London Irish 16-28 Leicester Tigers: Bell kicks Tigers to opening weekend win
Leicester makes winning start to the Aviva Premiership away to London Irish
Tommy Bell enjoys 23-point haul including seven penalties at Madejski Stadium
Jebb Sinclair touches down for Irish with Chris Noakes kicking three penalties to complete the hosts scoring
Peter Betham scores Tigers only try as they beat Irish 28-16
Stand-in fly-half Tommy Bell took advantage of his opportunity in the starting XV by kicking 23 points as Leicester Tigers began their Premiership campaign with an away victory against London Irish,
Leicester, who were beaten in last season’s Premiership play-off semi-finals by Bath, were without England trio Tom Youngs, Ben Youngs, and Dan Cole as they were given the weekend off.
Bell was in for regular number 10 Freddie Burns, who has broken his jaw, and ensured a comfortable Tigers win with a composed kicking display despite there being little between the two teams.
The 22-year old got his total going after just 90 seconds with a sweetly struck penalty and Tigers from then until the end would never relinquish their lead.
After 10 minutes, Peter Betham, who signed in the summer from Super Rugby side Waratahs, easily intercepted a telegraphed pass from Chris Noakes to race 50 metres to score on debut, with Bell converting, 0-13.
Noakes then got Irish on the scoreboard via the tee. However, the hosts suffered another setback soon after when wing Topsy Ojo was sin-binned for a dangerous challenge on Laurence Pearce.
Bell added another penalty for Tigers before despite being a man down Jebb Sinclair touched down for the hosts after 22 minutes, with Noakes converting, 13-16.
Bell then kicked his third penalty before Ojo returned from the bin to give Leicester a six-point lead, and that is how things remained at the break.
Three further penalties after the break from Bell secured the win for the visitors while Noakes added another three points for the Exiles from the tee.
Next up London Irish have a difficult trip to Sandy Park to face Exter Chiefs on Saturday while Leicester Tiger’s will be put entirely to the test when they take on Harlequins at Welford Road a week today.
Man of the Match
Leicester Tigers: Tommy Bell
The number 10’s excellent kicking performance ensured Tigers headed back to Leicester with a win under their belt on the opening weekend. He kicked eight out of nine on a day where he was almost impeccable from the tee.