with multiple forward carries, until Neil De Kock, a recent replacement, found David Strettle who simply gassed Matt Smith to slide through Tigers defence and score from 15 meters out.   Perhaps Hamilton was too far over, or the forwards didn’t wrap round the previous ruck properly, but Smith with left with a fair size area to defend and he was unable to do it.  Just 4 minutes later Short was like a greased Otter as he slid past Adam Thompstone then Murphy fell off the final tackle.  Just terrible defence all round from Tigers typified by a disturbing lack of intensity.  Thompstone was caught in no man’s land, he either had to rush and pressure the man, hoping to find the ball too, or be passive and try to shepherd the man into touch. 

At least going behind stung Tigers back into some form of action, Murphy was to the fore again as he broke the line on half way and fed Hawkins on the outside.  Had the former Bath man been on really top form he would have spotted Hamilton on his inside and possibly clear to the line, but it would have required a superb spot and then the skill to get the pass away.  Taking on De Kock and recycling the ball wasn’t a bad option really just there might have been the sniff of a try.

Sarries third try was really about the impact of their replacements, De Kock had lifted the tempo and it was his break around the fringe, exposing yet more lazy defence from the Tigers, which set up the try.  Back to his feet he was at the ruck in a flash and spun the ball out to League man Tompkins who threw a lovely cut out pass for Strettle on the wide outside.  There was nothing Hamilton could really do as the damage was already done. 

Tigers attacked well and got the penalty to get back within touch but practically straight from the kick off we were back in trouble.  Tired defending from Crane and Ford let Fraser through a mid field gap to establish a ruck well into our 22, 3 phases later and Saracens span the ball wide to their left.  Not a special move particularly just running at the line with some purpose, Dan Bowden missed the midfield tackle and Chris Wyles shrugged off Murphy’s attempt to stop the grounding.  It was just a standard tackle missed; Bowden will be embarrassed watching that back in the morning.

Then we come to the final play.   Saracens actually had the ball with the clock dead but manful work from the brilliant Tom Croft won us the turnover on the 22, we did nothing really with it until it came back to Croft on the right wing after a JC fumble.  Croft rolled back the years to show his power and pace to get within 5 yards of the line.  Ford’s cross kick was caught by Thompstone but he couldn’t find the scoring pass and the move went on.   Taylor was shown a yellow card for a ruck offence and from that penalty came Strettle’s knock down and Tigers penalty try.

Watching the game back it just reinforces my view from the terrace, the team was tiring visibly and yet Cockerill sat on his hands and made no subs until the goose was cooked.  Fresh legs from Chuter, Balmain and Deacon might have got us round those rucks and killed their tries at source.  There is only so much blame you can put on tired players.

Cockerill needs to either trust his bench or deliberately keep players in reserve for these final flings.  To lose once from a winning position is a misfortune, to lose three seems like carelessness.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Saturday Night Fever

Geordan Murphy and Tom Croft return for Tigers as they look to bounce back into the home play off spots following last week's loss to Harlequins.  The two returnees are amongst 7 changes for the Tigers as international call ups deprive them of  Tuilagi, Flood and Waldrom for last week's line up whilst Allen and Deacon are ruled out injured.  

Murphy's return comes at the expense of profligate full back Mat Tait who moves onto the bench, whilst Tom Croft's long term slowly slowly come back from his neck injury means Brett Deacon makes way for the Lions flanker. 

Both centres are changed as Matt Smith comes in at outside centre for the England starting Tuilagi whilst Dan Bowden is given another shot at 12 as Anthony Allen recuperates from his knock picked up last week.  Summer departee George Ford rounds out the back line changes as he comes in for Toby Flood.  

In the pack other than Croft the other changes see Ed Slater take over from the injured Louis Deacon, hopefully it is nothing too serious as although Slater is a fine player Deacon provides the granite needed in the hottest of environments, and Jordan Crane restored as the fine English gent Thomas Waldrom goes off to represent Queen and Country at Twickenham.  Crane's return may well be strengthening the side as he his a canny operator and real leader for this team.  The back row of Croft, Salvi and Crane has a nice balance to it and we knoe Croft and Crane work extremely well together.  Kitchener makes his 30th appearance for the club in the second row.

Saracens have rolled out the big guns for this titanic top of the table clash.  Former Nottingham man Chris Wyles is restored at fullback following last weeks resting of a small injury as is Schalk Brits the effervescent hooker.  He is named beside Welsh loosehead Rhys Gill, shame tighthead Matt Stevens, former England captain Steve Borthwick and South African Alistair Hargreaves in an all international tight 5.  

Joel Tomkins, Will Fraiser and David Strettle have all this week been training with Stu Lancaster's England team so will be looking to press their claims of a Six Nations start in this Saturday night showdown.

The referee will be our old friend JP Doyle.  Doyle's last Tigers game was the controversial last minute victory away to Worcester where Doyle awarded two penalty tries, the only time in league rugby he's ever awarded more than one.  Prior to that he has refereed another 10 times, with the only defeat coming this season away to Gloucester.  His last encounter with Saracens was their "home" game against Northampton, staged in Milton Keynes; Saracens won that game by a single point after Stephen Myler's last second 60 yard penalty struck the bar.  His previous 6 Saracens games have yielded 5 wins for the Londoners, so both sides will be confident of the referee going into the game.  In the league this season he's dished out 13 yellow cards in 12 games, not quite the 19 in 9 games that Wayne Barnes has managed but rather a lot all the same, worryingly 8 of those 13 have been to the home side so he can't be accused of being a home town ref.

Once again it is an indictment of Premiership Rugby's stewardship of the game that such a high profile fixture is played without her best players.  England take 5 Saracens players and 7 Leicester players whilst both sides also contribute another nation's captain as Kelly Brown and Martin Castrogiovanni lead Scotland and Italy respectively.  Add in the missing injured players and there is roughly 20 first choice players missing out 30.  You can't control the injuries but you can control the fixture schedule to make sure our best fixtures are played with our best players.

