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Match report | Tigers enjoy opening-day win

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Leicester Tigers got the season off to a winning start with a bonus-point 34-19 victory over Exeter Chiefs at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Saturday.

With 17,000 supporters back in the stadium after 18 months of lockdown and closures, Tigers were never headed by an Exeter team that have reached the last six Premiership Finals.

Freddie Steward, newly capped by England in the summer, set the ball rolling with the team’s opening try of the Gallagher Premiership season inside the first quarter of an hour.

Harry Potter added a second and Matt Scott a third at a crucial time soon after the visitors had a score disallowed as Tigers led 20-5.

The only score of the third quarter was a penalty try to the visitors as they pressured the Tigers line in the style that has made them among the most consistent teams in the league.

But Tigers rallied again with two scores from hooker Nic Dolly, in his first Premiership start, to stretch the lead to beyond 20 points before the visitors added another seven points in the final action of the match.

The game kicked off in glorious sunshine following a minute’s silence in tribute to all of those lost during the pandemic period, including a number of Tigers past players, and it was Tigers who struck first with George Ford landing a third-minute penalty.

Exeter were without some of their big names after the international summer but Steve Borthwick’s Tigers were led out by new club captain Ellis Genge who was busy in possession early on, making good gains in the build-up to a try for Steward at the end of an attack which had threatened in each corner.

Chiefs, though, quickly created their own score in the left-hand corner for Don Armand, using their forwards to attack the line after Tigers had been guilty of infringements in defence.  

They could have had more points on the board, too, only to see Jack Maunder and Jack Innard denied when referee Ian Tempest consulted replays from two close-range finishes after some determined attack.

By that stage, Potter had added a second for Tigers, after Nadolo punched holes in the defence and Ben Youngs fired a long, quick pass out to the left where the wing ran in.

Borthwick’s team added another seven points just before half-time, this time from centre Scott.

An attack along the backline brought Steward on to the ball on the right and, when the bounce from his chip ahead deceived the Chiefs defence, he was able to gather again and Scott arrived at the next breakdown to reach out and score. Ford’s conversion made it 20-5 at the break.

The Tigers defence had to stand up to some more pressure at the start of the second half when Nadolo somehow managed to hold on to Henry Slade as he tried to reach into the right-hand corner and then had a period pinned back close to their own posts.

Although, they managed to get green, white and red shirts under the ball as Exeter pressed the line again, this time referee Tempest awarded a penalty try and also showed a yellow card to Harry Wells, the last man up from the pile of bodies.

That made the score 20-12 but any nerves were calmed by two tries from hooker Dolly in the next eight minutes, first as the maul drove over from a lineout on the right and then repeating the finish on the opposite side with the full forward pack joined by Nadolo and Scott in pushing the final metres as the lead reached 22 points entering the final 10 minutes.

Forward duo Francois van Wyk and Eli Snyman were sent on for the Tigers debuts, Freddie Burns earning a first outing in his second spell at the club and hooker Tom Cowan-Dickie joined them before the end as the game continued to flow from end to end.

Nowell made a timely tackle on Nadolo as he burst clear on the left, then the referee got in the way of an Exeter break on their left touchline before the visitors claimed the day’s final points with the last action of the game.

First, lock Sean Lonsdale was held up over the line under the posts as Tigers gathered in defence but then replacement scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne made the most of a gap in the rearguard to run through for a score which Harvey Skinner converted before the referee brought the afternoon to a close.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 20-5 EXE

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 34-19 EXE

Attendance

17,333

Referee

Ian Tempest

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
34

Full Time

Exeter Chiefs
Exeter Chiefs
19
Leicester Tigers
P
T
T
T
T
T
C
T
C
KOHTFT
Exeter Chiefs
T
T
T
C

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Exeter Chiefs
Possession
40%
60%
Territory
49%
51%
Penalties Conceded
15
9
Yellow Cards
1
0
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
156/181 86%
72/88 82%
Scrums Won
3/6 50%
5/6 83%
Lineouts Won
9/10 90%
12/13 92%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Exeter Chiefs
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Freddie Steward1T
14Harry Potter1T
13Matt Scott1T
12Dan Kelly
11Nemani Nadolo
10George Ford3C1P
9Ben Youngs
1Ellis Genge
2Nic Dolly2T
3Dan Cole
4Harry Wells
5Calum Green
6George Martin
7Tommy Reffell
8Hanro Liebenberg
16Tom Cowan-Dickie
17Francois van Wyk
18Nephi Leatigaga
19Eli Snyman
20Ollie Chessum
21Jack van Poortvliet
22Freddie Burns
23Guy Porter

Commentary

FULL TIME | LEICESTER TIGERS 34 EXETER CHIEFS 19

A winning start to the season with tries from Dolly (2), Steward, Potter and Scott in front of our magnificent fans at out home ground Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

UP AND OVER

Harvey Skinner adds the conversion with the final action of the game.

