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Report | Tigers secure bragging rights in physical derby

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Physicality in the carry and an incredible second half defensive performance, with no points conceded, made all the difference for a Leicester Tigers team who secured their second-ever Premiership victory and bragging rights for the first time over rivals Loughborough Lightning.

In an apt twist of fate, it’s an absolutely lightning quick start to the match, from both teams.

Tigers get off to a dream start, Tahlia Brody receiving kick off, carrying hard and earning a penalty for the hosts not rolling away. But that dream quickly becomes a nightmare as the line-out is taken but the presentation loses the ball, Lightning suddenly on the attack and eventually driving over the line through hooker Kathryn Treder.

Loughborough seek to press the advantage, setting wide and looking to use the hands. From a couple of phases, Claire Gallagher reads the play and steams in to intercept on Tigers 22, Lightning’s commitment to width meaning there’s no one to cover the backfield and allowing the Canadian international to go all the way to the line.

A chaotic start sees both sides struggle to gain consistency. Tigers suddenly have momentum and a big turnover at the ruck on halfway allows the side to build up to the hosts 22. The play breaks down, however and Lightning come back rapidly. Tigers are defending strongly, a double tackle by Roisin McBrien and Leah Bartlett backed up by a booming shot from Lisa Cockburn as Lightning come in waves.

Successive penalties given away means the hosts can stay on the front foot and they score their second try of the match in a mirror of the first. Kick to the corner, rolling maul gets set and Treder drives over for her second.

In conversation with Tigers lead analyst Kingsley Morgans prior to the match, he outlined territory as the primary focus of Lightning’s gameplan. The use of the long boot, the kick chase and the subsequent defensive pressure are the core tenants of the Loughborough experience and an area Tigers had to be prepared to defend. The opening minutes see this put into play almost immediately and is a tactic Lightning continually look to implement throughout.

However, with the chance to have more of the ball comes the chance to attack more and Tigers look to make the most of it. The visitors continue to run it back from these situations, the likes of Tahlia Brody, Julia Omokhuale and Catha Jacobs having plenty of room to get up to top speed and smash over the gainline.

With possession continuing to swing to & fro between the sides, this is a first half defined by moments; lost line-outs, big turnovers and massive tackles from both sides, Sadia Kabeya and Omokhuale ensuring both sides receive equal punishment in the physicality department.

Once again, however, it’s the set piece that’s the difference for the hosts. Tigers are penalised in three successive instances and, with the ball duly kicked to touch, Lightning get the rolling maul firing to put hooker Treder over for her hat-trick.

With just a few minutes left till half time, Tigers search for a score to get them back within touchinf distance. A moment of magic from Amy Relf, a spinning pass from the base sends McBrien straight through a hole, gets the side on the front foot after Brody and Bartlett smashed it up. Into Lightning’s half, Leicester play successive phases of carries then go wide, staying patient before swift hands sends Amelia Tutt over the line right before the half time whistle blows.  

Meg Jones hits a huge touchline conversion and it’s game on.

Half time score: Loughborough Lightning 17 – 12 Leicester Tigers

The second half starts akin to the first as both sides trade possession and Lightning attempt to pin Tigers back in their own 22 through deep kicks.

Results to defend this are mixed, Francesca McGhie does really well to run it up and smash through contact but the return boots play right into the hosts hands who look to exploit the space, strong defending allowing Leicester a respite after several minutes of pressure, winning a penalty in their own 22.

Tigers then enjoy their best period of possession, a spell characterised by offloads and subsequent breaks, the side edging up the field and into Lightning’s half. The pick of these come from the two wings, McGhie and Tutt, both using their pace to cause problems before popping through to onrushing support, Feury and Omokhuale the beneficiaries.

But penalties continue to dog the side, infringements for not rolling away costing the side vital territory. It looks like Lightning will strike again from a line out but when the ball comes out the back, Meg Jones puts in an enormous shot on fellow Red Rose Helen Nelson driving her back and allowing the side a vital turnover and reprieve five metres out.

Now Tigers wrestle momentum back, swift hands and a continuation of the aforementioned offloads allowing the side to work their way into the oppositions half before the territory battle commences again. Catha Jacobs concludes a round of kick tennis after chasing down a Natasha Jones grubber through and levelling centre Bulou Mataitoga to force a knock on the 22.

Tigers have made mass substitutions, the likes of Churchy Knight, Ofure Ugiagbe and Charlotte Fray adding real drive around the park and at set piece.

The hosts defence holds steady as Tigers bang on the door for the next 10 minutes, spreading the play to its full width but unable to make that significant break through. Lightning are the team with the most tackles in this years Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby season and you can see why, the side defending with massive impetus.

Then a bolt from the blue as out of nowhere Tigers take the lead. With Tutt off and Feury to the wing, Gallagher has dropped to fullback and when she receives a kick she finds the space in behind, hitting a chip and chase, grubbering the ball over the line and touching down, leaping up in delight as she scores her second of the game.

The stadium waits with baited breath as with the scores tied, Meg Jones smashes her kick from the right hand side to allow the visitors to edge ahead.

With eight minutes to go, the game is on a knife-edge; Tigers defend well and win the ball back but then lose it a couple of minutes later, Loughborough steaming through on an inside line. The crowd is on their feet with an expectation they’ll go all the way but Tigers fly back to cover and win a massive turnover at the ruck to win back possession on their own 22.

The side win the line out and go about edging forward conservatively keeping the ball tight, the roars from the Tigers bench coming when Brody makes a break to eat up 10 metres before Ugiagbe hits a storming line to drive right through her opposite number.