15 Geordan Murphy (c)
14 Scott Hamilton
13 Matt Smith
12 Dan Bowden
11 Adam Thompstone
10 George Ford
9 Sam Harrison
1 Marcos Ayerza
2 Rob Hawkins
3 Logovi'i Mulipola
4 Ed Slater
5 Graham Kitchener
6 Tom Croft
7 Julian Salvi
8 Jordan Crane

16 George Chuter
17 Kieran Brookes
18 Fraser Balmain
19 Brett Deacon
20 Richard Thorpe
21 Micky Young
22 Matt Cornwell
23 Mathew Tait

15 Chris Wyles
14 James Short
13 Joel Tomkins
12 Adam Powell
11 David Strettle
10 Charlie Hodgson
9 Richard Wigglesworth
1 Rhys Gill
2 Schalk Brits
3 Matt Stevens
4 Steve Borthwick (c)
5 Alistair Hargreaves
6 Jackson Wray
7 Will Fraser
8 Ernst Joubert

16 John Smit
17 Nick Auterac
18 Petrus du Plessis
19 George Kruis
20 Justin Melck
21 Neil de Kock
22 Nils Mordt
23 Duncan Taylor

Thursday, 21 February 2013

2 Tigers for Le Petite Crunch

2 Tigers academy players have been named in England Under 20s side to take on their French equivalents at Worcester's Sixways this Saturday.  Henry Purdy retains his place on the wing from the close loss away to Ireland whilst Harry Wells moves into the starting lineup to replace Ross Moriarty; the Gloucester flanker was red carded in the last match for a tip tackle and banned for 7 weeks.  Wells's move mirrors the senior England teams decision to play Courtney Lawes at blindside as he has played most of his rugby at Tigers as a lock.

15 Ben Howard (Worcester Warriors)  
14 Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers)
13 Mark Jennings (Sale Sharks)
12 Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs)
11 Jack Arnott (Exeter Chiefs)
10 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
9 Alex Day (Northampton Saints)
1 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)
2 Nathan Morris (London Wasps)
3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)
4 Elliott Stooke (Gloucester Rugby)
5 Dom Barrow (Leeds Carnegie)

6 Harry Wells (Leicester Tigers)
7 Joel Conlon (Exeter Chiefs)
8 Jack Clifford (Harlequins) (c)
16 Danny Herriott (Northampton Saints)
17 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints)
18 Scott Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
19 Tom Jubb (Saracens)
20 David Sisi (London Irish)
21 Callum Braley (Bristol Rugby)
22 Ollie Devoto (Bath Rugby)
23 Tom Stephenson (Northampton Saints)

Capitano Castro

Martin Castrogiovanni will celebrate his 94th test for Italy by captaining them against Wales in the Stadio Olmipico on Saturday.  Castro captains Italy for the third time overall, and for the first time in the Six Nations Championship.  Castro is undefeated in his previous two matches as captain after wins against Canada and the USA this Summer.  Italy haven't beaten Wales since 2007 so Good Luck Castro!

Italy: Andrea Masi; Giovanbattista Venditti, Tommaso Benvenuti, Gonzalo Canale, Luke McLean; Kristopher Burton, Edoardo Gori; Andrea Lo Cicero, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Martin Castrogiovanni (capt), Antonio Pavanello, Francesco Minto, Alessandro Zanni, Simone Favaro, Manoa Voaswai
Replacements: Davide Gizazzon, Alberto de Marchi, Lorenzo Cittadini, Quintin Geldenhuys, Paul Derbyshire, Tobias Botes, Luciano Orquera, Gonzalo Garcia.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Academy Lads in a league of their own

The inaugural Premiership Under 18s league came to an end last Saturday as Tigers completed the only 100% record in either conference gaining 30 points out of 30.  The last match was the closest as they traveled to Northampton and won 32-26, the only time they let their opposition away with either the Try bonus or Losing bonus all season.  

Three players started every game: Wrexham winger Rhys Williams, Cornish Fly Half Oli Bryant and Leicestershire's own Neale Farthing at prop; with another 9 players playing some part in every game.  Famous surnames were in action as Oliver Povoas and Harry Thacker played some part in every game, Povoas playing a year up as a 16 year old and Thacker as one of the 3 over age players allowed on pitch at any one time.

Tigers used 36 players from 7 countries, including Canada, Zimbabwe and Italy, as well as 7 over age players and 7 16 year olds over the six games.  In the final game Tigers used two players on loan from Clermont Auvergne, Arthur Itarria and Francois Fontaine, whilst in the first used Zimbabwean Full Back Brandon Mandivenga as well as youth Rugby League international Hershall Ward.  40% of the appearances were made by players from Leicestershire.

Tigers scored 209 points to their opponents 68 and 32 tries to their opponents 6, only conceding tries against Gloucester and Northampton.  Those 32 tries were spread between 14 players with Harry Thacker topping the try scoring charts with 6, next nearest was flanker Jake Farnworth with 5 tries.  20 of the 32 tries were scored by forwards with the back row accounting for 13 of them.  Top points scorer was ever present fly half and captain Oli Bryant with 55, consisting of 2 tries, 15 conversions and 5 penalties.

The most selected players in each position were:
O Perry Humphreys; N David Williams, M Henry Purdy, L Javiah Pohe, K Rhys Williams; J Oli Bryant, I George Prince; A Owen Hills, B Harry Thacker, C Neale Farthing; D Matthew Hubbart, E Joe Maksymiw; F Oliver Povoas, G Ed Milne, H Will Owen.

15/12/2012 Leeds (H) W 30-9
6/1/2013 Worcester (A) W 32-9
13/1/2013 Newcastle (A) W 38-0
26/1/2013 Gloucester (H) W 48-15
9/2/2013 Sale (H) W 29-9
16/2/2013 Northampton (A) W 32-26

Monday, 18 February 2013

Door Mat Welcomes Quins back to Top

Top of the table Tigers crashed to their first defeat at the Stoop since 2003 and fell to third in the table.  The final score was 25-21 to the Londoners with Ben Botica slotting 7 kicks to compliment Danny Care’s try.  Tigers actually out scored their hosts 2-1 in the try stakes with Toby Flood and Adam Thompstone touching down but a litany of penalties were their downfall.