LATE BREAKTHROUGH

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is through to score under the posts for the visitors.

79

HELD UP

Sean Lonsdale cannot get the ball down under the posts as Tigers gather in defence. For the first time, we see a drop-out from the goal-line.

78

HOME OF RUGBY

Attendance is confirmed as 17,333 as we re-open the doors to Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

Thank you for your support.

77

TOP OF THE POPS

FREDDIE STEWARD is named Fans' Favourite after his performance at full-back today.

77

END TO END

Steward picks off ball in defence, breaks and find Nadolo in support. He has Guy Porter with him but Exeter shut the door this time.

76

QUICK BREAK

Exeter shows some wheels with a break from deep. Tigers race back to cover and then the ball strikes the referee as the visitors play from the breakdown. Scrum ball 25 metres out.

74

BOTH SIDES

Former Exeter player Tom Cowan-Dickie is on for his debut as Tigers replace two-try Nic Dolly. 

74

BRAVE MAN

Jack Nowell takes Nadolo down as the big man closes in on the tryline down the left touchline.

71

FRESH FACE AND LEGS

Welcome to Eli Snyman, on for his debut in the second row.

71

NOT THIS TIME

Freddie Burns is wide with a penalty from the right side.

TWO MORE

Ford's conversion stretches the lead before he makes way and Freddie Burns runs out for his second debut. 

AT THE DOUBLE

NIC DOLLY adds his second try, steering his way to the tryline in the left-hand corner with the full forward pack joined by Nadolo and Scott in pushing those final metres.

66

FIRST XV

Harry Wells returns and claims lineout ball just inside the Exeter halof the field. It brings a penalty award too. 

64

CAPTAIN'S LOG

Big applause as Ellis Genge makes his way to the dugout after a big shift at the front of the Tigers effort.

Another big cheer as Tigers win penalty on the floor in their own half.

63

ON THE BALL

Exeter push forward from their penalty into the left-hand corner and are just a few metres short but the ball is unplayable and it will be a scrum ball.

Francois van Wyk on for his debut, Ollie Chessum added to the pack.

IT'S THERE

George Ford adds the extras from wide on the right.

BONUS POINT

Nic Dolly is on the ball as Tigers patiently push their way to the line from the lineout and he dots down.

PENALTY TRY

Exeter force their way up to the line. The referee says PENALTY TRY and yellow cards is shown to Harry Wells at the bottom of the pile.

SIN BIN

Tigers down to 14 men as Harry Wells is yellow-carded.

55

A WARNING

Tgers drive their rivals into touch from their attacking lineout. But illegally and referee has a word.

54

HELD UP

Tigers wrap up the ball carrier on the whitewash. New rules would mean a drop-ut, but referee was playing advantage to the visitors. We come back to the penalty in the corner.

51

IN THE WAY

Exeter are 5 metres out after a penalty into the corner. Tigers stand up to them but when they go across the field, the ball hits referee Tempest and play will start with a scrum to the visitors.

49

FIRST CHANGE

Big receptions for both Ben Youngs as he leaves and Jack van Poortvliet as he arrives at scrum-half

48

HEAVY TRAFFIC

Tigers use Nadolo and replacement Leatigaga to attack the Exeter 5-metre line and the crowd is loving it.

A penalty into the right-hand corner...

44

BRILLIANT DEFENCE

Nowell times a perfect pass for Slade in the right-hand corner but Nadolo holds him just short of the tryline and the ball slips out of play.  

41

KICK-OFF

Exeter get us started for the second half.

40

WEATHER REPORT

Well the sun has gone in behind the clouds, but you can bet the action will still be red hot on the field as we await the second 40 minutes on this opening day of the season.

40

CHEERS JOHN

Nice gesture to John Griffiths, hero of so many Away Supporters Club trips, who is enjoying today in the posh seats with friends. It is the least he deserves for his efforts in getting fans to games all over Europe over the last 20 years. 

We look forward to seeing John and the rest of you at Gloucester on Friday.

HALF-TIME | Tigers 20 Chiefs 5

Tries from Steward, Potter and Scott give Tigers the lead, with Don Armand scoring for the visitors. Big score from Scott just short of the break sets up a big second 40 minutes.

38

FINISHING POWER

Good ball along the backline then Freddie Steward chips ahead on the right. The bounce beats the Chiefs defence and, when they make the tackle just short, Tigers are there in numbers and MATT SCOTT hits the tryline.

FORD adds the conversion for a 15-point lead.

WHAT A SCORE

TRY from MATT SCOTT.

