Leicester Tigers suffered a 22-9 defeat at London Irish in Round 2 of the Gallagher Premiership season on Sunday.
Hosting their first-ever game at the new Brentford Community Stadium, Irish led 13-3 at half-time, claiming the only try of the opening period after Zack Henry put his name into the history books with the first points at the venue from an early penalty.
Two penalties early in the second half from replacement Joaquin Diaz Bonilla brought the gap back to four points and gave Tigers fresh hope of taking some reward from the afternoon.
But two kicks from Paddy Jackson dragged Irish clear again in the closing quarter and the Ireland international landed the final blow with another three-pointer with the clock on 80 minutes to leave Tigers empty-handed from the trip south.
Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick includes Matt Scott, Jordan Taufua and Nephi Leatigaga in the matchday squad for the first time this season while giving a first start to Cyle Brink in the back row.
Irish were forced into a late change when Seán O'Brien dropped out with a calf strain to be replaced by Jack Cooke in the No6 jersey and it was Tigers, wearing the new blue change kit for the first time, who got the game under way against the background of multi-coloured empty seats in the twilight of a late afternoon kick-off.
The opening six minutes saw four penalties apportioned equally before Henry had the honour of producing the first points at the stadium with a kick from 40 metres.
But the lead lasted just a couple of minutes before Jackson replied from the tee.
Kobus Van Wyk, who would last only 30 minutes before being replaced by Guy Porter, and Freddie Steward both showed their strength in the air and Brink, on his first start, won turnover ball to allow Henry to kick in behind the Irish defence.
Jackson missed a second shot at the posts but, with play still in the Tigers half, loose ball in midfield allowed Blair Cowan to find space in attack for Irish and, when they chipped play down the left wing towards Ollie Hassell-Collins, van Wyk was penalised and sin-binned for slapping the ball into touch.
They dropped ball at the lineout but the Exiles quickly won another penalty and this time Jackson kicked to give the hosts a 6-3 lead on 17 minutes.
Irish looked to turn the Tigers’ short-handed defence as much as possible with kicks into the corners, but Steward showed quick wits to mop up and kick 50 metres upfield from a tight angle.
Brink thought he’d grabbed a second turnover on the floor as Irish played out from a scrum, but referee Karl Dickson thought differently and penalised the South African.
Keeping possession despite strong defence from Tigers, Irish made the breakthrough as Billy Meakes found space to put in fellow centre Curtis Rona to score and Jackson’s conversion made it 13-3 on the half-hour.
Jasper Wiese and Tom Youngs carried strongly as Tigers looked to make inroads upfield, but a turnover had the visitors tracking back until Jackson missed a 30-metre penalty.
The opening half ended with Hanro Liebenberg picking off opposition lineout ball and Porter chasing his own clearing kick all the way up to the Irish tryline before Tom Homer closed out the danger with the hosts 13-3 in front.
Jordan Taufua and Bonilla joined the Tigers line-up for the start of the second half, with Brink and Henry giving way, but a mistake in attack allowed Irish to take play up the other end of the field before Wiese and Taufua combined to win a penalty on the floor.
Taufua and Wiese were in the thick of it at the other end too when Tigers got forward on the ball and, despite losing ball on the floor in the shadow of the posts, won it back with Matt Scott’s work gaining a penalty which Bonilla converted to make it 13-6.
Nephi Leatigaga joined the Tigers front row and got on the ball as Steward and Liebenberg attacked on the left. With the forwards pressuring the line, Tigers gained a penalty and Bonilla added another three points to close the gap to 13-9 with less than half an hour to play.
Full-back Steward made another good catch under pressure and then gained penalty reward as Irish attacked were whistled at the tackle area.
A no-arms tackle brought another penalty in Tigers’ favour, though Harry Potter was a whisker away from making best use of the advantage as Scott’s crossfield almost found the wing.
Penalties started to mount up against the Exiles as the whistle went again at a scrum, but stolen lineout stopped a Tigers attack and Porter had to act smartly to pick up ball back in his own 22 for Wigglesworth to kick clear.
And it was Irish who made best use of their own penalty awards, with Jackson kicking twice from the 10-metre line to push their lead to 10 points at 19-9 with 10 minutes to play.
They had their visitors scrambling back too with a break on the right wing, and Scott was pushed back over his own tryline as he picked off the final pass.
Strong work in upsetting the five-metre set-piece allowed Wiese to get Tigers moving forward and Wigglesworth hammered clear but the visitors were unable to establish a position to create one final chance to take something from the game and ended it back on their own line as Jackson added the final kick.
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FULL-TIME | IRISH 22-9 TIGERS
Irish have come out in top with the final scores London Irish 22-9 Tigers.
JACKSON ADDS AT THE FINAL WHISTLE
Paddy Jackson is able to kick a penalty in the closing moments, which see out the game.
IRISH STEAL THE LINE-OUT
George Nott beats Harry Wells to the ball in the line-out and Irish can keep the ball in the closing minutes.
Tigers force the turnover and Ben White looks to move things forward. Possession switches again and its back with Irish, who kick clear
Steward stumbles with the high ball and Irish sneak some more yards.