Touching on the referee it is rather amazing that Wayne Barnes (incidentally living in Twickenham) didn’t give a single penalty against Quins defence after the first 30 seconds.  With nice disdain for the fans he also didn’t signal what that was for nor did the ref mike pick it up.  But hey why would we need to know what he’s actually thinking?  We’re only paying his wages.

Tigers had actually started rather brightly, in a change from their usual sluggish beginnings this winter, getting plenty of good possession in Quins 22 before Barnes blew for obstruction against Manu.  Things were looking decidedly up when Nick Easter threw a terrible floated pass and Toby Flood darted in to steal the ball; nobody could catch him as he raced away for his second intercept try of the season.

Quins’ first penalty was quickly registered though when Logovi’i Mulipola was adjudged to have bored into Mark Lambert at a scrum.  Flood and Botica then traded penalties as Danny Care was off side from a kick and Tigers were called for handling the ball off their feet when Quins were attacking.   Mulipola was then the villain again as he was fingered for collapsing a maul; the fact that the maul didn’t collapse apparently didn’t bother Barnes nor the countless times that Quins “disrupted” possession on the other side.  Another set of penalties, with Mulipola again being the Tigers penalised, were traded before Tigers got their second try.

After another 50/50 scrum call, this time in Tigers favour, the visitors had a lineout in the Quins 22 on the left hand touchline.  Allen made a strong burst through the middle before play was switched the right hand touchline with Rob Hawkins.  Strong carries from Slater, Mulipola and Manu Tuilagi took play back to the left with Sam Harrison doing well to secure the ball at the final ruck.  After maintain possession he fed Flood who dinked through a chip with the outside of his right boot, Thompstone won the race and after an age for a TMO review the score was given. 

Flood missed the extras and the halftime score stood at 18-12.

That was about as good as it got for Tigers. 

In the second half Mr. Barnes (of Twickenham, coincidentally) whistled Tigers off the park whilst only the intervention of touch judge Ashley Rowden saw Barnes rule out a Quins score for the most blatant of blocks.

That was later though, straight after half time Tigers were still playing well and had the momentum.  A sliced kick after strong Tigers pressure fell into Harrison’s lap and he jinked his way to within yards of the line.  When Quins’ Ugo Monye released his man is perhaps a mystery only Barnes will ever be able reveal as rather than penalise his fellow south-west Londoner he ruled Leicester’s Sam Harrison was holding on.  From the kick to touch Barnes again harshly penalised Tigers for a lineout offence.  Watching it back I just can’t fathom what he has seen to blow his whistle.  Quins two lifters form a block ahead of the ball carrier, so he could have blown for us, but after that nothing else happens. 

His next penalty was also crucial.  Tigers had been attacking reasonably brightly with Flood content to kick behind Ross Chisholm when nothing was particularly on.   Joe Gray and Jordan Turner-Hall steamed round the side of a ruck to take out Harrison, turning the ball over after Barnes again didn’t see fit to punish his neighbours.  Staggeringly he decided that Toby Flood, lying a good yard from the ball at the next ruck was committing some sort of offence.  Care sensed his opportunity with Tigers defence all over the place from the turnover and went quickly.  Salvi could have taken him early but in the mood Barnes was in he probably would have been red carded, Care then ran straight through Mat Tait.  Strong carrying no doubt from the Leeds man but Tait should be disgusted with his effort.  If he had made any impact on Care’s pace at all, even the smallest road bump, Rob Hawkins and Anthony Allen were on hand to tackle Care well short of the line instead he made as much impact as a door mat.

Tait may be bright and pacey in attacking but his defence is atrocious and his body language is possibly the worst I’ve ever seen in the game.  His head literally drops whenever he makes a mistake and he exudes weakness and frailty.  Geordan Murphy is not retired yet, in the same no-sentimentality mindset that saw Deano edged out for Eric Miller we should play the better man and at the moment that is the elder statesman from Dublin. 

That try gave Quins they were never to lose.  About ten minutes later Barnes again showed his disdain for the public by not signalling what a penalty was for; Quins were only 10 meters short of the Tigers line and it was in a ruck is all that I can tell you.  Quins looked to be battering us in that next spell and were in the process of scoring their second try when Tigers were saved by the Touch Judges flag.  Matt Hopper took out Matt Smith to make a hole for Ben Botica to race into, somehow Barnes wasn’t watching (didn’t want to watch?) and it was only the intervention of Ashley Rowden from the touchline that saved the day.  Even then Barnes couldn’t actually bring himself to rule against his fellow Londoners so had to check with the TMO. 

Reminded that Quins could actually infringe the laws of the game he finally awarded Tigers another penalty himself when Manu Tuilagi was prevented from a turnover by Ollie Lindsey-Hague holding on.  Flood cut the gap to a solitary point.  Tigers were now bearing down on Quins and had a scrum on Quins 10 meter line.  Danny Care was clearly tackling Sam Harrison without the ball and was also past the ball so offside.  Barnes surely saw this; the whistle was in his mouth set to blow.  But no he didn’t even put out an arm for advantage.  Flood might not have got the kick of course but now we’ll never know.

Flood kicked to the corner to put Quins under huge pressure as their lineout had been shaky all game.  But once again Mr. Barnes had to intervene on behalf of Quins.  Ed Slater went up for the ball and got a hand on it, it was only strong hands from George Robson that stopped it being a crucial turnover.  But Barnes wasn’t interested in players only himself and his whistle.  Tigers were resolute and turned Quins over from the next lineout once again only for Barnes’s whistle to pierce the air for a twentieth time.  This time we’d come in from the side apparently.  Where had Gray come from before Care’s try? 

From the resulting lineout Quins Garryowen was contested by Scott Hamilton and Ugo Monye.  Barnes ruled that this was a mess and Quins were going forward rather than Hamilton had caught a kick and had no time to do anything with it.  That is a 50/50 call, you aren’t going to get all of them but this time we got none of them.  Quins scrum marmalised a tiring Tigers front row, Cockerill had in his wisdom decided not to use any front row subs, and there could be no moaning about that penalty.

