Rampant Tigers seal top spot
Leicester clinched top spot in the Guinness Premiership table with an 11-try rout of relegated Bristol at the Walkers Stadium.
Last Updated: 25/04/09 5:55pm
Leicester Tigers clinched top spot in the Guinness Premiership table with an 11-try thrashing of already-relegated Bristol on the final day of the regular season.
The Tigers go forward to play fourth-placed Bath at home in the Guinness Premiership play-off semi-final on May 9.
Leicester, who were already guaranteed a home tie, needed only a point to secure first place and collected it with their fourth try, scored by Jordan Crane, after just 31 minutes.
With Tom Croft eager to prove a point after his surprise omission from the British and Irish Lions squad and England flanker Lewis Moody back in action after two months out with a broken ankle, it proved to be an embarrassing mis-match at the Walkers Stadium.
Full-back Geordan Murphy scored two tries as Leicester piled up the biggest Premiership win of the season, a disappointing farewell for Bristol's former England hooker Mark Regan, who came off the bench to play his final game for his home club.
Regan, who made his debut in 1991, has now retired from competitive rugby.
Scrum-half Shaun Perry, the subject of speculation linking him with a move to Brive, and Wasps-bound David Lemi and Dan Ward-Smith were also playing their last games for Bristol but had little chance to make their mark in a game dominated by the hosts.
Any hopes Bristol had of producing an upset quickly disappeared as Sam Vesty and prop Julian White rounded off sustained attacks for tries in the first 10 minutes, the second converted by Julian Dupuy.
Bristol temporarily relieved the pressure when Luke Arscott kicked a 16th-minute penalty but Leicester never surrendered their control.
Vesty and Toby Flood then combined superbly to send Dan Hipkiss over under the posts, Crane crossed from close range for the bonus-point try and Geordan Murphy strolled through some weak tackling.
Three more Dupuy conversions gave Leicester a 33-3 lead at the break and things went from bad to worse for Bristol in the second half.
Their former captain Matt Salter was sin-binned for obstruction within four minutes of coming on as a replacement and Bristol were still regrouping when Flood cut through for a try that Murphy converted.
Murphy also converted his own try before being replaced and Vesty took over the kicking duties when he converted a brilliant try from Tom Varndell which Johne Murphy created.
Ben Woods touched down within seconds of coming on as a replacement after Bristol failed to secure their own line-out and Johne Murphy then skipped through to take Leicester past the 60 points Harlequins scored against Worcester earlier this month.
Centre Ayoola Erinle completed the rout when he went over with the last play of the match and Vesty kicked his fourth conversion.