European Champions Cup: Leicester 54-29 Castres

European Champions Cup Pool 4
Leicester (35) 54
Tries: May 2, Youngs, Veainu 3, Malouf Cons: G Ford 4 Pens: G Ford 3
Castres (3) 29
Try: Tulou, Smith 3 Con: Kockott 3 Pen: Kockott

Leicester got their Champions Cup campaign back on track with a dazzling seven-try win over Castres.

Wing Jonny May crossed for his eighth try in as many games to open the scoring before Ben Youngs sniped over and Telusa Veainu’s neat footwork twice outfoxed the French side’s defence.

May rounded off a breakaway score three minutes after the restart before Veainu and Nick Malouf strolled in.

Castres rallied with David Smith’s hat-trick helping them to a bonus point.

The outcome had long since been settled however, with Leicester dropping in tempo in the final 20 minutes.

The only slight dampener on Tigers’ evening was an apparent injury to centre Matt Toomua, who played only two games last season before a knee complaint brought his campaign to an end.

The Australian was forced off at half-time and, with Manu Tuilagi’s latest comeback still about six weeks away, coach and compatriot Matt O’Connor will hope it is not too serious.

Castres surrender early

Jonny May
According to his team-mates, May has compared himself to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy because of his scoring streak

Since they beat Harlequins in October 2001, Castres have played 16 matches away to Premiership opposition without repeating that victory.

With only two wins from their opening seven games in the Top 14, the visitors looked like they were saving themselves for domestic battles as Leicester cut them to ribbons in the first half.

The back-row pairing of Valentino Mapapalangi and Sione Kalamafoni – both summer signings – revelled in the space they were afforded and combined well for May’s opener.

Pool Four (after two games)
Points Pts difference
1. Leicester 6 +21
2. Munster 6 +7
3. Racing 92 5 -3
4. Castres 3 -25

Fellow Tongan Telusa Veainu’s step, swerve and ability to sniff a gap made him a persistent danger and a hat-trick was just reward for his performance.

That the hosts allowed Smith to do the same in a lax final quarter was less impressive and such lapses in concentration might prove more costly in the back-to-back meetings with Munster that come next in Pool Four.

Genge makes his England case

Ellis Genge
Genge made his first Test starts in England’s tour of Argentina this summer

England coach Eddie Jones was in stands, and while May’s on-going scoring streak and George Ford’s authoritative showing at fly-half will have strengthened their autumn international claims, it was Ellis Genge who provided most food for thought.

The 22-year-old loosehead prop was a rampaging presence in the loose, making yards and shrugging off tacklers with a piston-like hand-off.

With Saracens’ Mako Vunipola and Harlequins’ Joe Marler also occupying his position, he has some considerable competition to displace.

But his intoxicating mix of enthusiasm and aggression might well be unveiled with fixtures against Argentina, Australia and Samoa coming up in November.

‘Four incredibly tough games to go’ – coach quotes

Leicester head coach Matt O’Connor: “To take six points out of those first two games is important and puts you in a really good place from where you can probably control your own destiny.

“There are still four incredibly tough games to go, and we will have to be really good to get results across those games, but it is a good place to be at the moment.

“We were really good around the fringes. We spoke a lot during the week about going forward, and if we went forward, we knew we could get them on the edges.”

On possible knocks for Genge and Toomua: “Fingers crossed, they are not too serious.”

Leicester: Veainu; Malouf, Owen, Toomua, May; Ford, Youngs; Genge, Youngs (c), Cole, Barrow, Kitchener, Mapapalangi, Hamilton, Kalamafoni.

Replacements: McGuigan, Bateman, Cilliers, Tuohy, O’Connor, Harrison, Ford, Tait.

Castres: Batlle; Paris, Combezou, Taumopeau, Smith; Le Bourhis, Kockott; Lazar, Rallier, Tussac, Mafi, Capo Ortega (c), Caballero, Jelonch, Tulou.

Replacements: Jenneker, Stroe, Sione, Samson, Delaporte, Radosvljevic, Vialelle, Jaminet.

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