There was still time for Barnes to, for the third time, blow his whistle without making any signal to the crowd or giving any hints to the TV audience about its provenance before Quins decided to not risk the win for the sake of depriving Tigers of their losing bonus point and ran the ball out.

The referee was very poor and halted our momentum time and time again, but if Mat Tait makes his tackle I don’t think we lose that game.  Quins never really looked like breaking us down even with their fast paced attacking game, and arguably the difference was really the 6 points they gained from the scrum.  In the long run this game doesn’t really affect our chances of winning that elusive 10th title, we know we can beat Quins and we know that we can lose to them too.  What we have to do now is focus on making sure all our key players are fit and firing for Toulon then the Premiership play offs. 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Stars return for Welsh

Tigers return to Premiership action a month after their get out of jail win away to Worcester.  Tigers make 13 changes from the side humiliated  in Llanelli last weekend as only Mat Tait and Logovi'i Mulipola retain their places.

The official web site is report this to be Matt Smith's 100 start for the club, but from their own records he achieved that feat against Toulouse.  They are also including his starts against Jersey, Ulster and Nottingham but not any other "pre-season" game form previous years.  So by my reckoning its either his 98th start or well over with 100th.  

Whatever the numbers it seems certain that he has achieved or is about to achieve the feat of being the first son of a Tigers player who started 100+ games to also start 100+ games.  His father of course being club legend Ian "Dosser" Smith, who as well as playing 331 games over 14 years was also the coach when they won the Cup in 1993 against Harlequins and the league in 1995.

This looks to be Tigers strongest side given the 8 players missing with the Six Nations; Tom Croft will be hoping for a longer appearance than the 10 minutes he managed against Wasps as his comeback continues.  Along with Jordan Crane and Julian Salvi he forms possibily Tigers most balanced back row since the title winning side of 2010 where Moody teamed up with Crane and Croft to such great affect.

Controversially George Ford is restored to the starting line up despite deserting the club in the summer in pursuit of "regular game time" (He's making his 10th appearance of the season and 34th in total for the club0 and despite his shocking performance last weekend against Scotland 'A'.  His saving grace was probably Dan Bowden's poor performance in Llanelli.

Tomorrow's referee will be Tim Wigglesworth, his last game at Welford Road was December's battle against Bath where he showed 3 red and 2 yellow cards.  His red card for Brett Deacon is only card he's ever shown to a Tigers player.  This will also be his second London Welsh game of the season after officiating their bonus point defeat at home to Wasps on the 29th of December.

15 Mathew Tait
14 Niall Morris
13 Matt Smith
12 Anthony Allen
11 Adam Thompstone
10 George Ford
9 Sam Harrison
1 Marcos Ayerza
2 Rob Hawkins
3 Logovi'i Mulipola
4 Louis Deacon (c)
5 Graham Kitchener
6 Tom Croft
7 Julian Salvi
8 Jordan Crane

16 George Chuter
17 Boris Stankovich
18 Fraser Balmain
19 Ed Slater
20 Brett Deacon
21 Micky Young
22 Dan Bowden
23 Geordan Murphy

London Welsh are also hit by international call ups as they are missing Eastern European power houses Paulica Ion and Kirill Kulemin to Romania and Russia respectively, the side actually play each other in Bucharest this weekend.  They also give Gonzalo Tiesi his premiership debut for his third club after previous spells at London Irish and Harlequins.  They also tantalisingly name Gavin Henson on the bench, so far his season has been disrupted by a back injury but when fit he almost inspired the Welsh to a win over Saracens.

Tomorrow will also be a chance to welcome back Adam Balding to the club.  Balding played 86 times for the club and won 4 League Titles in his 6 year spell at the club.

London Welsh: 
15 Tom Arscott
14 Phil MacKenzie
13 Gonzalo Tiesi
12 Sonny Parker
11. Nick Scott
10 Gordon Ross
9 Tyson Keats
1 Franck Montanella
2 Neil Briggs
3 Greg Bateman
4 Jonathan Mills (c)
5 Matt Corker
6 Adam Balding
7 Michael Hill
8 Ed Jackson. Replacements: 
16 Dan George
17 Tom Bristow
18 James Tideswell
19 Martin Purdy
20 Ed Williamson
21 Seb Jewell
22 Gavin Henson
23 Rob Lewis

Ben's 30th Already

Ben Youngs will win his 30th cap when he steps out on the Aviva Stadium turf this Sunday.  3 years after his debut away to Scotland the Tigers ace has already played in wins over Australia and New Zealand for England and beaten South Africa with Leicester.  Alongside him will be older brother Tom making his 6th consecutive start after his debut this Autumn.  The Tigers in the starting line up are rounded out by Dan Cole, winning his 37th cap, and Geoff Parling, winning his 14th.

Manu Tuilagi is named as a replacement for the first time in his 17 match test career, and only the 6th time in his senior career.  He is joined on the bench by Toby Flood, who in contrast will earn his 20th cap from the bench, and number 8 Thomas Waldrom. 

England (v Ireland, Sunday 3pm, Aviva Stadium, Dublin)
15 Alex Goode (Saracens, 7 caps)
14 Chris Ashton (Saracens, 30 caps)
13 Brad Barritt (Saracens, 12 caps)
12 Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester, 1 cap)
11 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 12 caps)
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 13 caps)

9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 29 caps)
1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 6 caps)

2 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 36 caps)

4 Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 5 caps)

5 Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers, 13 caps)
6 James Haskell (London Wasps, 46 caps)
7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, 13 caps) (c)
8 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 14 caps)

16 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 43 caps)
17 David Wilson (Bath, 23 caps)
18 Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 5 caps)
19 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 16 caps)
20 Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers, 4 caps)
21 Danny Care (Harlequins, 38 caps)
22 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers, 54 caps)
23 Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 17 caps)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Ex-Files: Volume IX

After a bit of a hiatus the Ex-Files returns with news from the international arena.  Billy Twelvetrees made a dream international debut as he grabbed a try in England’s win over Scotland; Graham Rowntree of course is England’s forwards coach.  Benjamin Kayser came off the bench for France as they crashed to a second consecutive loss away to Italy, the week after playing an hour for Clermont as they lost to Perpignan.  In the European Nations Cup Cesar Sempere knocked over two drop goals including a monster from 50 metres, as Spain came up short against Russia in Sochi.

