Leicester Tigers gained a fifth Gallagher Premiership win of the season with a 13-7 victory over London Irish at Welford Road on Wednesday evening.
A try from David Williams, just moments after Tom Youngs had been denied by the TMO, helped to give Tigers a 10-0 half-time lead in Round 16.
Hanro Liebenberg was held up over the tryline in the opening minutes of the second half and debutant Nemani Nadolo denied as the TMO spotted a deflection forward before the Exiles got on the board with a converted try to make it 13-7 with 20 minutes left to play.
Tommy Reffell also had a score disallowed before Tigers closed out the win with some patience on the ball in the closing stages.
The result denied the visitors a seasonal double over Tigers after their win at the Madejski Stadium in the early weeks of the league season had ended a run of six Leicester victories in the meetings of the teams.
With both sets of coaches keen to rotate during a spell of three games in eight days, Tigers recalled internationals Ellis Genge, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Ben Youngs and George Ford while giving a first run-out to recent arrival Nemani Nadolo.
Referee Luke Pearce, reaching a century of Premiership matches, got the game in underway on a bright early evening with Ford launching a kick towards the Robin Hood Stand end.
Within seconds he had turned down a shot at goal from 25 metres to raise the tempo with ball in hand and Tigers stayed on the attack as Jordan Taufua linked with Matt Scott in midfield to create space on the right but Williams was closed out just short of the tryline.
Ford did, though, open the scoring with a 40-metre kick with seven minutes gone.
Nadolo had his first chance on the left as Tigers spread play from a turnover won by Williams and the big Fijian attracted two defenders before offloading for Ben Youngs who was taken into touch 20 metres out.
With Harry Wells off for a head injury check after just 10 minutes, George Martin got another taste of Premiership rugby from the bench, though he also made an early exit after taking a knock.
When Irish did get forward, with a Paddy Jackson kick down the left, Tigers defended solidly and pushed play back up towards halfway where Tommy Reffell’s work at the breakdown gained a penalty.
Carries from Nadolo and Ellis Genge threatened in attack and then a smart kick over his shoulder from Ben Youngs forced the Exiles on to their own line as the drinks break arrived.
Play restarted with an Irish lineout on their five-metre line and, when they missed the throw, Martin capitalised, took play to the line and Tom Youngs drove over. The referee initially awarded the score but was persuaded by TMO Sean Davey that the Tigers skipper had been held up.
The game restarted with a scrum and thus time Ford quickly moved ball from left to right and Freddie Steward’s pass gave Williams the scoring chance on the right, dotting down in the corner for his first Premiership try. Ford added a pinpoint conversion from the touchline for a 10-point lead on 25 minutes.
A penalty against the Tigers scrum finally gave Irish a platform in attack but tackles from Tom Youngs, Reffell, Ford and Dan Cole ushered their rivals into touch. When they had another set of phases on the ball, they were met by even stronger defence, again led by Youngs and Reffell plus a big hit from Taufua.
It was the Exiles’ best spell of the half, though Ford sent them back with a towering 40-metre clearance and then Williams closed out Hassell-Collins as Tigers reached the break 10-0 in front.
Williams was back in the action as the game got back underway, sliding a kick down the touchline which pinned Irish back.
Liebenberg and Cole both went close to providing the final push in possession before the South African was held up over the tryline.
The five-metre scrum collapsed and Ford elected to add the three-pointer to make it 13-0 on 46 minutes while referee Pearce spoke to Irish captain Blair Cowan about discipline at the set-piece.
Nadolo tantalisingly saw space on the left as Tigers played across the backline, but the whistle brought play back for a forward pass.
More disappointment followed when Genge’s pop pass deflected forward off Luke Wallace and Nadolo ran through to dot down, only to have the knock-on confirmed between referee and TMO.
Wallace was alert to the danger as Wallabies cap Curtis Rona threatened to break the defensive line, but Irish still had attacking ball and also an extra man when Calum Green was sin-binned as he failed to retreat and tackled scrum-half Ben Meehan at a tap tackle just metres out from the line.
Nadolo anchored the scrum but Tigers had to withstand a charge for the line from Irish No8 Albert Tuisue, getting bodies under him as he tried to dot down.
Reffell was up smartly to stop Tuisue as he tried again, but the flanker was then whistled for offside as he made a follow-up tackle with Tigers camped back on their line.
The Exiles kept the ball tight and finally got over the line with a score for scrum-half Ben Meehan, fly-half Paddy Jackson adding the conversion entering the final quarter.
A good carry from replacement Nephi Leatigaga gave Tigers attacking ball but Ford pulled a drop kick wide of the posts.
