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England's troubles worsen as Leinster remains undefeated, with the addition of Chessum's head injury.
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England’s troubles worsen as Leinster remains undefeated, with the addition of Chessum’s head injury.

Ollie Chessum suffered an injury during Leicester’s loss to Leinster in the Champions Cup, causing concern for England as they prepare for a Six Nations training camp in Girona on Tuesday. The English second row left the game in the 43rd minute and did not pass his head injury assessment, meaning he will likely be limited in his participation in England’s training next week.

The news is unfortunate for Steve Borthwick, as he has already lost Leicester’s George Martin to a knee injury for an extended period of time. This leaves the team short in the second row, especially with Chessum’s condition being evaluated before England’s trip to Spain. Leicester could have used both players for the entire 80 minutes in their match against star-studded Leinster. However, thanks to the exceptional play of James Lowe, Leinster managed to secure a hard-fought win that showcased their potential as title contenders.

Lowe stood out as the top performer for Leinster, a team that had a strong lineup on paper. On the field, they demonstrated enough of their talent to prevent Leicester from earning a losing bonus point. The Tigers still have a chance to advance to the last 16, but their fate will depend on the result of Sale’s match against La Rochelle. Despite their hard work, the Tigers were lacking in creativity and Leinster only needed to step up their game at times to secure a third consecutive victory over Leicester.

Despite being an enthralling event, it was witnessed by a sold-out crowd at Welford Road. If this is a sign of things to come in the Six Nations, as it often is at this point in the competition, Ireland seems to be in good shape. All 15 of their starters have been called up for Andy Farrell’s squad for the championship. They scored four tries, with Joe McCarthy scoring the first and Jordan Larmour, Dan Sheehan, and Caelan Doris scoring the rest. This secured another bonus point and maintained their perfect record in the pool stage. They finish with 19 points and are guaranteed a home match in the last-16, which is no small feat considering the tough competition in their pool.

Leicester managed to unsettle their renowned rivals in the initial phases of the game. The comeback of Hanro Liebenberg resulted in the first try, with a well-executed pass from Dan Kelly, as he sprinted down the left and Handrè Pollard successfully converted, increasing their lead to 10-0. However, that was the peak for the Tigers as they were unable to score any further points. Leicester’s head coach Dan McKellar expressed his frustration for the team, stating that he emphasized the importance of treating the game like a Test match. He acknowledged that they missed crucial opportunities while their opponents capitalized on theirs.

Harry Byrne’s successful penalty kick in front of the posts gave Leinster their first points, but it was Lowe’s superb performance that brought the previous year’s runners-up back into the game. With his powerful left foot and frequent appearances in the midfield, the winger was a driving force for the visiting team.

He used his impressive skill to break through the left side and pass to Garry Ringrose, starting the play that led to Larmour scoring Leinster’s second try. This came after McCarthy scored their first try.

Byrne successfully made the first attempt, but was unable to do so on the second try. Leicester prevented Doris from scoring just before halftime, keeping the Tigers within five points of the lead. However, they had to play without wing Harry Simmons due to a potentially severe facial injury.

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After three minutes in the second half, scrum-half Tom Whiteley was also penalized and sent to the sin-bin for deliberately knocking the ball on. This was a result of another play initiated by Lowe. Leinster’s third try was then scored by Dan Sheehan from a penalty kick.

The substitutions of Kyle Hatherell and Ben Youngs had an impact, and the Tigers were suddenly able to push into the Leinster 22.

The likelihood of them scoring increased when Jack Conan was penalized and removed from the game, but Doris’ crucial steal on his own goal line prevented Leicester from scoring.

The Tigers continued to push and exert effort, but a shaky lineout and a lack of strong attack resulted in them falling short as Doris had the last say with a close-range score.

Source: theguardian.com