Last week’s LV Cup saw Sam Vesty kick 7 points in Bath’s win against Gloucester at Kingsholm, Horacio Agulla played 56 minutes on the wing.  Robin Cowling won the battle of the forwards coaches as his Exeter side beat Dorian West’s Northampton side 28-19 at Sandy Park courtesy of 13 points from the boot of Ignacio Mieres who this week announced he was moving to Worcester in the summer where he will be replacing Andy Goode, who slotted a solitary conversion as Worcester lost at home to Paul Gustard’s Saracens, Richard De Carpentier made his 4 start for the Warriors in the match.  Ian Humphreys played the final 20 minutes as London Irish lost 10-6 away to Cardiff.  Sale ended Tigers interest in the LV Cup as they won 33-30 away to Wasps, there was a clash of former Tigers opensides as Sale’s James Doyle faced up to Wasps’ Matt Everard, the Londoners also started Marco Wentzel and Tom Varndell as they failed to maintain their undefeated record at Adams Park.  Further up the M40 Ian Nimmo started for Newport as they beat a London Welsh side containing Joe Ajuwa.

In the RaboDirect Pro 12 Andy Tuilagi grabbed his third try of the season for Newport in their Boxing Day derby lose to Cardiff.  Shane Jennings and Leo Cullen both played in Leinster’s bonus point victory against Neil Back’s Edinburgh on January the 4th, whilst in the Heineken Cup Grieg Tonks scored his first try for Edinburgh against Saracens, Tonks also made an impressive debut for Scotland A in their victory over England Saxons last Friday with Tom Ryder starting in the second row for the Scots.

Nottingham stormed into second place in the Championship as they beat Bedford 25-17 at Meadow Lane.  Ex-Tigers were in abundance as 10 were involved in the game; Ollie Dodge made his comeback after a broken leg in Blue’s midfield whilst Phil Boulton spent ten minutes in the bin for the away side.  Ben Gulliver and Greg Gillanders were also in the Blues 8 who faced up to Matt Parr, Joe Duffy, Michael Holford, Dan Montague, Alex Shaw and captain Brent Wilson in the Notts pack.  Newcastle are still out in front with 13 wins out of 13 as Dean Richards and John Wells look for a quick return to the Premiership.  Diccon Edwards Leeds side won their rearranged game with Plymouth Albion, if you don’t know why I’d suggest checking it out it’s too long to tell fully here but an indictment of the former Premiership side; Calum Green played for the Yorkshire side with Tom Bowen on the wing for the Devonians.  That pushed Leeds into the play offs ahead of Bristol the week after Bristol, with James Grindal starting, had edged ahead with a win against Leeds.  Relegation threatened Doncaster lost again at home to London Scottish 14-9, Will Simpson and Jethro Rawling starting for the Knights and Dante Mama coming on for the final moments.  Jersey benefitted as they moved further towards safety with a 13-10 win at home to Rotherham; it was a tense end as Jersey were down to thirteen men after a sin binning for Dave Markham, Ross Broadfoot also featured for the Channel Islanders.

In Italy’s Excellenza David Young is still an ever present for Lazio, starting three more games and picking up a yellow card against Mogliano.  Lee Robinson has returned from injury for L’Aquilla and grabbed the third try in their thrilling come from behind victory against Crociati; as late as the 74th minute the Parma side were leading 22-10 but a yellow card allowed L’Aquilla to score three tries, gain the bonus point and overturn the deficit for a 29-25 win, their first of the season.   In Serie A Mitchell Turner and Will Lawson have both started 2 of 3 games for Romagna since Volume VIII, though they have lost them all to slip to 7th in the league.   

In Japan the season is already over and both Ben Herring’s NEC Green Rockets and Alesana Tuilagi’s NTT Shining Arcs missed out on the play offs, finishing 8th and 9th respectively.  Tuilagi didn’t have the best season scoring only twice but did outshine Sonny Bill Williams on his debut so it wasn’t all bad.

France and Pro D2 now, Ayoola Erinle has been playing most game for promotion chasing Carcassone, featuring at both wing and centre.  In what is news to me but certainly not recent activity it turns out Luke Abraham retired from Lyon in the summer, which is why he’s not played for them this season.  For Narbonne Vavae Tuilagi made his first appearance for 4 months when he came off the bench to face La Rochelle and backed it up with another bench appearance against Brive a week later; both Vavae and Henry Tuilagi, still occasionally turning out for Perpignan, are rumoured to be transfer targets of Carcassonne in the summer.  Phil Christophers showed that tries are like buses as he waited until his 14th game of the season to bag his first try, against Massy as Aix-en-Provence won 34-22, before getting his second in the very next game to secure the losing bonus point at home to Aurillac 24-30.

Lucas Amorosino has been struggling for game time at Montpellier, starting in a loss away to Perpignan back in December and since then only playing 23 minutes off the bench in two Heineken Cup games.  Christophe Laussucq’s Stade Francais side are struggling along in 9th in the Top 14 but secured a vital bonus point victory over play off rivals Grenoble, Julian Dupuy played his part with 3 penalties and 3 conversions; they go to Bath in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter finals after topping their pool.  Ephram Taukafa and Seru Rabeni were both part of the Mont du Marsan side that lost a close a one to Toulon, with Rabeni being yellow carded moments after joining the fray in the 76th minute.

In National League 1 Scott Bemand’s Loughborough Students staged a remarkable comeback from 40-7 down to win 42-40 with Joe Atkinson getting two of the six tries for the Students.  Cambridge have announced Craig Newby as their new First Team Coach and his impact was immediate as they lost a hard fought match 7-9 to Richmond, Jon Hale returning after his fractured skull got the games only try as the Cambridge side also featured Rob Conquest and Michael Gillick. Ollie Smith’s Esher side won 34-22 away to Sedgley Park as they aim to keep the pressure on leaders Ealing.

