Champions up and running
Tigers kicked-off their campaign with victory over Bristol
By Phil Jackson. Last Updated: 18/09/07 4:32pm
Varndell: Breaking free down the flank
Tom Varndell's second-half try secured Leicester a 26-13 win away at Bristol.
The Tigers scored 16 unanswered points after the interval to ensure a perfect start to the defence of their Guinness Premiership title.
Despite missing 12 players away on World Cup duty, Leicester managed a repeat of their championship semi-final success when the sides last met in May.
Bristol commanded the early possession and territory, and fly-half David Hill made up for his earlier miss with a penalty kick on 11 minutes.
But that only served to spring the Tigers into life, as centre Sam Vesty and winger Ayoola Erinle combined for the game's first try.
Paul Burke added the conversion from in front of the sticks and Leicester had a 7-3 lead.
Full-back Josh Taumalolo broke down the right to lift Bristol hopes though, and winger Lee Robinson showed great strength to finish off the move after the ball had been moved into the middle.
Hill added the extras, but Burke quickly levelled the scores at 10-10 with a penalty from the right touchline.
Another Hill penalty on the stroke of half-time took Bristol into the interval 13-10 up.
Johnny Murphy took over the kicking duties from injured full-back Burke after the break and coolly slotted over his first points for the Tigers from a 45-metre penalty.
Vesty then kicked a drop goal from 35 metres out, as Leicester took the lead, and Burke ended his game with a pass to free Varndell down the left touchline.
The winger raced down the flank to take the game away from Bristol with Murphy kicking the conversion.
Murphy kicked a further penalty from out wide to stretch Leicester's lead, and seal victory for the champions.
Handling errors cost Bristol dear in the final minutes, and they will be keen to get England prospect Dan Ward-Smith back to full fitness as soon as possible.