Horacio Agulla scored a brilliant try to wrap up a 32-13 bonus-point victory for Leicester Tigers over Worcester Warriors in front of a capacity Christmas crowd at Sixways.
There were 100 seconds left of the Aviva Premiership clash when Agulla chipped over Warriors fullback Chris Pennell and caught the ball in-goal to score Tigers' fourth try of the game.
Matt Smith on the opposite wing had created the score with a clever pass, and it was Smith who got the ball rolling for Tigers with a try after just three minutes to finish off a Toby Flood break. Flood was also on the mark in the first half, and there was a first try in 43 games for Louis Deacon after the interval.
Deacon captained a side, which included Scott Hamilton and Billy Twelvetrees in the backline, with Ed Slater and Ben Woods given starting places among the forwards. There was also a place on the bench for Micky Young.
Tigers raced out of the blocks and into an early lead. Flood found a gap in the Worcester defence 30 metres out, drew last man Pennell and had Smith on his shoulder for a run to the line after just three minutes.
Flood converted the try and then added a long-range penalty to give Tigers a 10-0 lead after seven minutes. The penalty took him past Twelvetrees as Tigers' leading scorer in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season.
Deacon won clean line-out ball just outside the Worcester 22 for his forwards to drive Tigers 10 metres upfield. But when Tigers added width, Croft knocked-on Flood's pass and Worcester cleared.
Tigers were enjoying plenty of possession in the opening quarter and they used it to create room for Agulla to stretch his legs down the right. The Argentina wing made 40 metres into the Worcester 22 where Leicester forwards secured quick ball for Youngs to put Flood through a hole and over next to the posts. Flood's extras put Tigers 17-0 ahead in the 22nd minute.
Worcester threatened an instant reply, and quick ball looked to have created space on the left but Pennell's pass was knocked-on by Marcel Garvey and the chance went away. Worcester registered their first points in the 31st minute when Tigers were ruled offside on their own 22 and Joe Carlisle slotted a simple penalty.
Tigers were close to a third try moments later. Smith began the attack on halfway, claiming a high ball before Hamilton and Agulla made inroads into the Warriors defence. Tigers secured quick ball and with it appeared to have an overlap on the left but George Chuter knocked-on under pressure with Croft on his outside.
Jake Abott swooped on a loose Tigers line-out and broke 40m from his own half before he was stopped by Smith. However, Worcester lost momentum and were forced back to halfway by the Tigers defence.
Warriors ended the half with 14 men. No.8 Chris Jones was yellow-carded for taking out Deacon in a lineout, and Flood landed the penalty with the last kick of the half to put Tigers 20-3 ahead at the break.
There were no changes at half-time, and the hosts had the first chance of points in the second half but Carlisle struck an upright with his penalty before Smith took the rebound behind his own line. Worcester secured possession from the resulting scrum and hammered away but met stout Tigers defence before Matt Mullan knocked on.
Carlisle did land the first points of the half with a penalty in the 46th minute to cut the Tigers lead to 20-6, before Jones returned to the field following his sin-binning.
Moments later Worcester crossed for a try that had the 12,024 crowd on their feet. Warriors forced Tigers back with a series of drives before Garvey found a gap down the Leicester left and dived over. Referee JP Doyle went to his television match official before awarding the score. Replacement Jonny Arr landed the conversion to leave Tigers 20-13 ahead.
The TMO was called on again in the 55th minute, this time to rule on Tom Croft's effort in the left corner. This one was ruled out, the Tigers back-rower losing control in reaching for the line under pressure.
But two minutes later Tigers did have their try. The forwards kept it tight, driving their way from the Worcester 22 up to the line where Deacon applied the finish. Flood's conversion was off target as Tigers led 25-13 going into the final quarter.
Manu Tuilagi's break then opened the Worcester defence for Waldrom and Twelvetrees to continue the charge, but Twelvetrees' final pass went forward. It was Tuilagi's last involvement and he was replaced by Niall Morris.
Worcester finished the game with 14 men after replacement prop Oliver Tomaszczyk received a yellow-card.
And Tigers made the man advantage pay, securing their bonus-point try 100 seconds from time with Agulla's sensational try. Smith played a big part with a disguised pass to free Agulla on the right, where he chipped over Pennell before catching the ball in-goal to score.
Flood's conversion set the seal on the victory as Tigers extended their run to five games unbeaten in the Premiership.
Worcester 13 Leicester 32
Pens: Carlisle 2
Yellow cards: Chris Jones, Oliver Tomaszczyk
Tries: Smith, Flood, Deacon, Agulla
Cons: Flood 3
Pens: Flood 2
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell (captain), 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Dale Rasmussen, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Joe Carlisle, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Chris Jones, 7 Jake Abbott, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 James Percival, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Bruce Douglas, 17 Aleki Lutui, 18 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 19 Ben Gulliver, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Andy Goode, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.
Leicester: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Matt Smith, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Ben Woods, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Ed Slater, 4 Louis Deacon (captain), 3 Dan Cole, 2 George Chuter, 1 Boris Stankovich.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Martin Castrogiovanni, 18 Julian White, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Julian Salvi, 21 Micky Young, 22 Jeremy Staunton, 23 Niall Morris.
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