A league lower and since our last update Stourbridge have lost their perfect record in National 2 North, however they are still going strong and recorded their 19th try bonus point out of 21 games.  Brothers Rob and Will Hurrell have been in the thick of the action as both started the win against Caldy, Will claimed his 11th try of the season; Utility back Will Hurrell has also been called up for England Counties games this Spring.  Leicester Lions picked up another win as they beat Luctonians with Jon Boden collecting a penalty, three conversions and a yellow card; Estonian international Luke Veebel also played for the Lions. 

In the Southern section Sam Raven was in Hartpury College’s second row as they lost 31-29 to Canterbury whilst Shelford overcame Luke Beales‘s yellow card to win 30-15 at home to Bournemouth.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

2 Tigers in U-20s for Irish test

5 days after making his first team debut against Llanelli Scarlets lock Harry Wells is set to make his bow for England at Under 20 level away to Ireland.  Released from England duty last week to cover for Saxons trio Graham Kitchener, Ed Slater and Louis Deacon Wells come straight on to the bench.  Into the team is winger Henry Purdy who has made a big impact since his summer move from Wasps, scoring 6 tries in 4 A league games as well as 1 try in 3 U-18 League games.  He replaces the injured Anthony Watson from London Irish, allegedly a summer transfer target for Tigers, as Ben Howard switches to Full Back from wing.

England Under 20s
15 Ben Howard (Worcester Warriors)
14 Jack Arnott (Exeter Chiefs)
13 Mark Jennings (Sale Sharks)
12 Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs)

11 Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers)
10 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
9 Alex Day (Northampton Saints)
1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints)
2 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)
3 Scott Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
4 Elliott Stooke (Gloucester Rugby)
5 Dom Barrow (Leeds Carnegie)
6 Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby)
7 Joel Conlon (Exeter Chiefs)
8 Jack Clifford (C) (Harlequins)

16 Max Crumpton (Saracens)
17 Nathan Morris (London Wasps)
18 Danny Herriott (Northampton Saints)
19 Tom Jubb (Saracens)

20 Harry Wells (Leicester Tigers)
21 Nathan Fowles (Sale Sharks)
22 Will Hooley (Northampton Saints)
23 Tom Collins (Northampton Saints)

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Six Nations Round Up: Castro inspires Italy to win Garibaldi Trophy

Martin Castrogiovanni's 12th test match try in 92 games was the winning score as Italy overcame France in Rome's Stadio Olmpico.  The Crumbie Terrace favourite played the first hour in the historic 23-18 win, only Italy's 2nd over France in the Six Nations.

Geoff Parling scored one of England's 4 tries in their win over Scotland at Twickenham, set up by a searing break by clubmate Ben Youngs.  Moments earlier England had had a try ruled out for foul play Tom Youngs, apparently for a dangerous clear out of the ruck but no conclusive footage has become available as yet.  Dan Cole anchored a dominant scrum whilst Toby Flood replaced former Tiger Billy Twelvetrees with 10 minutes of the match remaining.  

On Friday night up in Newcastle 5 Tigers were part of the England Saxons side that were beaten 13-9 by Scotland 'A'.  George Ford slotted England's three penalties with Jordan Crane leading the side from number 8 and Graham Kitchener played the whole game at lock.  Ed Slater and Kieran Brookes were late replacements but couldn't find a score as the Saxons battered the Scots line in the closing stages.  Former Tigers Grieg Tonks and Tom Ryder were both in the Scotland 'A' side.

Also on Friday night young Academy prop Tiziano Pasquali started for Italy Under 20s as they took on France Under 20s at home.  Pasquali played for the first hour of the match that the Italians lost 6-13.

Scarlet Letter for Tigers

A second half collapse left Tigers embarrassed in Llanelli as they surrendered a four point lead at half time to lose 40-19.  First half tries from Waldrom, Forsyth and a penalty try were wiped out as Llanelli scored three tries of their own in a ten minute purple patch. 

The embarrassment was not only on the score board though as Tigers scrum disintegrated when young Ryan Bower and Fraser Balmain were introduced to the extent that Balmain was singled out, rather harshly, for a yellow card and the scrums reduced to uncontested as Stankovich and Mulipola were “injured”.  This is worrying either way; either they actually are injured or we’ve basically just wimped out of actually playing the game.  This was a good example of the influence of the second rows on the scrum, as much as I rate Harry Wells he won’t yet have the shoving power of Louis Deacon, after all when Deacon was 19 he didn’t have the power he does now.

The first half was actually pretty good from Tigers, though hardly one for the ages.  After finally getting our hands on the ball we won a penalty that Mat Tait pushed to the corner; the maul was set and Thomas Waldrom was powerfully driven over from 5 metres.  Persistent infringing kept Llanelli in the game and they had built a 12-5 lead by the next time Tigers had the ball in the Llanelli 22.  Hooker and captain Emyr Phillips was binned for coming in the side and dragging a maul down, then Andy Fenby was binned for deliberately knock on when Tigers had a 5 man over lap.  The referee would have been well within his rights to go under the posts there and then but it didn’t take long as one powerful scrum from Tigers saw the referee march under the posts.

The third try was very well worked.  Again a penalty was kicked to touch but this time the ball was used wide.  Waldrom and Chuter took it up before the ball went wide right to Goneva.  He broke a tackle and set up a ruck just inches short; Tigers went wide left this time and Llanelli were outnumbered, Andy Forsyth walking in untouched.

At half time both sides swapped a prop; Llanelli brought on Fijian captain Deacon Manu whilst for Tigers Fraser Balmain replaced Boris Stankovich.  This ended Tigers scrum dominance but the real problems didn’t emerge until Mulipola left the field injured and Ryan Bower found himself in the unfamiliar position of loosehead.  Rob Andrew was binned for taking a man out in the lineout, then Balmain was binned for persistent standing up in the scrum. 