WHITE FOR WIGGLESWORTH
Ben White replaces Richard Wigglesworth at 9 for Tigers.
Tigers force the error from the scrum and win the turnover deep in their half. Wigglesworth clears and Tigers gain the yards. Irish retain possession and Steward calls the mark from a Paddy Jackson kick.
NO TRY FOR IRISH
The ball is back in play following a false restart and the scrum sees the ball squeeze out to Irish, who break. Homer makes yards down the line, but Matt Scott is there to intercept.
But the ball is rpped from Taute who falls over his own tryline following momentum from the Irish pressure.
It goes to TMO, and no try is given. We'll have the scrum.
JACKSON EXTENDS LEAD FOR IRISH
Paddy Jackson hits it through the posts as Irish lead 19 points to Tigers 9 with just 10 minutes to go.
BREAK IN PLAY
There's a break in play as both packs go forwards and back following the rolling maul.
Paddy Jackson picks up the ball from the restarting penalty and opts to kick. Irish look to extend their lead.
TIGERS FORCING OPPORTUNITIES
Tigers come back strong following the penalty kick from Jackson and are seeing a lot of the ball in hand. Porter with some great feet, finds Potter but its a huge defensive effort from Irish to force Tigers into touch.
JACKSON KICKS FROM THE TEE
Paddy Jackson is able to ease the pressure on Irish following some heavy Tigers pressure since the restart.
A penalty sees Irish lead Tigers 16-9.
POSSESSION STAYS IN IRISH HALF
Tigers remain in the Irish half, but are nearly caught as Porter has to sweep up with the going from end to end.
Tigers win the turnover, and Wigglesworth kicks clear finding touch. Tigers unfortunate to go back a few phases there.
TIGERS CLOSING GAP ON HOUR MARK
With just over an hour gone, and Tigers scrum dominance has put them in good stead in the second half.
As it does again and Jaco Taute brings it away, a Bonilla chip sees advantage come back for Tigers and the play moves back for Bonilla to find touch for the line-out.
TIGERS REPLACE FRONT ROW
Bower, Youngs and Cole have all made way for Leatigaga, Clare and Heyes.
TIGERS ON THE CHARGE
Tigers show their size in the scrum and the ball falls for Wigglesworth to sweep up, he find Steward whose pass is nicked by the finger tips and the ref calls the knock-on.
We'll have a scrum and Tigers win the penalty.
A no-arms tackle sees Tigers have the advantage and the play is switched across the pitch and Potter almost sweeps up the ball out on the left flank.
The ball is kicked back between the two teams as Steward chases his only kick.
BONILLA KICKS AGAIN 13-9
Bonilla makes no mistake from the tee and the early changes have made a difference as Tigers reduce Irish's leads further.
BALL REMAINS WITH TIGERS
Some strong forward play is as close as Tigers have come to going over for the try.
Its results in a penalty and Bonilla will kick to the posts, as Tigers look to build on a strong start to the second half.
The scrums keep coming as both packs try out their new front rows following a handful of replacements.
Tigers win the penalty, but it doesn't find touch. Wiese comes forward following the kick back and Taufua charges throw but can't break the line.
Freddie Steward finds Liebenberg down the left flank and Tigers are now just five yards out. Wiese picks up and carries further but Irish are holding strong.
BONILLA CLOSES GAP FOR TIGERS
It's Bonilla to kick for Tigers from the right...and its successful as Tigers narrow the gap. Irish 13-6 Tigers.
TIGERS PRESSURE PAYS OFF
Tigers win the penalty from the line-out but aren't finished as they move the ball across the backline, with huge carries from Wiese and Liebenberg.
The penalty finally comes with Matt Scott doing the business on the floor.
TIGERS BACK AND FORTH
A fast start to the second half but some misplaced passes see the play exchange hands before Irish kick for touch.
They make some yards following a kick from Jackson and move forward down Tigers left flank.
Taufua sees an opportunity and wins the penalty pouncing on the loose ball.
TAUFUA AND BONILLA JOIN THE PLAY
Jordan Taufua and Joaquin Diaz Bonilla join the action ahead of the start of the second half.
HALF-TIME | IRISH 13-3 TIGERS
The first 40 minutes comes to a close with Irish on top at the break.
IRISH SURVIVE PRESSURE
Some strong phase play from Tigers comes to nothing as Tigers give away another penalty for not rolling away at the breakdown.
Irish breath for a moment and Karl Dickson blows the half-time whistle.
TIGERS LOOK TO FINISH HALF ON TOP
Tigers look to re-organise themselves as Irish keep the pressure as we head towards the end of the first half,
The midfield have not seen much of the ball, but Wigglesworth looks to change that as he finds Henry before finding the wing Potter. Jaco Taute comes forward and fast hands find Jasper Wiese. A huge hit in the breakdown from Dan Cole keeps the ball moving for Tigers.
VAN WYK MAKES WAY FOR PORTER
Kobus Van Wyk has made way for Guy Porter as the South African pulls up with a groin injury.