34

NARROW ESCAPE

NO TRY. Jack Innard takes the tap penalty, bounces off the tackle and pushes over the tryline.

We are almost set for the conversion when the TMO draws attention to the incident and it is eventually ruled he has hit the floor and tackle is complete short of the chalk.

The home crowd raise the noise as Ford kicks clear from the penalty but it's been a good few minutes for the visitors.

32

TOE TO TOE

Phase after phase of attack meets mean defence on the Tigers tryline. But after clawing back possession, referee brings it back for penalty advantage and warns the defenders. Another penalty.

32

CHECK-UP

NO TRY. Referee Ian Tempest watches the replays numerous times. He's looking at the tackle, he's looking at the attack...

Finally gives his verdict. But it's an Exeter penalty 5 metres out

31

INCHING FORWARD

Chiefs could be in here. They've had 3 goes at the tryline after Steward's saving tackle on Jack Nowell. But they already have penalty advantage when Jack Maunder makes the final wriggle.

30

Referee penalises Genge for late hit on SImmonds near halfway. Slade uses his left foot to take the penalty down the touchline. They have lineout ball 10 metres out...

28

FROM THE TOUCHLINE

Brett Deacon tells BT that winning collisions has been important so far but aware of the challenge Chiefs pose. "Quality of the ball carry" is key.

23

WIDE OF THE MARK

Ford is off-target with the conversion but it's 13-5 for the hosts.

Nadolo looks a lot better in full flight from the stands than he does if you're a defender.

COMING THROUGH

Nadolo on the charge from just inside the Chiefs half, makes a hole in defence and when he is taken down just short of the line, they go left with a long pass and HARRY POTTER scores.

IN THE CORNER

22

COLE SACK

Dan Cole meets Devoto, contents the ball at the same time as driving him back. It earns praise from the stands but the referee blows the whistle. Initially he considered a penalty, but it's scrum ball to Tigers...

Now it's a penalty.

Collapse in the front row.

 

20

QUARTER-TIME

Twenty minutes into the season, one try each (Steward - Armand) and it's been open, bright and entertaining as well as physical so far. Not to mention warm. 

CLOSE-RANGE SCORE

Chiefs have a penalty and push it into the left corner. From the lineout, DON ARMAND spots a chance, picks up and reaches to the line for the try.

Joe Simmonds pushes conversion wide.

 

12

REWARD FOR PATIENCE

Tigers attack to the right, then go to the left corner, keeping ball alive and Chiefs back on their heels.

Genge and Nadolo carry strongly, the forwards hit their rucks and eventually there is space on the right for FREDDIE STEWARD to score.

Ford wide with the kick but it's an eight-point lead.

 

TRY TIME

First of the season...

10

STANDING FIRM

First scrum of the day brings a penalty against the visitors for a collapse. Ford kicks down the left into their 22.

5

SPILLAGE

Chiefs looking to build through their forward carry and recycling but they turn over ball inside the Tigers 22. Ford hammers it clear.

OPENING POINTS

Ford lands the penalty from beyond the 10-metre line and Tigers  have first points of the game, the day and the season.

2

FLYING HIGH

Great take from Freddie Steward. Tackled in the air and play will restart with a penalty 40 metres out...

KICK-OFF

It’s George Ford to get the season started here at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, kicking towards the Mattioli Woods Stand end.  

0

PAY TRIBUTE

A minute’s silence is observed ahead of kick-off in memory of all the loved ones who have been lost during the period of the pandemic, including a number of former players – Bleddyn Jones, Phil Horrocks-Taylor, Brian Small, Nick Drake-Lee, David Bird, Chris Baynes, Dave Forfar, Richard Berry, Leighton Jenkins and Graham Jackson among them – and to acknowledge the continuing commitment of key workers.

0

Welcome home

The stadium is filling up nicely in the sunshine. It's great to have you back.

0

THE OPPOSING TEAM

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Josh Hodge, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom O'Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder; 1 Alec Hepburn, 2 Jack Innard, 3 Harry Williams, 4 Will Witty, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 Jannes Kirsten, 7 Don Armand, 8 Rus Tuima
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Sam Nixon, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Christ Tshiunza, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Tom Hendrickson

0

HOW TIGERS LINE-UP

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Ellis Genge (c), 2 Nic Dolly, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Calum Green, 6 George Martin, 7 Tommy Reffell, 8 Hanro Liebenberg

Replacements: 16 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Nephi Leatigaga, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Ollie Chessum, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Guy Porter

0

MATCH PREVIEW | ROUND 1

Leicester Tigers will run out in front of supporters on all four sides of their home stadium for the first time in 18 months as the season opens against Exeter Chiefs this afternoon.

