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Tigers end the year in defeat at Exeter

Leicester Tigers were beaten 30-6 by league leaders Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Sunday in Round 12 of the Aviva Premiership season.

Starting the game in ninth place in the table and in their first New Year's Eve fixture since 1988 – when they won at Nuneaton – Tigers trailed 6-3 at half-time after penalties from Henry Slade and Gareth Steenson against one from George Ford.

Almost the entire first half was played within 30 metres of the Tigers tryline, but the defence stood up to everything thrown at them with Ford levelling the scores on the only entry to the Chiefs 22 before Steenson chipped over his penalty on the stroke of half-time.

The visitors started the second half brightly too, with Ford again levelling the scores before the defending champions began to pull away.

Scores from Dom Armand, Henry Slade and Jonny Hill put the hostr in command before Jack Yeandle added their bonus-point score with time already up.

Chasing a fourth away win in the Aviva Premiership season following victories at Harlequins, London Irish and Newcastle, but a first since Round 7, Tigers gave a first start to hooker Tafatu Polota-Nau, and was a late change when Jonny May was switched to full-back in place of Mathew Tait, with Nick Malouf coming in on the wing.

After a brief heavy shower, the game kicked off under blue skies on a chilly afternoon in Devon, with Chiefs skipper Steenson getting the action under way. Luke Hamilton knocked on from a scuffed kick and the scrum brought a first penalty which Chiefs threateningly chipped into the corner.

But Tigers withstood the first drive and then won turnover ball before referee Craig Maxweell-Keys awarded a penalty and Ford vkicked play up towards halfway.

Malouf was then penalised as he tried to hack the ball at a ruck and Exeter went back to the left-hand corner but kicked the ball out on the opposite wing as play opened up.

Chiefs wing Olly Woodburn sniffed out a half-chance with a break on the Tigers 22 before Dan Cole cut him down with a superb tackle, but Tigers were finding it hard to get out of their own territory as the opening 15 minutes were played entirely in their half.

A penalty on the right side of the Chiefs attack once again allowed the hosts to kick into the corner, but replacement hooker Jack Yeandle over-threw at the lineout and George Ford cleared.

A chip over the Chiefs defence gave Matt Toomua a chance to carry into the Chiefs half, but when  Tigers kicked ball away, Jack Nowell returned it with interest and gained reward with a breakthrough penalty when May was whistled in possession on halfway. Slade landed the kick to finally break the deadlock on 25 minutes.

Tigers gained some decent reward at scrum-time, with Dan Cole’s battle with Alex Hepburn producing a couple of penalties, and when Thomas Waldrom was then penalised at a breakdown on halfway, Ford was able to put Tigers into the Chiefs 22 for the first time on 33 minutes.

Chiefs knocked-on as they read the lineout throw but from the scrum another big push from Tigers brought a penalty and Ford pointed to the posts. His kick from the right side of the 22 made it 3-3.

A dart from Nowell threatened the Tigers defence but his pass was dropped by Don Armand in support and play restarted with a scrum. This time, though, the visitors’ pack was judged at fault by referee Maxwell-Keys and Steenson kicked to make it 6-3 with the half-time whistle just seconds away.

Tigers had an immediate chance to respond at the start of the second period, with May making a break in midfield and Chiefs penalised in the tackle. Ford made no mistake with the kick to level the scores for a second time.

The visitors then enjoyed lengthy possession just 10 metres shy of the Exeter tryline, carrying through the forwards as they tried to make a breakthrough. But Chiefs covered in defence and moments later grabbed the opening try of the game after a set of phases near the Tigers line.

Back-rower Armand eventually pushed his way over next to the posts and Steenson added the conversion for a 13-6 lead on 55 minutes.

A mazy run from May gave Tigers a good platform in attack, with Cole prominent in his carrying again and Tuilagi getting his hands on the ball to test the defence, before the referee penalised the visitors just two metres out from the tryline.

At the other end, Chiefs benefited from a lucky break for their second try in the 64th minute, with Slade running free after May had attempted to hook loose ball back near halfway. Steenson’s conversion made it 20-6.

The home team thought they’d had another lucky break just minutes later when Nic White hacked loose ball up towards the line and dotted down, only for the referee to confirm with assistance from the TMO that Sam Simmonds had knocked on in the tackle on halfway.