This effort culminates in a penalty right in front of the posts on the home side’s 22. Meg Jones steps up and slots it between the sticks, allowing Tigers that bit of breathing room and furthering the lead.

More than anything, it eats up precious seconds on the clock. With just a minute remaining, Tigers just keep the ball tight and keep it ticking down until the ref signals for the game and a jubilant Leicester side celebrate a huge derby day victory.

Full time score: Loughborough Lightning 17 – 22 Leicester Tigers

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LOU 17-12 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LOU 17-22 LEI


Not available


Not available

Loughborough Lightning
Loughborough Lightning

Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
Loughborough Lightning
Leicester Tigers



Tigers claim derby day bragging rights with an exceptional second half performance that saw no points conceded.

Full time score: Loughborough Lightning 17 - 22 Leicester Tigers


Tigers press home their advantage, earning their way to the 22 through sheer drive and big carries, a penalty allowing Jones to enhance the Leicester lead from in front of the posts.


A second for the Canadian and Tigers take the lead!

Dropped to fullback, Gallagher chips and chases from deep, collecting her own kick and touching down in delight.

Meg Jones takes her time but smashes the conversion straight through the posts to edge the visitors in front.



Both sides are trading possession in an entertaining, physical second half featuring massive shots from the likes of Meg Jones, Catha Jacobs and Tahlia Brody.


Tigers look to fight from behind in the second half of the Leicestershire derby.


Lightning hold a narrow lead going into the second 40 minutes, three maul tries for the hosts making all the difference as Tigers hit back late through Amelia Tutt.

Half time score: Loughborough Lightning 17 - 12 Leicester Tigers


Vital score on the stroke of half time! Tigers play the phases, physical carries getting the side within five metres where slick hands sees the wing dive over.

Touchline conversion from Meg Jones!


Successive penalties allow Lightning to build to the line and hooker Treder gets her hat trick as the hosts maul over once again.


Both sides are struggling for consistency in the early going and Lightning capitalise on a Tigers error to kick to touch and maul over, Kathryn Treder with her second score.


Back in the game!
Lightning build to Tigers 22 but Gallagher reads it perfectly, intercepting and having the gas to make it all the way to the line, handing off Rowland who was sprinting back to cover.


Nightmare start for Tigers as they cede the ball at an early line out and Lightning break to the line; a penalty is kicked to touch and the hosts maul it over, Kathryn Treder touching down.
Conversion successful from Helena Rowland.


We are underway in our Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby Round 11 match away to Loughborough Lightning!



25 Minutes to Kick Off!

There's just 25 minutes to kick off at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens!

Strap yourself in for an electric derby day as Tigers battle Loughborough Lightning!

You can follow the action LIVE right here on Matchday Live or with updates on X (formerly Twitter).

Preview | Tigers hunt for bragging rights on derby day

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Leicester Tigers are preparing for the second round of their first ever derby fixtures against Loughborough Lightning this Saturday, February 10.

The Leicestershire derby, will see the two sides do battle once again, this time with Tigers travelling to Northampton for a clash at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens.

The first match between the two, at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in early December, resulted in a 24-12 win for Lightning, a tough result marred by torrential weather and a poor performance from the home side.

A clinical nature was the key for Lightning last time, with Tigers enjoying more metres made (650 to 504), line breaks (5 to 4) and fewer missed tackles (11 to 20) but still conceding four tries to just two scored, with an early try in the opening minute setting the stage for the visitors to claim bragging rights.

Saturday's hosts were also buoyed by a sensational performance from Bo Westcombe-Evans; the wing scored twice in the first-ever derby day fixture and has been in electric form for Lightning, enjoying the highest gainline success (75%) and carry dominance (77%) rates of any player to have made 50+ carries in Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby this season. She also ranks top amongs her team for line breaks per 80 minutes (1.3) and metres carried per 80 minutes (106.6)

Lightning come into the match off the back of two strong wins in their last two games and will look to continue that winning run tomorrow.

Tigers, meanwhile, come into the contest in their best form of the season, a first-ever Allianz Premiership Women's Rugby win over Sale Sharks backed up by a tremdous effort against Gloucester-Hartpury a week later, two bonus points claimed in a last minute defeat to the currently undefeated champions.

This match is set to be yet another physical encounter, with Lightning (195.1) and Tigers (187.6) first and third for average tackles made per game, respectively. In fact, both sides have three players each in the top 10 for overall tackles made; Becky Noon, the overall leader, Morgan Richardson and Keia Mae Sagapolu Sanele for Leicester and Rachel Malcolm, Sadia Kabeya and Katie Trevarthen for Loughborough.

Dominant tackles are also the order of the day for both sides (Tigers rank second and Lightning fourth for dominant tackles per 80), Sagapolu Sanele and Kabeya topping the tree for each team.

Tomorrow's match is a massive opportunity for two sides not only looking to progress in the league table but to solidify bragging rights for the remainder of the 2023/24 season. Allianz Premiership Women's Rugby matches don't come much bigger than this and they certainly won't be many more fiercely contested. Get ready for a belter.

posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
Loughborough Lightning
Loughborough LightningLOU11506261304-4343496127
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI11209197397-2003164418
Form Guide
Last Match
Beat Sale Sharks Women 38-15
Past Meeting
Lost 17-22
Last Match
Past Meeting
Last Match
Lost to Ealing Trailfinders Women 14-29
Past Meeting
Won 22-17

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Loughborough Lightning17
Loughborough Lightning
Leicester Tigers22
Leicester Tigers
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