London ball

‘The Nadolo show’: Leicester Tigers player ratings after London Irish win

Leicester Tigers got back to winning ways with a 47-28 bonus point win over London Irish at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

Tries from Matt Scott, Harry Potter, Tommy Rebell, two from Nemani Nadolo, a penalty try and 10 points from Freddie Burns saw the league leaders beat the in-form Irish.

Even with Curtis Rona’s red card in the 28th minute, the opposing team kept the fight going throughout. Tries from Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Henry Arundell, Matthew Cornish and 12 points from Paddy Jackson were ultimately not enough as they left the East Midlands empty-handed.

Here’s how our journalists Bobby Bridge, Ethan Clamp and John Wiffen rated Leicester Tigers players out of ten…

15. Bryce Hegarty: The Tigers clearly learned their lessons from the kick-offs after Saracens slip-ups, with the Aussie taking most of it, allowing the Tigers to clear well. He was back to the solid form he had shown in Freddie Steward’s absence, kicking well into space and counter-attacking at the right times. 7

14. Harry Potter: One of his quietest games in a while, he struggled to get involved in the game and had been substituted by the time the game opened. An error on the kick led to an easy try for the London Irish early in the second half as he left support and was simply sent off. Ran a good line of support for his sixth score of the season. 6

13. Matt Scott: Carried hard throughout, often bringing huge pace to the ball and challenging defenders. Was also quick in defense in wide lanes. That led to his try, catching a Van Rensberg interception, fingertip. Was a surprise when substituted after just 48 minutes. 7.5

12. Dan Kelly: With Scott, he brilliantly managed to cut several outside breaks for the Irish. He continues to be the unsung hero of the Tigers backline, rarely contributing to the scoreboard but integral on offense and defense. There’s a reason the Tigers backline rarely misses him and seems much more consistent with him involved. Its distribution continues to improve. 8

11. Nemani Nadolo: It felt as if every significant moment of the match involved the Fijian giants. He was put under enormous pressure in the first half hour defensively and was caught several times. He then turned to styling. He first mowed down the defense on the 22nd to score his first try. Then came a brilliant away game where he beat three defenders and offloaded in sensational fashion to lead Potter’s try. He then scored the Tigers’ fifth goal when he completed a brilliant team try that went coast to coast, and back. A late yellow for a deliberate knockdown did not diminish his huge impact on the game in which he led the Tigers scorers with a staggering 118. 9*

10. Freddie Burns: Another great performance overall from the newly crowned Premiership Player of the Month. His kick out of hand once again left the opposition guessing. The highlight of those was some delicious grubber for Refell to score under the sticks. The only blemish on his performance was a defensive misplay that gave Irish a two-on-one break that really should have been executed. Converted five of six conversions to keep the Tigers top of the scoreboard. 8

9. Richard Wigglesworth: Led the Tigers peloton well, moving them into the right areas and catching them when they weren’t riding fast enough, something the Tigers peloton struggled with all afternoon. Well out of the inside of his 22 before being replaced by van Poorvliet in the 63rd minute. 7

1. James Whitcombe: Part of a field that struggled at times in the first half but came back strong early in the second. Made all seven of his tackles and did well when charged to carry on outing plays. 6

2. Julian Montoya: Repeatedly had a one-two with Liebenberg at the front of the lineout which he took advantage of with strong carries into Irish territory. Made the most yards with Tigers forwards. But got robbed of two key lineups in offensive positions and was penalized twice for not rolling fast enough. 7

3. Joe Heyes: A surprising name among the 23 when it was announced at midday on Friday was the 22-year-old stalwart. He was initially held back in the week by Eddie Jones, but a late exit saw him straight into the starting lineup and he returned straight to day duty, earning a few scrimmage penalties. 7

4. Harry Wells: His absence was strongly felt last weekend as Saracens took advantage of their maul, but Wells’ reintroduction this weekend saw the Tigers’ maul defense improve instantly. Wells defended all threats from the Irish maul who secured a limited buy. He carried heavily on contact and led the Tigers’ tackle stats with 18. 8

5. Eli Snyman: Another solid day in the engine room, doing the hard work allowing the Tigers to build the score, especially after the red card. Miscommunication with Scott led to an aborted kickoff, but that seems like something the whole team needs to work on, not just him. 6

6. Hanro Liebenberg©: You might not always notice Liebenberg when he’s playing, but you’ll always notice when he’s not playing because the Tigers miss him. He’s taken the majority of the Tigers lineups and a few of them have ended in good drives. Provided a sensational moment in defense of a maul on his own five-yard line, driving away with the ball before offloading to Montoya. 7

7.Tommy Reffell: Was his usual busy self in the tackle and ruck area. Earned his reward for another solid performance with a great touchdown after Burns’ snatch from the five-yard line. 7

8. Jasper Wiese: The number eight was everywhere. He led the Tigers in stats with 15 carries and 11 tackles, was late to mop up stray balls on several occasions and caused a key shock by putting himself in the opposition’s crosshairs. Was the man at the end of Rona’s bad tackle that led to the red card, remarkably after a hit like that he was ready to carry again seconds later. 8


16. Charlie Claire (Montoya, 73′): N/A

17. Francois Van Wyk (Whitcombe, 63rd): The game was won before its introduction. Supported Whitcombe skillfully during the Six Nations while first-choice Genge was out. 6

18. Nephi Leatigaga (Heyes, 61′): Won a break break. 6

19. Green Calum (Snyman, 54): Visibly got his hands on the ball, giving the impact Steve Borthwick demands from his substitutes. 7

20. Olly Robinson (Reffell, 61): Provided a huge tackle and another brilliant chop while putting his weight into the peloton’s scrum and maul efforts. 6

21. Jack van Poortvliet (Wigglesworth, 63′): Appeared as the Irish began to retreat, picked up the pace and allowed the Tigers to control most of the final quarter. 6

22. Matias Moroni (Scott, 48): Extra momentum when he arrived. Was influential in attack and defense, and transfer to Nadolo for his trial was superb. 7

23. Chris Ashton (Potter, 54′): Searched for the ball after coming on and earned his deserved reward with his first Tigers try. Now on 90 Premiership tries, two behind record holder and former Tiger Tom Varndell. 7