The home crowd did not have long to wait, though, as lock Jonny Hill finished in the left-hand corner after Tigers had been pinned back near the line as the lead stretched out to 25-6.

The scoreline was tough on Tigers who had stuck to the task manfully throughout but couldn’t find a decisive break in attack to go with their hard work in defence, and it got worse in the last minute of the game when Chiefs set up a driving maul from a close-range lineout and replacement hooker Yeandle got the touchdown for a bonus-point score.  

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

EXE 6-3 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

EXE 30-6 LEI

Attendance

12,807

Referee

Craig Maxwell-keys

Match Stats

Exeter Chiefs
Leicester Tigers
Possession
52%
48%
Territory
52%
48%
Penalties Conceded
6
10
Yellow Cards
0
0
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
143/159 90%
149/182 82%
Scrums Won
4/4 100%
7/8 88%
Lineouts Won
14/16 88%
8/8 100%

Player Stats

Exeter Chiefs
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Jonny May
14Nick Malouf
13Manu Tuilagi
12Matt Toomua
11Adam Thompstone
10George Ford2P
9Ben Youngs
1Logovi'i Mulipola
2Tatafu Polota-Nau
3Dan Cole
4Michael Fitzgerald
5Graham Kitchener
6Mike Williams
7Luke Hamilton
8Sione Kalamafoni
16Tom Youngs
17Kyle Traynor
18Chris Baumann
19Harry Wells
20Valentino Mapapalangi
21Sam Harrison
22Joe Ford
23Mathew Tait
Exeter Chiefs
Exeter Chiefs
30

Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
6
Exeter Chiefs
P
P
T
C
T
C
T
T
KOHTFT
Leicester Tigers
P
P

Commentary

80

Safe Trip Home

Thank you to all the travelling supporters who joined us at Sandy Park today and we wish you a safe journey home. 

That's full-time

Tigers end 2017 on the end of a 30-6 defeat to defending Aviva Premiership champions Exeter, with the Chiefs scoring four second-half tries to claim a bonus point

80

Conversion missed

May gets close to charging down the conversion, which strikes the right-hand post.

Exeter bonus point

Exeter finish the game with a bonus-point try. Tigers cannot hold the lineout drive and withe backs joining in, Yeandle dots down.

77

Is that Tigers' last chance

Tigers struggle to find a way through the well-marshalled Exdter defence. But ford goes wide too soon and Tait is bundled into touch 5m out.

Subs for boths sides

Nowell is off for Chiefs, with James Short on. Tuilagi is off for Tigers. Joe Ford is on.

75

Scrum to Exeter

Baumann's first job is to pack down at a scrum in the Exeter 22

Front row change

Chris Baumann is on for Cole at tighthead.

74

Promising position

Tigers are patient in possession and work the space on the left for Mapapalangi to stretch his legs. There the back-rower throws a speculative offload, which goes into touch.

More Tigers replacements

Kyle Traynor and Mathew Tait are on for Mulipola and Thompstone respectively.

Exeter get their third

Exeter send wave after wave down on the Leicester defence. White spots Tigers short-handed on the blindside, where Jonny Hill holds off Ford to score at the corner. It goes unconverted.

Scrum-half swap

Sam Harrison is on for Youngs at scrum-half for Tigers.

Tatafu back on

Polota-Nau is back on at hooker as Tom Youngs goes off for a HIA

66

Exeter claim a third try

Exeter claim a third try as replacement Nic White pounces on loose ball and goes over. However, the score is ruled out for a knock-on in a tackle on halfway. Scrum to Tigers

Steenson converts

Steenson has another simple conversion to move Exeter 20-6 ahead.

Slade glides over

May fails to deal with a high ball and tries to tap the bouncing ball back to Ford. Slade reads it and picks off possession and races over from halfway to score.

Tigers replacements

Coming on are Harry Wells and Valentino Mapapalangi, for Kitchener and Williams.

60

Exeter excellent in defence

Tuilagi, Tom Youngs and Ben Youngs probe the Exeter defence deep in their 22. But Ben's snipe is well spotted and Chiefs win the holding on penalty.

58

Tigers back on the attack

A typical mazy run by May threatens to berak through. Toomua then glides a kick for Thompstone to chase that is slid into touch by Nowell.

57

Turnover Tigers

Tigers strip Exeter of the ball and counterattack. But Malouf runs out of pitch on the far side and Exeter have the lineout on their 10m line.

