The former Saracens scrum-half goes over for a try

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Leicester Tigers 38 Gloucester 15

Steve Borthwick celebrated a impressive start to the new Premiership campaign as the sole Tigers team commander as veteran scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth made an instant impact at Welford Road.

Borthwick praised his players for overcoming their badly-disrupted preparation to the game, which had seen positive Covid-19 tests to players forcing the training ground to close and some key men missing out on the bonus point win over Gloucester.

However, the recent departure of long-time Tigers favourite Geordan Murphy as director of rugby, leaving Borthwick to man the helm on his own, and the hangover from last season’s miserable 11th finish, was quickly forgotten as they put the Cherry and Whites to the sword.

Wigglesworth, 37, grabbed one of the four tries on his debut after switching from Saracens, leaving Borthwick delighted.

“Richard played very well. It’s great to have him at the club with all his experience and know how. But the whole team were excellent today. The guys didn’t have the best preparation but they showed real strength of character and determination out there," he said.

“The players couldn’t train much but organised themselves superbly and performed outstandingly well. But I want to emphasise that this is just a step forward. A nice step but that’s all. We have to use it to build up a good run and some momentum at the start of the campaign.”

Wing Kobus Van Wyk raced over for the opening Tigers try early on as the hosts burst out of the blocks and caught Gloucester cold.

Captain and hooker Tom Youngs soon followed up with a second from a driving maul and you sensed it would be a tough day for the visitors.

Billy Twelvetrees’ penalty was short respite for Gloucester as scrum-half Wigglesworth showed he still retains some pace to latch onto wing Harry Potter’s kick through for the third Tigers try.

 Australian hooker James Hanson, returning to action from a 20-month injury absence, replied for Gloucester with a scrambled try in the left hand corner close to half-time but the West Country men had an uphill battle ahead to turn things around.

Gloucester closed the gap to seven points when replacement Franny Clarke, on for concussion victim Lewis Ludlow, off-loaded to Joe Simpson and the scrum-half scurried over the line for a try converted by Twelvetrees.

But the rest of the game revolved around Tigers attack, and Gloucester’s defence crumbled. Zach Henry kicked a penalty while Gloucester lost Clarke to the sin bin for pulling down a ruck. Clarke was just returning to the field when two more players walked passed him having received yellow cards.

Leicester forward Callum Green was shown one by referee Jack Makepeace for holding onto Hanson at a ruck while the Gloucester hooker followed him for a retaliatory stamp on the body.

Replacement hooker Charlie Clares charged over for the converted bonus point try which put the game beyond the visitors while Joaquin Diaz Bonilla added a late penalty to seal a comfortable day at the office for Tigers.

Disappointed Gloucester head coach George Skivington conceded: “We were rusty and were our own worst enemy. It was a difficult day but we made life harder by giving away crucial penalties every time we gained some momentum and territory.”