Led out by club captain Ellis Genge, Tigers include international half-backs Ben Youngs and George Ford alongside Harry Wells, Freddie Steward and Dan Kelly who gained first England caps in the summer. Summer signings Eli Snyman and Francois van Wyk are included among the replacements alongside hooker Tom Cowan-Dickie.

Chiefs include Jack Nowell and Henry Slade in his backline, while summer arrivals Sam Nixon (from Bayonne) and Ryan McCauley (Waratahs) are on the bench.

Read all the important facts and stats in our full match preview here.

0

WELCOME TO MATCHDAY LIVE!

We’re LIVE for Leicester Tigers’ Gallagher Premiership opener against Exeter Chiefs at Mattioli Woods Welford Road. Kick-off is at 3.00pm.

Follow all the action with our Matchday Live coverage right here on the Tigers App and LeicesterTigers.com.

 


Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Josh Hodge
14
Jack Nowell
13
Henry Slade
12
Ollie Devoto
11
Tom O'Flaherty
10
Joe Simmonds
9
Jack Maunder
1
Alec Hepburn
2
Jack Innard
3
Harry Williams
4
Will Witty
5
Sean Lonsdale
6
Jannes Kirsten
7
Don Armand
8
Rusiate Tuima

Subs

16
Jack Yeandle
17
Ben Moon
18
Sam Nixon
19
Ryan McCauley
20
Christ Tshiunza
21
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
22
Harvey Skinner
23
Tom Hendrickson

Team News | Tigers side for season-opener

Steve Borthwick has named the Leicester Tigers matchday squad for the Gallagher Premiership season-opener against Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.

Ellis Genge will lead the side for the first time in a Premiership fixture at Mattioli Woods Welford Road since being appointed club captain.

The 26-year-old is named alongside Nic Dolly – in his first Premiership start – and Dan Cole in the Tigers front row, with Harry Wells and Calum Green paired as the Leicester locks.

Vice-captain Hanro Liebenberg starts at No8, with Tigers Academy graduates George Martin and Tommy Reffell the flankers. 

Ben Youngs and George Ford are the starting half-backs, with Dan Kelly and Matt Scott named as the centre pairing in the Leicester midfield. 

Nemani Nadolo and Harry Potter are the wings in the Tigers back three with full-back Freddie Steward. 

Among the replacements, Borthwick includes a trio of Tigers to make their debut appearances in Tom Cowan-Dickie, Eli Snyman and Francois van Wyk, who are joined by Nephi Leatigaga and Ollie Chessum as the forwards on the bench. Jack van Poortvliet, Freddie Burns and Guy Porter are the replacement backs.

Previewing the season-opener at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, Borthwick said: “We enjoyed the chance to be back playing in front of Leicester Tigers supporters during the pre-season and are pleased we have the opportunity to start the new season with them on Saturday.

“We have had a good pre-season and laid some strong foundations for the campaign ahead, with a lot of hard work from each player on and off the pitch.”

Speaking about Saturday’s opponents, the Tigers head coach added: “The Chiefs have been the benchmark side in the league for more than half the past decade, appearing in every Premiership final since 2016.

“It is a squad packed with internationals and a wealth of experience who have also played together for a long time, which will be a good test for our group at this point on our journey against a team of this quality."

STARTING XV
15 Freddie Steward [35]
14 Harry Potter [16]
13 Matt Scott [25]
12 Dan Kelly [20]
11 Nemani Nadolo [16]
10 George Ford [105]
9 Ben Youngs [264]
1 Ellis Genge (c) [89]
2 Nic Dolly [3]
3 Dan Cole [264]
4 Harry Wells [124]
5 Calum Green [60]
6 George Martin [17]
7 Tommy Reffell [47]
8 Hanro Liebenberg (vc) [36]

REPLACEMENTS
16 Tom Cowan-Dickie **
17 Francois van Wyk **
18 Nephi Leatigaga [42]
19 Eli Snyman **
20 Ollie Chessum [8]
21 Jack van Poortvliet [21]
22 Freddie Burns [76]
23 Guy Porter [17]

** denotes Leicester Tigers senior debut

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Josh Hodge, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom O'Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder; 1 Alec Hepburn, 2 Jack Innard, 3 Harry Williams, 4 Will Witty, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 Jannes Kirsten, 7 Don Armand, 8 Rus Tuima
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Sam Nixon, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Christ Tshiunza, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Tom Hendrickson

posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
1
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI550014976731983023
4
Exeter Chiefs
Exeter ChiefsEXE53021371033419122115
Form Guide
Form
WWWWW
Last Match
Beat Worcester Warriors 48-3
Past Meeting
Won 34-19
Form
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Past Meeting
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Last Match
Beat Wasps 27-23
Past Meeting
Lost 19-34

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Leicester Tigers34
Leicester Tigers
Exeter Chiefs19
Exeter Chiefs
Full Time