Martin Crowson's five key points: Leicester Tigers' Crane would be first out of trenches
Martin Crowson looks back at five key points from the weekend's rugby action.
1 Tigers No.8 Jordan Crane has picked up too much unnecessary flak since battling back from a year out of the game.
It was always going to take him time to adjust to playing again after such a serious injury. But Crane is a warrior, loves the club and would be at the front of the queue when they sent the soldiers out of the trenches if the guys behind him had a Tigers badge on their chests.
Saturday was his best performance since he started playing again. He was combative, aggressive and worked his socks off with plenty of reward. Long may it continue.
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2 It is the season to be jolly, apparently. But London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith was not in the festive spirit in the post-game press conference on Saturday night.
He blamed the referee and the touch judge for not seeing a "hands in the ruck" offence which led to Tigers' second penalty try. Then he blamed all referees for siding with Leicester at the scrum and then said Tom Youngs should have been red-carded for a shoulder barge. Merry Christmas to you too Brian.
3 The half-back pairing of Ben Youngs and Toby Flood is there to be shot at as they are the country's No.1 players in their respective positions. But, over the past two weeks, their value to Leicester has been blatantly obvious.
Youngs' vision near his own line to start the move which ended with the opening try in Treviso was superb and Flood pulled the strings with assured control at London Irish on Saturday having not played for his club for eight weeks.
4 Upcoming referee Luke Pearce may have missed a few things at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday but top marks for penalising and yellow-carding Ben Youngs for not retreating 10 metres from a tap penalty before making a tackle.
This has been a bugbear of mine all season as players get away with early tackles left, right and centre, thus negating the advantage and ability to surprise. Other refs, please take note.
5 If anyone needed reminding that Saracens and Harlequins are the biggest threats to Leicester this season, their results this weekend proved that beyond doubt.
Saracens' defence was an episode in dogged resistance against Bath at The Rec and their 22-0 win was tremendous. Meanwhile, Quins showed once again that they can go to difficult places and win with a hard-fought victory at a fired-up Northampton.