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Bonus win takes Tigers up to third

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Leicester Tigers moved up to third in the Aviva Premiership table with a 31-27 bonus-point win over the Exeter Chiefs on Sunday afternoon.

Welford Road was treated to some brilliant Leicester scores as Tigers ran in four tries in victory to close the gap on second-placed Chiefs.
 
Manu Tuilagi finished a wonderful flowing move to add to an earlier penalty try as Tigers led 17-6 at half-time. Peter Betham’s length-of-the-field try extended the lead further before Adam Thompstone finished off a brilliant lineout move to bring up the bonus point.
 
But Exeter staged a late fightback to return to the south west with a losing bonus point, as they scored through Dave Lewis, Ian Whitten and, right on full-time, through replacement Kai Horstmann.
 
Tigers were disrupted before kick-off when Mat Tait pulled up with a groin injury during the warm-up. Tommy Bell came in at full-back as a straight replacement.
 
Logovi'i Mulipola, Vereniki Goneva and Betham returned to the starting line-up, while Harry Thacker continued at hooker in the absence through injury of internationals Leonardo Ghiraldini and Tom Youngs.
 
Owen Williams was included among the replacements after recovering from a fractured jaw in the home win over Northampton Saints in early January. And there was a Welford Road return for Exeter forwards Geoff Parling and Julian Salvi after their move to Sandy Park in the summer.
 
Welford Road was in loud voice early on as Thacker swooped on a loose ball and took Tigers from the edge of their 22 into the Chiefs half. Goneva and Betham made further inroads before Tigers’ attack was halted for a forward pass by McCaffrey.
 
The Exeter defensive line was quickly up in the opening exchanges to close the space on Tigers. Adam Thompstone tried to keep the Exeter defence honest with a  grubber kick behind the on-rushing defence that took a deflection on its way through to give Tigers a lineout inside the Exeter 22.

Tigers, meanwhile, often looked for the aerial route to put pressure on the Exeter back three, with one kick allowing Tuilagi to take Phil Dollman man-and-ball.
 
Tigers dominated the possession and territory in the opening 15 minutes but were unable to find a way through. Instead, they were awarded a penalty as the Chiefs infringed at the back of a ruck and Burns kicked them into a 3-0 lead.
 
Exeter were awarded a penalty a couple of minutes later when McCaffrey was adjudged to have gone off his feet in stealing possession from Sam Hill and Gareth Steenson levelled the scores.
 
A promising Tigers attack was stopped by Matt Jess’s deliberate knock-on that stopped Goneva’s pass putting Bell away down the left wing. However, Bell was wide with his touchline kick as it remained 3-3.
 
Tigers turned defence into attack when Croft pounced on a loose ball on their 10m line and Burns angled a lovely kick to the corner for Betham and Goneva to chase. Lewis, under huge pressure, conceded the lineout 5m from his line.
 
At the lineout, Slater set up the drive and with Tuilagi and Goneva among the backs joining in, Tigers had Exeter back-pedalling. Thacker looked certain to score but was tackled from an offside position by Parling, who received a yellow card before referee Matthew Carley awarded a penalty try. Burns converted to give Leicester a 10-3 lead.
 
Tigers were rampant and scored a second try immediately. Turn-over ball on halfway allowed Goneva to dance down the left flank. Play came back inside where lovely hands from Betham and Mike Fitzgerald put Ayerza away, and he had Tuilagi in support for a simple finish. Burns’s touchline conversion put Leicester 17-3 up.
 
Exeter responded by putting together their first real period of possession to inch their way up to the Tigers 10m line. Lewis hit Thacker with his pass to win an offside penalty and Steenson landed a simple kick to leave Leicester 17-6 ahead at half-time.
 
Tigers introduced Fraser Balmain for Mulipola at the break and they had to face a huge barrage of pressure early in the second period as the Chiefs came at Leicester hard.

Tuilagi stopped Whitten just short of the line, before their big back-rowers Dave Ewers and Don Armand tried to force a way over from close range.
 
Tigers weathered the storm and stormed to the other end to score a scintillating third try.
 
Steenson took his eye off the ball as Thacker lined up his tackle and conceded possession. Kitto switched it quickly to Betham who outpaced the Exeter defence over 60m to score at the left corner. Burns’s conversion gave Leicester a 24-6 lead.
 
A brilliant training ground routine brought up the bonus point score with 30 minutes still to play. Thacker threw long over the back of the lineout where McCaffrey was on the move. His inside pass found Thompstone at full pelt and he held off James Short to score under the posts. Burns’s extras gave Tigers a 31- 6 lead.
 