The fly-half made instant amends with a break towards the left corner and Reffell dived in. Again, referee Pearce was inclined to award the score but checked and found a Tigers player offside and blocking the defence.
A scrappy closing period saw Tigers thankful to Leatigaga’s intervention in defence with Irish breaking some determined cover on halfway.
Tigers, with Ben White prompting from scrum-half, played down the clock through phases at close quarters with Leatigaga and Joe Heyes on the ball, wrapping up the victory.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
Tigers have that winning feeling again! Thank you to everyone who tuned into our Matchday Live coverage for this evening's match.
We'll be back on Sunday (August 30, 4.30pm) when Tigers travel to Kingsholm to face Gloucester Rugby.
Until then, goodbye.
FULL TIME | 13-7
There are cheers from the Tigers backs as the referee's arm goes up on the home side with the clock in the red, and George Ford kicks the ball out for full-time.
THROUGH THE PHASES
Tigers have possession on halfway, and Ben White marshals his forwards to keep control of the ball as the seconds tick away.
ON THE BALL
...but Nephi Leatigaga is ready to make up for his recent misdemeanours, and the big man plants himself over the ball on the floor and he wins the breakdown penalty. That's pressure relieved for now.
The Exiles shift gears as they break into the Tigers half through TJ Ioane...
MAUL TURNED OVER
Charlie Clare finds his mark in Hanro Liebenberg, but the ball is turned over in the tangle of limbs and so Irish will have the put-in at this late scrum with five minutes of the match remaining.
OVER THE BALL!
That's a huuuge moment. Tigers win the ball back on the floor inside their own half, and as the players emerge from the ruck it's Nadolo who can claim the plaudits for that one.
But the ball is back in Irish hands before too long after Leatigaga is pinged for offside. Jackson's kick is into the Tigers' half...
Freddie Steward climbs highest - very high, indeed - to juggle a George Ford kick, and the pair have made great ground into the Irish half once more.
Tigers swarm over the visitors as the Exiles attempt to break from their half, and Jackson has to go to the boot to find some ground.
The take turns into a maul, but Tigers keep the man up and the penalty goes Leicester's way.
...and so it happens to be.
Nephi Leatigaga is adjudged to have obstructed the No9, and another score is removed from the board.
TMO | POSSIBLE TIGERS TRY
George Ford runs a brilliant arc around the fringe of the Irish defence, and feeds Tommy Reffell at the last moment to dive over and score.
But we'll check the build-up to the try, with scrum-half Meehan going to ground...
MISSED DROP GOAL
Matt Scott is picked out in midfield, but the white-shirted defenders are on him quickly and force Ford into a drop-goal attempt which just slides wide.
The visitors make a trio of changes as Matt Cornish, Lovejoy Chawatama and TJ Ioane all join the action.
Tigers push up the field courtesy of some of their fresh legs, and into the Irish 22.
All change in the front row for Tigers as Nephi Leatigaga, Charlie Clare and Joe Heyes all join the fray, and Ben White comes on at scrum-half.
AND THE CONVERSION
Jackson adds the extras and this is now a six-point game.
IRISH CRASH OVER
Leicester's whitewash warriors hold back the Exiles charge for a number of phases, but ultimately the one-man advantage tells and the visitors crash over through scrum-half Ben Meehan.
JACKSON TAKES ADVANTAGE
Luke Pearce sticks an arm out on the visitors' side as the Tigers defenders re-group on their line, and Paddy Jackson chips over the top under penalty advnatge.
The ball bobbles dead, so we'll come back for another scrum.
EXILES HELD UP!
Jordan Taufua comes into the engine room at the scrum and it's Nemani 'The Powerhouse' Nadolo who packs down at No8 to defend the five-metre scrum.
Albert Tuisue gets over the line, but he's held up and the scrum will be reset.
YELLOW CARD | CALUM GREEN
Tigers give away a penalty on their five-metre line and scrum-half Ben Meehan taps-and-goes with the ball, and Calum Green sacrifices himself to make the illegal tackle and stop the score.
He'll spend 10 minutes in the sin bin.
PENALISED ON THE GROUND
Luke Wallace is pinged for disrupting Irish ball on the floor a little too enthusiastically, and Paddy Jackson drills the ball into the empty stands to set up a lineout in the corner.
Possessions flip-flops from one side to another, with Tigers forced into some huge defensive hits, and Dan Cole gets his man to ground judo-style to slow down the Irish attack.
Nadolo dives over the line after a brilliant pop-pass from Ellis Genge, but slow mo replays show the ball bounces forward off Luke Wallace and the five points will be chalked off. False alarm.