This was when Llanelli decisively pulled away.  Their first try was very fortunate on two counts; first it came from a terrific counter ruck from Tigers, second the man who played the ball was part of the ruck and therefore offside.  With all our men committed to the ruck Llanelli were able to run it in unopposed.  The Welshmen’s second try was a simple cutting of an angle by full back Gareth Owen, slicing through the Tigers line and running in from 40 metres.  The third came just a couple of minutes later and will be one of Geordan Murphy’s less memorable moments of his 400 odd first class career.  A nothing kick through seemed to like it was just running into touch but centre Nick Reynolds didn’t give up on it and got a foot to it to keep it in.  Murphy now flat footed was beaten to the touch down and Tigers embarrassment was complete.

This was meant to be a dress rehearsal for London Welsh next week and keep the wining momentum up.  On those terms this game was a miserable failure.

Friday, 1 February 2013

6 Nations Look Forward

Attention turns to the Six Nations this weekend as the 2013 edition kicks off.  Tigers have representation in the England test team, England Saxons team, Italy test team and Italy under 20s team.

On Saturday brothers Ben and Tom Youngs start for England against Scotland at Twickenham; Dan Cole and Geoff Parling also start whilst Toby Flood is named on the bench.  Cole is the most experienced player in the England starting lineup with 35 caps.  Ex-Tiger Billy Twelvetrees will make his debut at 12 after his summer move to Gloucester.

Tonight England Saxons travel to Newcastle's Kingston Park to take on Scotland 'A'.  Tigers have 5 players involved; departing George Ford starts at 10 with the impressive Graham Kitchener at lock and our Lord and Saviour JC captaining the side from number 8.  On the bench are forwards Kieran Brookes and Ed Slater.

Also tonight Italy Under 20s are at home to France's equivalents and feature young Tigers player Tiziano Pasquali at tighthead.

Martin Castrogiovanni starts for Italy at tighthead as they aim to repeat their famous 2011 victory over France.

England (v Scotland, Saturday, 4pm)
15 Alex Goode (Saracens, 6 caps)
14 Chris Ashton (Saracens, 29 caps)
13 Brad Barritt (Saracens, 11 caps)
12 Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester, uncapped)
11 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 11 caps)
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 12 caps)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 28 caps)
1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 5 caps)
2 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 4 caps)  
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 35 caps)
4 Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 4 caps)

5 Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers, 12 caps)
6 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 13 caps)
7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt, 12 caps)
8 Ben Morgan (Gloucester, 9 caps) 

16 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 42 caps)
17 David Wilson (Bath, 22 caps)
18 Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 4 caps)
19 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 15 caps)
20 James Haskell (London Wasps, 45 caps)
21 Danny Care (Harlequins, 37 caps)
22 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers, 53 caps)
23 David Strettle (Saracens, 12 caps)

England Saxons (live on Sky Sports 2, 8pm kick-off)
15 Elliot Daly (London Wasps)
14 Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
13 Joel Tomkins (Saracens)
12 Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins)
11 Tom Biggs (Bath Rugby)
10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
9 Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
1 Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors)
2 Joe Gray (Harlequins)
3 Paul Doran-Jones (Northampton Saints)

4 Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers)
5 George Robson (Harlequins)
6 George Kruis (Saracens)
7 Will Fraser (Saracens)

8 Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers, captain)
16 Rob Buchanan (Harlequins)
17 Nick Wood (Gloucester Rugby)

18 Kieran Brookes (Leicester Tigers)
19 Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)

20 Jamie Gibson (London Irish)
21 Joe Simpson (London Wasps)
22 George Lowe (Harlequins)
23 Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)

Italy Under 20s: 15 Angelo ESPOSITO (Benetton Treviso)*
14 David ODIETE (Zebre Rugby)*
13 Michele CAMPAGNARO (Benetton Treviso)*
12 Giovanni BENVENUTI (Marchiol Mogliano)*
11 Filippo GUARDUCCI (Marchiol Mogliano)*
10 Edoardo PADOVANI (Marchiol Mogliano)*
9 Simone MARINARO (Fiamme Oro)*
8 Maxime MBANDA’ (Rugby Grande Milano)*
7 Jacopo SALVETTI (Cammi Calvisano)* - capitano
6 Gianmarco VIAN (M-Three San Donà)*
5 Vittorio MARAZZI (Crociati Rugby)*
4 Andrea TROTTA (Nuova Rugby Roma)*
3 Tiziano PASQUALI (Leicester Tigers Academy)
2 Alain MORICONI (UR Capitolina)*
1 Sami PANICO (Mantovani Lazio)*
16 Luca CONTI (L’Aquila Rugby)*
17 Luca SCARSINI (Cammi Calvisano)*
18 Rudy BIANCOTTI (Valtellina Sondalo)*
19 Giacomo RIEDO (Zhermack Badia)*
20 Davide RIMPELLI (Crociati Rugby)
21 Marcello VIOLI (Crociati Rugby)*
22 Filippo BUSCEMA (UR Capitolina)*
23 Samuel SENO (Benetton Treviso)*

15 Andrea MASI (London Wasps, 72 caps)
14 Giovanbattista VENDITTI (Zebre Rugby, 9 caps)
13 Tommaso BENVENUTI (Benetton Treviso, 23 caps)
12 Alberto SGARBI (Benetton Treviso, 23 caps)
11 Luke MCLEAN (Benetton Treviso, 41 caps)
10 Luciano ORQUERA (Zebre Rugby, 29 caps)
9 Tobias BOTES (Benetton Treviso, 8 caps)

8 Sergio PARISSE (Stade Francais, 91 caps) – captain
7 Simone FAVARO (Benetton Treviso, 16 caps)
6 Alessandro ZANNI (Benetton Treviso, 69 caps)
5 Francesco MINTO (Benetton Treviso, 2 caps)
4 Quintin GELDENHUYS (Zebre Rugby, 33 caps)

3 Martin CASTROGIOVANNI (Leicester Tigers, 91 caps)
2 Leonardo GHIRALDINI (Benetton Treviso, 48 caps)
1 Andrea LO CICERO (Racing-Metro Paris, 98 caps)

16 Davide GIAZZON (Zebre Rugby, 5 caps)
17 Alberto DE MARCHI (Benetton Treviso, 4 caps)
18 Lorenzo CITTADINI (Benetton Treviso, 16 caps)
19 Antonio PAVANELLO (Benetton Treviso, 13 caps)
20 Paul Edward DERBYSHIRE (Benetton Treviso, 16 caps)
21 Edoardo GORI (Benetton Treviso, 19 caps)*
22 Kristopher BURTON (Benetton Treviso, 18 caps)
23 Gonzalo CANALE (La Rochelle, 77 caps)

Tigers name big guns for LV Cup shoot out

Tigers name a very strong side to face the Scarlets on Sunday in the hope that Wasps can do us a favour the day before and limit Sale to a win without a bonus point, Wasps have named a stronger side than last week and are defending an unbeaten record at Adams Park.  Tigers make 4 changes to the side that defeated Wasps as Sam Harrison is replaced by Micky Young, George Chuter replaces Rob Hawkins, Harry Wells replaces the injured Tom Price and Thomas Waldrom replaces Tom Croft after being released this week from the England squad.