Tigers were called on in defence as Exeter tried to make a 5m lineout pay. Their first two efforts were pulled down, resulting in Barrow receiving a yellow card. Tigers sacked the drive at the third attempt but Exeter kept the ball alive and claimed a try when Armand drove up to the line but itwas ruled out by the television match official.
 
Eventually the pressure told and Exeter scored their try. It came from their most likely source, a driving lineout, and was finished off by Lewis. Converted by Steenson it left Tigers 31-13 ahead with 22 minutes remaining.
 
And they cut the deficit by a further seven points moments later. Tigers were down to 13 men as Ayerza received treatment and Exeter made the extra men count, Whitten ghosting through to score under the posts. Steenson added the conversion to leave Leicester 31-20 ahead.
 
Tigers stood firm in the face of another wave of Exeter attacks before Croft pounced on loose ball to ease the pressure.
 
Referee Carley consulted his TMO for a tackle by Jess on Burns as the Tigers fly-half jumped above him to claim a high ball. Jess was yellow-carded and Burns was able to kick Tigers back into the Chiefs 22.
 
Tigers were back up to full strength with Mike Williams coming on for Barrow and Owen Williams replacing Burns.
 
However, it was the Chiefs who finished the stronger. Tigers were under pressure at their own scrum put-in 10m from their line but secured possession for Bell to find touch on halfway.
 
It was all hands to the pump, with McCaffrey pinching ball on the Leicester 22 before Kitto read an inside pass to steal possession on halfway.
 
Exeter had one last opportunity from a penalty lineout as the clock ticked past full-time. Tigers held up the drive and then stopped Whitten crossing on the left. But they were unable to stop Exeter’s momentum a couple of phases later and Horstmann drove over from close range to claim their bonus point.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 17-6 EXE

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 31-27 EXE

Attendance

20,173

Referee

Matthew Carley

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
31

Full Time

Exeter Chiefs
Exeter Chiefs
27

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Exeter Chiefs
Possession
40%
60%
Territory
36%
64%
Penalties Conceded
11
7
Yellow Cards
1
2
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
141/168 84%
91/106 86%
Scrums Won
6/6 100%
10/11 91%
Lineouts Won
13/13 0%
15/15 0%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Exeter Chiefs
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Tommy Bell
14Adam Thompstone1T
13Peter Betham1T
12Manu Tuilagi1T
11Vereniki Goneva
104C1P
9Jono Kitto
1Marcos Ayerza
2Harry Thacker
3Logovi'i Mulipola
4Michael Fitzgerald
5Dom Barrow
6Tom Croft
7Lachlan McCaffrey
8Ed Slater
16
17Riccardo Brugnara
18Fraser Balmain
19Graham Kitchener
20Mike Williams
21George Tresidder
22Owen Williams
23Telusa Veainu

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV

Tommy Bell
15
Tommy Bell
Peter Betham
13
Peter Betham
Vereniki Goneva
11
Vereniki Goneva
10
Jono Kitto
9
Jono Kitto
Marcos Ayerza
1
Marcos Ayerza
Dom Barrow
5
Dom Barrow
Lachlan McCaffrey
7
Lachlan McCaffrey
Ed Slater
8
Ed Slater

Subs

16
Riccardo Brugnara
17
Riccardo Brugnara
Fraser Balmain
18
Fraser Balmain
George Tresidder
21
George Tresidder
Owen Williams
22
Owen Williams

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
14
Matt Jess
13
Ian Whitten
12
Sam Hill
11
James Short
10
9
Dave Lewis
1
Moray Low
2
Jack Yeandle
3
Tomas Francis
4
Ollie Atkins
5
Geoff Parling
6
Dave Ewers
7
Julian Salvi
8
Don Armand

Subs

16
Elvis Taione
17
Alec Hepburn
18
Harry Williams
19
Lewis Stevenson
20
Kai Horstmann
21
Will Chudley
22
Will Hooley
23
posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
2
Exeter Chiefs
Exeter ChiefsEXE22150758536122471408674
4
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI2214085094753455486365
Form Guide
Form
WLWLW
Last Match
Beat Wasps 38-31
Past Meeting
Lost 31-47
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WWWWL
Last Match
Lost to Harlequins 38-40
Past Meeting
Won 47-31

Matchday Live

Leicester Tigers31
Leicester Tigers
Exeter Chiefs27
Exeter Chiefs
Full Time