Jack Cooke is on for London Irish back-rower Ben Donnell.
HANDBAGS AT DAWN
Maybe it's the frustration of another scrum gone wrong, but the Irish pack don't like that one. There's a little bit of afters as the two front rows come up ... but Tigers have the penalty and can pin the viistors back into their own 22.
Irish unleash their backs, but they replicate Tigers' mistake and commit a forward pass on the fringe.
That means we'll have another scrum - and the only person celebrating that fact is probably Boris Stankovich.
Tigers win some unexpected possession off the kick-off as Tom Homer can't quite take the kick, and Jaco Taute's looping pass out to Nemani Nadolo just creeps forward. Shame.
FORD ADDS THREE
Three more points from George Ford bring Tigers' tally to 13 points so far in this match.
After a scrum reset, Tigers win the penalty and opt for a shot at goal.
TIGERS HELD UP!
The forwards batter the whitewash as they sniff an early second-half score, but Hanro Liebenberg is held up on the final attempt, so Ben Youngs will have the put-in at a five-metre scrum.
DOWN THE WING
Jaco Taute combines with try-scorer Williams to break down the right-hand side to get Tigers up into the 22.
The visitors miss their man off the back of the lineout and then double down on their error when Curtis Rona fails to take the pass a few phases later.
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY
We're back underway at Welford Road for the second half of this Gallagher Premiership clash.
HALF TIME | 10-0
David Williams marshals Ollie Hassell-Collins into touch and that's the half. Tigers have the lead at the break, 10 points to nil.
Luke Pearce keeps the game going as possession flits from one side to another and Tigers even get up into the Irish 22, only to be brought back for a technical infringement in their own half.
INTO THE 22
The Exiles are into the Tigers 22 as they attempt to set up a rolling maul from their lineout.
CLASH OF HEADS
A brief lull as London Irish loosehead Harry Elrington is toweled down for a blood injury.
STEWARD UP IN THE AIR
London Irish pick out young Freddie Steward with a kick of their own, but the full-back is more than assured in plucking the ball out of the dusk.
Tigers win the scrum battle once more, and George Ford calls on his siege boot to pin London Irish back on halfway - a Tigers gain of about 40 metres. Not bad.
Irish pull the trigger on a choreographed move off the back of their scrum, but the Tigers defenders are ready and waiting - with Jordan Taufua putting in a pair of mammoth tackles to deny the visitors, before the ball is knocked on by the Exiles.
Ellis Genge carries the ball up at great speed as Tigers win their own lineout, but it's Blair Cowan who manages to dislodge the ball from the Baby Rhino's grasp and force another scrum.
BUNDLED INTO TOUCH
Some more big hits from the Tigers defenders, with Dan Cole called upon in the green line and then once again a couple of pahses later as he bundles Jackson over the touchline.
There's an immediate response from London Irish, as they win possession from the restart and then a penalty, which fly-half Paddy Jackson uses to pin Tigers back into the corner.
George Martin, a replacement himself, trudges up the tunnel after seemingly getting injured in his reach out for the try line, and Luke Wallace joins the action.
Hanro Liebenberg will shift into the second row.
George Ford adds the extras from the tee and Tigers lead 10 points to nil.
WILLIAMS DOTS DOWN
Second time lucky! Tigers try to get Nadolo into the game off the back of the scrum, but instead the ball gets out to David Williams, who dots down on the right.
Up, down and back up again - we reckon there would be a few jeers from the Terrace if it took this long to set up a scrum with the #TigersFamily at home!
But the home side win the penalty and go for the shove once more, as Youngs and Co smell blood...
TMO | TIGERS DENIED
George Martin gobbles up a dodgy Irish lineout on the five-metre line, and Tom Youngs crashes over just a couple of phases later ... but TMO Sean Davey overturns the on-field decision.
The Exiles keep the ball for a few phases as they threaten in Tigers' half, but Nadolo wins the ball back - one-handed - in front of an empty Breedon Terrace and sets up a brilliant George Ford clearance kick moments later.
...but the visitors pounce on a loose ball and Curtis Rona makes a half-break through Tigers lines to get back into the home half.
Tigers use Nadolo off the back of the set-piece and he draws in four defenders as he breaks into the Irish 22.
REFFELL WINS THE BALL
The Exiles look dangerous once more as they probe the right-hand side, but Tommy Reffell gets over the ball and wins a peep on referee Luke Pearce's whistle.
The away team make the most of the ball for the first time in this pass as they nudge up and over halfway, but the green wall holds strong.
Tigers get the decision at the first scrum, but captain Tom Youngs calls for his pack to go again.