On the bench Ryan Bower comes into the fold in place of Jonny Harris after featuring for Nottingham against Bedford last weekend.  George Oliver and Matthew Hubbart are in line to make their Tigers debuts, Oliver, 19, is an openside flanker from Hinckley who has featured for Rotherham this season whilst Hubbart, 18, has been an ever present in the Under 18s and gets his chance due to the spate of injuries and international call ups at lock.  At the other end of the experience scale Geordan Murphy makes his come back from injury in the number 23 shirt.

Andy Forsyth makes only his 15th start for the Tigers and will be looking to press his claims again after an impressive performance last week.  Sam Harrison will make it 40 appearances if he features from the bench whilst Richard Thorpe makes his 10th appearance in The Stripes.

Sunday's referee will be Greg Garner from Coventry.  It will be Garner's 6th Tigers game and only his second away game, the other when Tigers beat Bristol back in 2009 with Dan Cole scoring a brilliant individual try by bumping off Mark Regan and running in from 20 yards.  His last Tigers game was our tense derby victory over Northampton back in November.  He has never shown a yellow card to a Tigers player and only once refereed us in a loss, the unforgettable thrashing from Saracens at Welford Road during last seasons World Cup.  Garner was in the same school year as Andy Goode and James Grindal at King Henry VII School in Coventry, surprised I've never seen that mentioned before really.

15 Mathew Tait
14 Scott Hamilton
13 Andy Forsyth
12 Matt Cornwell
11 Vereniki Goneva
10 Dan Bowden
9 Micky Young
1 Boris Stankovich
2 George Chuter
3 Logovi'i Mulipola
4 Rob Andrew
5 Harry Wells
6 Brett Deacon (c)
7 Richard Thorpe
8 Thomas Waldrom

16 Rob Hawkins
17 Ryan Bower
18 Fraser Balmain
19 Matt Hubbart
20 George Oliver
21 Sam Harrison
22 Andy Symons
23 Geordan Murphy 

Llanelli Scarlets name 9 of the side that conceded a try bonus point against Sale last week, other than that I have very little to say as I've barely heard of any of them.  Andy Fenby was impressive for Newcastle whilst he was studying in the North East 3 seasons ago scoring 2 tries in 3 games whilst Sione Timani is a Tongan test player previously with Carmarthen Quins who was selected ahead of Steve Mafi for the 2011 World Cup, which must make him a pretty decent player really!  Kieran Murphy bagged a brace on his debut against Leicester in the LV Cup two years ago so is another one to keep an eye out for.

15 Gareth Owen
14 Kyle Evans
13 Nick Reynolds
12 Adam Warren
11 Andy Fenby
10 Owen Williams
9 Aled Davies
1 Rhodri Jones
2 Emyr Phillips (c)
3 Jacobie Adriaanse
4 Jake Ball
5 Johan Snyman
6 Sione Timani
7 Lewis Rawlins
8 Kieran Murphy
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Shaun Hopkins, Deacon Manu, Richard Kelly, Duane Eager, Gareth Davies, Aled Thomas, Dale Ford

The match kicks off on Sunday at 13:35 and is live on S4C, Sky channel 134, with commentary in English on the red button.

Pasquali Props up Italy Under 20s

Tigers Academy prop Tiziano Pasquali has been named in Italy's front row for their match against France tonight in the Under 20s version of the 6 Nations.  Rome native Pasquali has been involved with the Tigers for two years but has yet to feature for the first team or the extras.  He was however "24th man" for the Premiership game against Wasps when we were missing all our international props and Stankovich was suspended.  

With Tom Price injured, Harry Wells with the first team and Henry Purdy and Scott Steele not selected for their nations Pasquali is the only Tiger cub in action this weekend in the Under 20s 6 Nations.  So good luck Tiziano and do your country proud!

Italy Under 20s:
15 Angelo ESPOSITO (Benetton Treviso)*
14 David ODIETE (Zebre Rugby)*
13 Michele CAMPAGNARO (Benetton Treviso)*
12 Giovanni BENVENUTI (Marchiol Mogliano)*
11 Filippo GUARDUCCI (Marchiol Mogliano)*
10 Edoardo PADOVANI (Marchiol Mogliano)*
9 Simone MARINARO (Fiamme Oro)*
8 Maxime MBANDA’ (Rugby Grande Milano)*
7 Jacopo SALVETTI (Cammi Calvisano)* - capitano
6 Gianmarco VIAN (M-Three San Donà)*
5 Vittorio MARAZZI (Crociati Rugby)*
4 Andrea TROTTA (Nuova Rugby Roma)*
3 Tiziano PASQUALI (Leicester Tigers Academy)
2 Alain MORICONI (UR Capitolina)*
1 Sami PANICO (Mantovani Lazio)*

16 Luca CONTI (L’Aquila Rugby)*
17 Luca SCARSINI (Cammi Calvisano)*
18 Rudy BIANCOTTI (Valtellina Sondalo)*
19 Giacomo RIEDO (Zhermack Badia)*
20 Davide RIMPELLI (Crociati Rugby)
21 Marcello VIOLI (Crociati Rugby)*
22 Filippo BUSCEMA (UR Capitolina)*
23 Samuel SENO (Benetton Treviso)*