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Tigers end 2016 with defeat at Sandy Park

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Leicester Tigers ended 2016 with a 31-10 defeat to Exeter Chiefs in their first game played on Christmas Eve in 50 years.

Tigers were unable to take any match points home with them on the long journey back to the East Midlands from Sandy Park, despite scoring two second-half tries through Brendon O'Connor and Jono Kitto.
The game was effectively settled in the first half as Tigers continually got on the wrong side of referee Tom Foley.
Jack Yeandle finished a lineout drives after Tigers had conceded field position with a penalty before referee Foley ruled that Waldrom had touched down at the base of the post through a pile of Leicester bodies.

And just before half-time Exeter were awarded a penalty try as Graham Kitchener was ruled offside as he retreated at a ruck. Tigers battled manfully throughout the second period, scoring neat tries through Thacker and Kitto, but Ollie Devoto scored Exeter’s fourth try to seal the bonus-point victory and move above Tigers into the Aviva Premiership top four.
Mike Williams, who was a second-half replacement in the win over Munster, returned to the starting line-up after recovering from an arm injury. George McGuigan started at hooker, with Pat Cilliers continuing at tighthead after starting his first game for the club in the Champions Cup last weekend.
Freddie Burns returned to the backline after being sidelined last week and started at full-back, with Sam Harrison making his 50th starting appearance for the club at scrum-half. Dan Cole also returned to the Tigers matchday squad for the first time since starting all of England's autumn series victories.
Tigers were pinged for a deliberate knock-on early in the game which allowed Gareth Steenson to find touch 5m out. Jonny Hill set up the drive and Yeandle applied the finish. Steenson added the extras to give Exeter a 7-0 lead after five minutes.
Tigers settled into the game with Burns sending a couple of probing kicks in behind the Exeter defence for first Adam Thompstone and then Peter Betham to chase.
It was an excellent contest around the tackle area, but when Tigers infringed on halfway Steenson kicked Exeter back into the Leicester 22. Tigers infringed at the resulting maul and Steenson found another touch 5m out.
Again Exeter had Tigers under pressure at the lineout but this time the visitors pulled down the maul. Exeter went to the corner again, and again Tigers infringed. This time referee Foley spoke to captain Ed Slater before play resumed with another lineout.
Tigers forced Exeter to play the ball and when they shifted possession infield Waldrom maintained his momentum through a tackle and claimed the try through a pile of bodies. Referee Foley consulted his TMO before awarding the score, despite no clear evidence Waldrom had scored. Steenson converted.
Tigers had a 5m lineout of their own as they looked for an immediate response. However, play was stopped after Mike Williams took a bang in a heavy collision. Williams was replaced by Graham Kitchener with Fitzgerald moving into the back row.
The game restarted with a scrum right in front of the posts but Tigers were pinged for collapsing the set-piece.
It was a story of the half, as Tigers continued to fall foul of the referee. First McGuigan, battling for possession inside his 22, was ruled to have been off his feet before Kitchener was yellow carded for being offside and getting in the way of Will Chudley’s pass at a ruck a metre from the Leicester line.
Referee Foley awarded the penalty try and Steenson’s extras put Exeter 21-0 ahead seven minutes before half-time.
Tigers responded with some neat interplay that found Betham on the right. He kicked ahead but Jack Nowell had swung round to claim the mark and find touch on the Exeter 10m line.
Tigers ended the half camped in the Exeter 22. They hammered away at the Chiefs defence and eventually Fitzgerald latched onto Hamilton’s offload but referee Foley pulled play back for a forward pass to signal half-time.
Instead, it was Exeter who scored next. Again Tigers were pinged at the breakdown and this time Steenson went for the posts to move the Chiefs 24-0 ahead. Kitchener returned from his sin bin for the restart.
The Leicester lock was the target at a 5m lineout. They had the Exeter pack under pressure but Exeter were allowed to sack the drive just short and then won the put-in.
Burns launched a counterattack from deep in Leicester territory. Tuilagi rounded Olly Woodburn and had Harrison in support, who was scragged 10m out before Tuilagi was stopped just short.
Tigers had a penalty advantage and went again with a lineout drive. Eventually Slater burst through next to the posts but he spilled the ball under pressure from Nowell as he tried to touch down.
It was all Tigers at this stage, and finally the pressure told. The source was a lineout drive. Again it was stopped just short, again legally according to referee Foley, but O'Connor on as a replacement, burrowed over at the next phase. Williams had his conversion charged down as Exeter led 24-5 with 23 minutes left.
Tigers continued to enjoy plenty of possession but were made to work hard for their territory. Williams’s grubber broke the pattern of play and gave Betham half a gap on the right but the winger was unable to gather the bouncing ball.
However, they were caught out at the other end when James Short and Woodburn punched a hole in the defence and quick ball allowed Devoto to break the last tackle to score Exeter’s bonus-point fourth try.

Tigers responded immediately with a neat second try. Roberts made a smart break inside Woodburn and replacement scrum-half Kitto was on his inside for a free run to the line. Williams’s conversion hit a post as Tigers trailed 31-10 with 11 minutes remaining.

Tigers continued to battle until the final whistle. First Thacker’s tackle on Luke Cowan-Dickie was rewarded with a turnover before Thompstone’s break down the left ended with a penalty that Williams put to within 10m of the Exeter line.

Tigers again got the drive moving but Exeter were again allowed to come in at the side and bring down the maul to end Leicester’s final attacking opportunity of the game.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

EXE 21-0 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

EXE 31-10 LEI




Tom Foley

Exeter Chiefs
Exeter Chiefs

Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers

Match Stats

Exeter Chiefs
Leicester Tigers
Penalties Conceded
Yellow Cards
Red Cards
Tackles Won
169/194 87%
108/129 84%
Scrums Won
6/7 14%
2/3 33%
Lineouts Won
17/17 100%
15/15 100%

Player Stats

Exeter Chiefs
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
15Freddie Burns
14Adam Thompstone
13Jack Roberts
12Manu Tuilagi
11Peter Betham
10Owen Williams
9Sam Harrison
1Ellis Genge
2George McGuigan
4Ed Slater
5Michael Fitzgerald
6Mike Williams
7Brendon O'Connor1T
16Harry Thacker
17Logovi'i Mulipola
18Dan Cole
19Graham Kitchener
20Will Evans
22George Worth
23Tom Brady

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

Jack Nowell
Ollie Devoto
Henry Slade
Olly Woodburn
Will Chudley
Ben Moon
Jack Yeandle
Tomas Francis
Mitch Lees
Jonny Hill
Don Armand
Thomas Waldrom


Luke Cowan-Dickie
Carl Rimmer
Greg Holmes
Kai Horstmann
Jack Maunder
Sam Hill
posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
Exeter Chiefs
Exeter ChiefsEXE221534667452215865515384
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI22140856744512258486466
Form Guide
Last Match
Lost to Bath Rugby 19-36
Past Meeting
Won 24-20
Last Match
Past Meeting
Last Match
Beat Edinburgh Rugby 16-6
Past Meeting
Lost 20-24

Matchday Live

Exeter Chiefs31
Exeter Chiefs
Leicester Tigers10
Leicester Tigers
Full Time