The home side win the shoving battle once more, and the kick goes out to the right for Williams ... Hassell-Collins gets a hand to it, but it very nearly bounces into the Tigers wing's grasp!
Martin is straight into the action at lock as a like-for-like replacement with Wells as we get going with a scrum.
Martin is on for Wells in an early injury-enforced change.
BREAK IN PLAY
A pause in the action as Harry Wells receives treatment after an awkward-looking collision, and No19 George Martin is down from his place in the Breedon Stand to warm up on the side of the pitch.
Tom Homer gets under the ball for Irish, but he doesn't have it for long - we think it's Dan Cole who wins the ball back on the deck, and possession is shipped out to Nadolo for his first touch on the left.
He shrugs off the first defender and offloads to Ben Youngs, but he is brough down just on the Irish 22.
FIRST BLOOD TO TIGERS
A perfect penalty from Ford gets Tigers off the mark in this game.
SHOT AT GOAL
Sekope Kepu comes in at the side of a breakdown in the middle of the field, and fly-half Ford can't resist a first attempt at the posts this evening.
The ball is quickly whipped from right to left in the next phase of play and we almost - almost - see a first touch of the ball for Nemani Nadolo, but the final pass is just behidn the big Fijian.
INTO THE CORNER!
Leicester come off the top of the lineout quickly and feed the ball out to Williams on the right, who breaks all the way up the corner before he is tackled into touch. Close!
...but Jaco Taute gets over the ball to win Tigers a penalty and Ford drills it downfield.
Irish get the ball out of their scrum and kick downfield, before Exiles wing Ollie Hassell-Collins does a great job of getting under the return.
Tigers start at an electric pace as they push up into the London Irish 22 through some heavy carries, but the last pass out to wing David Williams goes awry and we'll pack down for the first time this evening.
KICK OFF IN ROUND 16
George Ford gets Tigers underway at Welford Road in this midweek fixture.
RUGBY AGAINST RACISM
The players take their now-familiar places as we show our solidarity for equality in our sport under the banner of Rugby Against Racism.
A MOMENT OF REFLECTION
We will take a moment of silence to remember those lost too soon and to pay tribute to the brave NHS staff and key workers in our community who have been working so hard during this challenging period.
FIVE MINUTES TO GO
Not long to go now...
SUPPORT FROM HOME
We really wish you could be taking your usual place at Welford Road and backing the boys this evening. But you can still support your Tigers by showing us where you’re watching from and using #TigersAtHome across social media.
COME ON TIGERS!
TEAM TALK | TIGERS TAKE ON THE EXILES
Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick says he expects to see more from his team against a ‘dangerous’ London Irish outfit this evening.
“We have got to keep making steps forward … as a coach you are always dissatisfied, you always want more,” he told LTTV.
“They have got some dangerous runners and a really experienced coaching team, a smart coaching team … I’m looking forward to it and know our players are.”
“Every day you have got to find ways to learn. When you have got short turnarounds and midweek games, a lot of that learning is off the field, so we need to make sure we maximise those opportunities.”
Watch the full Team Talk, brought to you by Topps Tiles, on LTTV.
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS
Several of the club’s international stars return to the Leicester Tigers line-up after a short turnaround from Saturday’s match.
Nemani Nadolo makes his long-awaited Tigers debut on the left wing, while club captain Tom Youngs returns to lead the side from the front row.
International duo George Ford and Ben Youngs take the reins from half-back, and there’s a place on the bench for development lock George Martin after impressing on his Premiership debut last time out.
See the full match line-ups by clicking here, or scrolling down on this page.
MATCH PREVIEW | MIDWEEK RUGBY AT WELFORD ROAD
Welford Road hosts its first Premiership midweek evening fixture in 12 years when Leicester Tigers meet London Irish this evening.
There’s a very different look to the green, white and red compared to the young side who faced Bath last time out, as director of rugby Geordan Murphy explained.
“We started really well against Exeter and then Bath,” he said. “We’ve shown some good things in part and the reviews have been positive, but you have to take your lessons and get better as a group.
“We’re conscious of managing bodies after five months off playing and then into a busy period. We’re trying to be smart and use the squad, and hopefully we come out the other side in a strong position.”
See all the important facts and stats in our full match preview here, or scroll down on this page.
WELCOME TO MATCHDAY LIVE!
We’re LIVE for Round 16 of the Gallagher Premiership, as Leicester Tigers host London Irish at Welford Road (6.00pm).
Follow all the action as it happens with our Matchday Live coverage, right here on the Tigers App and LeicesterTigers.com.