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Tigers equal best-ever comeback to beat Warriors

Figure image
Leicester Tigers equalled the biggest comeback in their 135-year history to beat Worcester Warriors 29-20 at Sixways on Saturday afternoon.

Tigers trailed their hosts 17-0 after 35 minutes of the Aviva Premiership contest following first-half tries for Wynand Olivier and Matt Cox.
 
But Tigers scored through Graham Kitchener before half-time to give them a lifeline. And, aided by a second yellow card for former Ireland and British & Irish Lions lock Donncha O’Callaghan, Tigers stormed back in the second period.
 
Telusa Veainu scorched over for his fifth Tigers try before Leicester were awarded a penalty try following a series of pick-and-goes close to the line to take the lead for the first time.
 
And as the clocked ticked into added time, Lachlan McCaffrey finished off a lineout drive for a valuable try bonus-point.
 
The 17-point turnaround equalled Tigers’ best-ever comeback, matching their efforts against London Irish at the Stoop in October 1999 when they came back from 20-3 down to win 31-30.
 
Vereniki Goneva and Owen Williams returned to the team and Seremaia Bai started at centre in place of Goldsmiths Player of the Month Matt Smith, who moved to the bench.
 
There was some rotation in the forward pack with Matias Aguero starting in the front row for the first time alongside Greg Bateman and Dan Cole. Jordan Crane returned at No8 and Graham Kitchener made his first start of the season against his former club.

The replacements include international front rows Marcos Ayerza and Tom Youngs, who was set to make his 100th appearance for the club.
 
Worcester, with a stiff wind at their backs, began the game brightly with Chris Pennell’s grubber turning the Tigers defence but beating Ryan Mills and Goneva to go dead in goal.
 
Tom Heathcote punished a Tigers ruck offence in front of the posts with a simple three-pointer.
 
Tigers showed real endeavour when presented with their first opportunity to run the ball. Veainu and Goneva cut an opening for Croft to make ground down the left, his offload put Goneva away but play was called back for a foot in touch.
 
Owen Williams displayed brilliant awareness to slide a kick behind the Warriors defence for Veainu, but the ball bounced just out of his reach and Worcester cleared.
 
Tigers came under huge pressure as Bryce Heem bulldozed  a path in midfield. Tigers did well to regroup and hold up the drive over the line.
 
But Worcester did score a try from the scrum, Wynand Olivier stepping onto Heathcote’s pass to score next to the posts. Heathcote’s conversion gave Worcester a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes.
 
Tigers made a replacement after 21 minutes with Lachlan McCaffrey coming on for Mike Williams, who took a bang on his arm.
 
Tigers went further behind moments later when flanker Matt Cox finished off a series of close-range drives to score next to the posts. Heathcote converted to give Worcester a 17-0 lead.
 
Tom Youngs came on for Bateman, who had received treatment on a couple of occasions.
 
Worcester went down a man 14 minutes before half-time when Donncha O’Callaghan saw yellow for pulling down a maul close to the line.
 
The Tigers maul drove Worcester some 15m into their 22. McCaffrey and Sam Harrison took play on but Crane was pinged for holding on in the tackle.
 
Tigers were now enjoying a period of possession and pressure in the Worcester half, with Youngs at the heart of things. His carrying helped create the field position for Kitchener to barge over for his tenth try in Tigers colours. Williams landed the extras to leave Tigers 17-7 behind at the break.
 
Tigers had Worcester at huge pressure with a maul early in the second period. The drive made a good 20m before it was pulled down by former Ireland international O’Callaghan, who was shown a second yellow card by referee Wayne Barnes and sent from the field.
 
Replacement second row Tevita Cavubati came on for back-rower Sam Betty, as Warriors kept seven in the pack, before prop Joe Rees was replaced by Gareth Milasinovich.
 
Milasinovich’s first act was to pack down for a 5m defensive scrum, which conceded consecutive penalties, prompting Barnes to talk to Warriors captain Phil Dowson and his front row. And Milasinovich was sent to the bin when Warriors conceded a third penalty.
 
It left Worcester with 13 men, but also meant uncontested scrums cancelling their advantage at that facet of the game. This time, Tigers kicked to the corner but gave away a free kick at the lineout to ease the pressure on the Worcester defence.
 
But Tigers made their two-men advantage count with a lovely move off the back of a lineout. Veainu who still had plenty to do when he collected Betham’s pass on the Worcester 10m line but scorched a path to score at the right corner. His fifth try for Tigers, it left the visitors 17-12 behind with 28 minutes left.
 
Milasinovich returned to the action with no further addition to the score, but a resumption in the scrum contest. But it was Warriors who were next to score, Heathcote landing a penalty to move the hosts 20-12 ahead.
 
Worcester were determined in defence and contested every breakdown as they looked to hold on to their eight-point lead.
 
But Tigers had other ideas. Another solid scrum presented Williams with a penalty 40m out, and he landed his kick to leave Tigers 20-15 behind with 12 minutes remaining.
 