Tigers replacement

Tigers captain Tom Youngs comes on for Polota-Nau, who has put it a solid shift on his first start.

Exeter conver

Steenson lands a simple conversion bang in front. And the hosts lead 13-16.

Exeter retake the lead

Exeter retain possession through phase after phase to force their way into the Tigers 22. Eventually the pressure tells and Armand forces his way over for the first try.

48

Exeter counterattack

Tigers cannot control the ball at the base of the scrum and Exeter counterattack through Steenson. They are up to halfway and the crowd are getting into the game too.

47

Patient Tigers

Tigers get their hands on the ball for their first real period of possession in the game. They inch to within 8m, where Chiefs hands steal the ball but Waldrom knocks-on. Big scrum coming up

45

Tigers on the attack

Exeter do well to exit their 22, but they find touch 30m out. This is a good platform for the Tigers to attack

44

Tigers on the front foot

A huge hit on Armand forces another knock-on and Ford pins Exeter back with a lovely kick to the corner.

Ford levels the scores

A distraction for Ford as the ball blows over, but he composes himself to land the kick. It levels the scores at 6-6.

41

Penalty to Tigers

May wins a penalty as Exeter fail to release in the tackle. Ford has this to level the scores ...

40

Ford will get us back underway

Tigers will get us going again, attacking the end to our left. They will have the breeze at their backs in the second half.

40

The teams are back out

George Ford leads his team back out for the second period ... followed by the Chiefs

40

Scrappy scrap in the West Country

It's one for the purists, it's fair to say. Torrential pre-match rain and a strong breeze has made for difficult handling conditions. Tigers have defended for much of the half, but Exeter have rarely threatened. What can Tigers do with the breeze at their backs in the second 40?

That's the half

There's enough time for the restart. Ford picks out Will Chudley, who finds touch, and that is half-time. 6-3 to Exeter.

The hosts lead

Exeter win the scrum penalty against the head. Gareth Steenson, with a teammate holding the ball in the wind, boots the Chiefs into a 6-3 lead.

36

Half-time beer

We can see the Telebtubbies leaving their seats early to beat the half-time rush. Happy New Year to Tinky Winky and pals! 

It's over

Ford makes no mistake with his kick, driving it hard and low to level the scores. It's 3-3 at Sandy Park.

34

Scrum penalty Tigers

Tigers have won another scrum penalty on their put-in. Ford is going to go for goal. He is kicking into a strong wind first half ...

32

Clattering Kalamafoni

Kalamafoni collects again at the back of a wayward Exeter lineout and hits Steenson with a huge collision. Tigers win the penalty and Ford kicks them into the Chiefs 22 for the first time.

30

Kick battle

Turner wins that kicking duel, returning Ben Youngs's box kick with interest. Tigers have the throw on their 22.

28

Scare for Tigers

Jack Nowell breaks a couple of tackles and offloasd to the supporting Don Armand. But with the Tigers defence stretched, the back-rower knocks-on. It's been that sort of half. 3-3

28

Tigers penalty

The Tigers front row have their opposite number in trouble and win the penalty. Ford kicks them up to halfway. Tigers dodge a not-straight call at the lineout and have possession ...

28

Scrum on down

Leicester are tenacious in defence and force ex-Tiger Thomas Waldrom into a knock-on. The ball appears to strike Kalamafoni's knee, but the referee calls for the scrum. The 45th, give or take, of the half.

26

Scramble defence

Ben Youngs and May get back to halt Lachie Turner's break. The ball pings around and eventually Malouf claims the mark to find touch.

May's winding run is halted on halfway, where Alec Hepburn wins the holding-on penalty decision from referee Craig Maxwell-Keys. Slade lands the kick for the game's first points. 

21

Another scrum!

The front rowers are earning their corn today. Another scrum, this time Tigers with the put-in. But again they're deep in their territory.

18

More handling errors

Kalamafoni knocks the ball out of Exeter hands with a huge tackle, before the hosts spill the ball forward as they try to mop up. There is no continuity out there for either side.

16

Tigers into Chiefs territory

May and Thompstone make good ground down the left where they make ground into the Exeter half for the first time. But again a handling error gives possession back to Exeter.

15

Running repairs

Graham Kitchener and Tatafu Polota-Nau take a knee after yet another knock-on. Tigers will get the put-in when play resumes.