IRISH MISS PENALTY KICK
Paddy Jackson misses another attempt at the posts again as Tigers No. 8 Jasper Wiese is punished for a penalty
JACKSON ADDS THE EXTRAS
Paddy Jackson adds the extras from the left hand side as Irish extend their lead to 13 points to 3.
RONA GOES OVER FOR IRISH
Curtis Rona is the man who scores for Irish in their new stadium following some great offloading from the Exiles.
London Irish move the ball though the midfield and release Ben Loader on the wing, but Tigers defence hold strong 15 metres out.
Irish are moving through the phases, but Tigers are a man down as Wigglesworth looks injured and Irish find the gap out wide.
Irish are in for the first try of the game.
THIRD TIME LUCKY WITH THE SCRUM
Both packs guilty of making mistakes in the scrum that Karl Dickson spots but the ball pops out for Irish and Meehan takes the ball away with speed, finding Meakes but Cycle Brink gives away the penalty for a side-entry.
TIGERS MAUL ALMOST PULLED OFF
Tom Youngs nearly managed to sneak around the corner of the Tigers maul but Irish were smart to it, and force the penalty as the ball is unplayable.
A breather for both teams following a fast opening 25.
IRISH TURN TIGERS
Some nice handy work from Meehan and Jackson finds the hands off Meakes who kicks and turns Tigers defence with a deep line-out for Tigers.
Tom Youngs throws it in, but the maul is held up. Wigglesworth kicks clear but Irish come back and Irish are finding some space across the pitch against Tigers 14 men.
TIGERS GAINING YARDS AGAIN
Wigglesworth's boot finds yardage for Tigers after an exchange of posession between both teams. Steward takes the high ball back from the Exiles and the midfield have some ball in hand.
Wigglesworth again kicks a high ball, but Irish come back and win the turnover.
Paddy Jackson kicks the points for Irish as they take the lead for the first time in the game.
Both teams flare up as frustration boils over in the Tigers ranks, as Tigers concede the penalty at the scrum.
Paddy Jackson will look to kick to the posts...
KOBUS IS SHOWN A YELLOW
Tigers wing Kobus Van Wyke is shown a yellow following a clearance deep in Tigers half. Irish get the line out, but it comes to nothing.
IRISH MISS CHANCE TO TAKE THE LEAD
Paddy Jackson misses the kick which was ambitious, but the scores remain level.
Hanro Leibenberg is caught offside following a kick from Wigglesworth as Irish try to come back and Jackson looks to kick at the posts.
TIGERS GAINING YARDS
Tigers keep up the pressure at the breakdown and win the turnover following work from the Tigers pack. But it's turned over again and Ben Meehan keeps things ticking over for Irish.
The first scrum of the games follows the knock-on from the restart and Tigers pack will be hungry to gain yards in the first encounter between the two teams.
Wigglesworth tries to take it out the back, but is put under pressure and forced out for the line-out.
IRISH HIT BACK WITH THREE OF THEIR OWN
Paddy Jackson levels the scores following a poor bit of possession from Tigers. A sloppy pass from Henry allows possession to change hands and are punished.
HENRY KICKS THREE POINTS
Zack Henry takes advantage of the penalty and Tigers lead 0-3.
TIGERS CLEAR THEIR LINES
Tigers manage to clear their lines and have some breathing space as Kobus Van Wyke catches a high ball and Tigers break down the left flank.
Early pressure at the breakdown forces a Tigers penalty and Zack Henry has a chance from the tee about 40 yards out.
KEEPING THE BALL MOVING
Irish keeping the ball alive following a change of penalties, as Tigers defend the line 10 metres out.
TIGERS LINE OUT
Zack Henry finds touch following a penalty in the early seconds from Irish. Tom Youngs throws in but it's a wayward throw and the Exiles steal it back.
And win the penalty.
WE'RE OFF IN ROUND 2
Zack Henry gets underway at the Brentford Community Stadium kicking deep into the Irish half
We're five from KO
Five minutes to go until kick-off.
Both teams have finished the warm-ups and make their way in for those final words.
TEAM CHANGE | Jack Cooke comes in at 6 for Sean O’Brien who has picked up a calf strain
Leicester Tigers XV
Leicester Tigers welcome Matt Scott, Jordan Taufua and Nephi Leatigaga back to the matchday squad for Sunday’s trip to face London Irish in Round 2 of the Gallagher Premiership season.
Ryan Bower and Cyle Brink join the forward pack after appearances as replacements a week ago.
As a ‘first step’ in the new season, Steve Borthwick says the Leicester Tigers performance last Saturday against Gloucester provided a combination of pleasure with a win, satisfaction in improvement and hunger to keep building in all areas going forward.
Earlier in the week, he was quoted: “This is one step, a positive step, and now we have to make sure we work exceptionally hard to improve our performance for next week.”
Ready for Round 2 | KO 30 mins away
Welcome to the Brentford Community Stadium for Leicester Tigers Round 2 Gallagher Premiership fixture against London Irish.
The stadium becomes the 32nd different venue that Tigers have played at in Premiership Rugby history
We’ll be bringing you all the latest in the build-up to kick-off as well as real-time commentary throughout the match.