And they took the lead for the first time in the contest seven minutes from time. Tigers attacked around the fringes, making the hard yards up to the line and as they crossed referee Barnes spotted a Worcester infringement and awarded the penalty try. He also yellow-carded flanker Matt Cox, leaving Worcester to finish the game with 13 men. Williams’s conversion put Tigers 22-20 ahead.
 
But they won a penalty at the restart but Heathcote’s kick held up on the wind and Thompstone mopped up.
 
Tigers had a last chance to score the bonus-point try with an attacking lineout. Kitchener caught the ball one-handed to set up the drive, and with Matt Smith and Thompstone joining in the drive, it was left to McCaffrey to score his first try for the club. Williams landed the conversion in added time to bring the game to an end.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

WOR 17-7 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

WOR 20-29 LEI

Attendance

10,157

Referee

Wayne Barnes

Worcester Warriors
Worcester Warriors
20

Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
29

Match Stats

Worcester Warriors
Leicester Tigers
Possession
33%
67%
Territory
0%
0%
Penalties Conceded
16
6
Yellow Cards
3
0
Red Cards
1
0
Tackles Won
122/147 83%
77/96 80%
Scrums Won
6/8 75%
3/3 100%
Lineouts Won
9/9 0%
17/17 0%

Player Stats

Worcester Warriors
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Telusa Veainu1T
14Adam Thompstone
13Peter Betham
12Seremaia Bai
11Vereniki Goneva
10Owen Williams3C1P
9Sam Harrison
1Matias Aguero
2Greg Bateman
3Dan Cole
4Ed Slater
5Graham Kitchener1T
6Mike Williams
7Tom Croft
8
16Tom Youngs
17Marcos Ayerza
18Fraser Balmain
19Dom Barrow
20Lachlan McCaffrey1T
21Jono Kitto
22Tommy Bell
23Matt Smith

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV

Peter Betham
13
Peter Betham
Seremaia Bai
12
Seremaia Bai
Vereniki Goneva
11
Vereniki Goneva
Owen Williams
10
Owen Williams
Matias Aguero
1
Matias Aguero
Ed Slater
4
Ed Slater
8

Subs

Marcos Ayerza
17
Marcos Ayerza
Fraser Balmain
18
Fraser Balmain
Dom Barrow
19
Dom Barrow
Lachlan McCaffrey
20
Lachlan McCaffrey
Jono Kitto
21
Jono Kitto
Tommy Bell
22
Tommy Bell

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Chris Pennell
14
Bryce Heem
13
Wynand Olivier
12
Ryan Mills
11
Cooper Vuna
10
Tom Heathcote
9
Jonny Arr
1
Naama Leleimalefaga
2
Niall Annett
3
4
Donncha O'Callaghan
5
6
Matt Cox
7
Sam Betty
8
Phil Dowson

Subs

16
Jaba Bregvadze
17
Val Rapava-Ruskin
18
Gareth Milasinovich
19
Tevita Cavubati
20
Marco Mama
21
22
Ryan Lamb
23
Ben Howard

Preview: Tigers at Worcester

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Richard Cockerill says Leicester Tigers take the "freshest and hungriest" team available to Sixways for the Aviva Premiership Round 6 fixture against Worcester Warriors on Saturday.

Tigers made it four wins out of five league games so far with a 21-11 verdict in a physical battle with Bath Rugby last Saturday but director of rugby Cockerill says there is still room for improvement.
 
“We did some good things against Bath, but I was especially delighted with the attitude, the guts and the determination of the whole team,” Cockerill said.
 
“I think it reaffirmed the spirit the team brought to the game. You saw from the try when we had 13 players in the maul that everyone wanted to be in there trying to win the game. It was a good old-fashioned sleeves-rolled-up day and the team found a way to win.
 
“We adapted to the conditions and to the game, which you have to be able to do in this league. We are still improving and adding to our game, and we know there is still more to come, which is the pleasing thing.”
 
Graham Kitchener and Matias Aguero make their first starts of the season at Sixways, while Jordan Crane and Greg Bateman return to the forward pack, and there are places for Owen Williams and Vereniki Goneva in the backline after injury.
 
“It’s a long season and you have to manage the players and trust the squad, which we’ve done pretty well so far,” added Cockerill. “We’ve picked the freshest and hungriest team to go to Worcester in the knowledge it will be a big contest.”
 
Tigers have a good record at Sixways, though the margin of victory was a single point on the most recent visit in February 2014 when Goneva scored twice.
 
“Worcester are a good side, they have a good coaching team with Dean Ryan and they’ll be well motivated,” said Cockerill. “They’ve already beaten Saints and Newcastle, and they probably should have won at Gloucester, so we know what they bring to the game.”
 
Saturday’s fixture will be only the 24th meeting of the clubs in their history.

Match tickets are still available from the host club.
 
 
posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
4
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI2214085094753455486365
10
Worcester Warriors
Worcester WarriorsWOR227015420597-17747742535
Form Guide
Form
LLLLD
Last Match
Draw with Gloucester Rugby null-null
Past Meeting
Lost 17-18
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WLWLW
Last Match
Beat Wasps 38-31
Past Meeting
Won 18-17

Matchday Live

Worcester Warriors20
Worcester Warriors
Leicester Tigers29
Leicester Tigers
Full Time