12

Missed chance

... Yeandle misses his jumper with the throw and Sione Kalamafoni mops up for Ford to find touch. Tigers could do with some possession, though.

11

Exeter to the corner

Exeter win a scrum penalty but again turn down a shot at goal. Henry Slade kicks to the corner ...

10

Mistakes galore

Neither side is really finding a rhythm and the ball keeps going to ground. Thompstone spills possession in trying to gather the ball but makes up with a big hit on Olly Woodburn, which is given as a knock-on against the Tigers man.

Early replacement

Exeter are forced into a replacement at hooker. Luke Cowan-Dickie is off after receiving treatment. Jack Yeandle is on.

7

The England head coach is here

After naming May, G Ford, Cole and B Youngs in his England training camp, Eddie Jones is here to watch the action. And he sees Cole do a job on the Exeter scrum to win the penalty.

5

Slippery ball

The deluge before kick-off is making for difficult handling conditions. Plenty of knock-ons from both sides in the opening moments.

3

... Tigers defend the drive, win possession and then get the penalty for offside. Ford finds touch 30m from their line.

2

Exeter attacking lineout

Exeter win the penalty at the first scrum and Steenson kicks them to the corner ...

0

Kick-off

Tigers are kicking from left to right in the first period, attacking into the wind. They receive the kick-off, which is spilled by Luke Hamilton.

0

Steenson leads the Chiefs out

Gareth Steenson leads out the Chiefs, who will kick-off the game.

0

Here come the Tigers

Matchday captain George Ford leads the Tigers out at a sold-out Sandy Park for this New Year's Eve game in the Aviva Premiership

0

Warm-ups over

Sweet Caroline rings around Sandy Park as Tigers finish their warm-up. Who will be singing at the end of 80 minutes?

0

May day!

All the best to Jonny May, who makes his 100th Premiership Rugby appearance today.

0

Tomahawk Chop

The home team's chant goes up for the first time this afternoon as they finish their warm-up

0

Further weather update

The clouds have cleared, for now, to offer a lovely view from the main stand out to the Exe Estuary. But the wind is still blowing and giving the posts a real buffeting. Kick-off is less than 20 minutes away.

0

Weather update

The rain has eased from biblical to monsoon! 

0

Warm-ups

The teams are out for their warm-ups. The rain is coming in horizontally to our right, the end that the Tigers are warming up at.

0

Welcome to a wet and windy Sandy Park

Where better to spend New Year's Eve than at a rain-lashed Sandy Park for Exeter vs Tigers?


Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Lachlan Turner
14
Jack Nowell
13
Henry Slade
12
Sam Hill
11
Olly Woodburn
10
Gareth Steenson
9
Will Chudley
1
Alec Hepburn
2
Luke Cowan-Dickie
3
Harry Williams
4
Sam Skinner
5
Jonny Hill
6
Dave Ewers
7
Don Armand
8
Thomas Waldrom

Subs

16
Jack Yeandle
17
Carl Rimmer
18
Tomas Francis
19
Mitch Lees
20
Sam Simmonds
21
Nic White
22
Ian Whitten
23
James Short

Team news: Tigers away to Chiefs

A first start for Tigers hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau this weekend
A first start for Tigers hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau this weekend

Australia international hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau makes his first start for Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership Round 12 fixture against Exeter Chiefs on Sunday.

Polota-Nau has made three appearances for Tigers as a replacement following his arrival at Welford Road at the end of the autumn international period and he steps up to the starting line-up for the New Year’s Eve clash against the defending champions and current league leaders.

With club captain Tom Youngs among the replacements, fly-half George Ford leads the Tigers team at Sandy Park.

In the only other change to the line-up from the match at home to Saracens on Christmas Eve, Luke Hamilton returns to the back row, with Valentino Mapapalangi among the replacements.

“It’s another important game,” said Tigers head coach Matt O’Connor. “Chiefs are top of the league, they’ve been the form side in the Aviva Premiership so far, they are champions, they’re playing at home in front of a full house. It is a big challenge.

“We had a good win over them at our place earlier in the season and now we have to go there, show that we’re up for the fight and deliver on what makes us a decent team.”

Leicester Tigers (v Exeter Chiefs, away, Sunday 3.00pm)

15 Mathew Tait

14 Adam Thompstone

13 Manu Tuilagi

12 Matt Toomua

11 Jonny May

10 George Ford (c)

9 Ben Youngs

1 Logovi’i Mulipola

2 Tatafu Polota-Nau

3 Dan Cole 

4 Mike Fitzgerald

5 Graham Kitchener

6 Mike Williams

7 Luke Hamilton

8 Sione Kalamafoni

Replacements

16 Tom Youngs

17 Kyle Traynor

18 Chris Baumann

19 Harry Wells

20 Valentino Mapapalangi

21 Sam Harrison

22 Joe Ford

23 Nick Malouf

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Will Chudley; 1 Alec Hepburn, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3 Harry Williams, 4 Sam Skinner, 5 Jonny Hill, 6 Dave Ewers, 7 Don Armand, 8 Thomas Waldrom

Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Nic White, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 James Short

Big match preview: Tigers at Chiefs

Tom Youngs on the attack in Tigers' win over Exeter in September
Tom Youngs on the attack in Tigers' win over Exeter in September

Leicester Tigers head to Exeter on Sunday for the club’s first New Year's Eve fixture since 1988.

On that last occasion 29 years ago Tigers were 39-13 victors at Nuneaton. Now they chase a fourth away win in the Aviva Premiership season following victories at Harlequins, London Irish and Newcastle.

Exeter Chiefs, though, are the reigning league champions and topped the table last weekend at the halfway point in the campaign.

Tigers have won their last two matches against Exeter – at Welford Road in September and at The Twickenham Stoop in the Anglo-Welsh Cup Final in March. Their record at Sandy Park in Premiership Rugby is won four, lost three.

Overall, the two clubs have met on 56 previous occasions with Tigers winning 37 to 15 by Exeter, plus four draws.

Team news was announced on Friday, with Tigers giving a first start to hooker Tafatu Polota-Nau, while Chiefs include No8 Thomas Waldrom against his former club.

Looking ahead to the game, Tigers full-back Mathew Tait said: “Chiefs are top of the table by some distance at the moment, they are very well drilled, they carry ball well, they are very patient and they’ve got good finishers too when they get their chances.

“We’re not where we want to be and we have to be better. It is only the playing group and the coaching team that can fix that.”

The referee for Sunday is Craig Maxwell-Keys.

Kick-off is at 3pm and if you are not travelling to the game, you can keep up with all of the action using the Matchday Live service on the Tigers website and app.

Tigers return to home turf at Welford Road for the opening game of 2018 next Saturday (January 6) when London Irish are the visitors. Tickets are on sale now.

posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
1
Exeter Chiefs
Exeter ChiefsEXE221705618354264794213485
5
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI2213095374726561555663

Leicester Tigers head to Exeter on Sunday for the club’s first New Year's Eve fixture since 1988.

On that last occasion 29 years ago Tigers were 39-13 victors at Nuneaton. Now they chase a fourth away win in the Aviva Premiership season following victories at Harlequins, London Irish and Newcastle.

Exeter Chiefs, though, are the reigning league champions and topped the table last weekend at the halfway point in the campaign.

Tigers have won their last two matches against Exeter – at Welford Road in September and at The Twickenham Stoop in the Anglo-Welsh Cup Final in March. Their record at Sandy Park in Premiership Rugby is won four, lost three.

Overall, the two clubs have met on 56 previous occasions with Tigers winning 37 to 15 by Exeter, plus four draws.

Team news was announced on Friday, with Tigers giving a first start to hooker Tafatu Polota-Nau, while Chiefs include No8 Thomas Waldrom against his former club.

Looking ahead to the game, Tigers full-back Mathew Tait said: “Chiefs are top of the table by some distance at the moment, they are very well drilled, they carry ball well, they are very patient and they’ve got good finishers too when they get their chances.

“We’re not where we want to be and we have to be better. It is only the playing group and the coaching team that can fix that.”

The referee for Sunday is Craig Maxwell-Keys.

Form Guide
Exeter Chiefs
Form
WWLLW
Last Match
Beat Gloucester 29-17
Past Meeting
Won 40-6
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Leicester Tigers
Form
LLLLL
Last Match
Lost to Racing 11-34
Past Meeting
Lost 6-40

Matchday Live

Exeter Chiefs30
Exeter Chiefs
Leicester Tigers6
Leicester Tigers
Full Time