Leicester Tigers made it two from two in the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup with a 23-16 victory over ASM Clermont Auvergne at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Saturday afternoon.
The match was the third meeting between the two clubs in the calendar year, having met in the Round of 16 during last season’s European campaign, and tenth match-up of all time.
Dan Cole led the Tigers out ahead of his 300th senior appearance for the club - just the 36th player to achieve the milestone in 143 seasons.
Jasper Wiese, who missed the away win over Ospreys in Round 1 of the pool stages, made his 50th Tigers appearance.
The visitors were the first to register points, through the boot of fly-half Anthony Belleau, just six minutes into the game, after Tigers were penalised at the breakdown within the Clermont No10’s range.
Belleau extended the French side’s lead to six points in the 15th minute with a second penalty-goal after the TMO intervened on what was deemed a late tackle bu Julián Montoya on Clermont’s scrum-half Sebastien Bezy.
However, just two minutes later, the home side hit back almost immediately when Jasper Wiese dived over for the first try of the afternoon.
After unsettling the visitors from the re-start, Tigers were rewarded with a line-out on the Clermont 22m line and - after bring down the ball and driving the maul on before, from the back of the pack, Tommy Reffell hit his fellow back-rower and the South African did the rest.
Charlie Atkinson landed the conversion attempt from out wide to see the one side lead by a lone-point approaching the 20 minute mark.
Just five minutes later and Tigers had a second when Julián Montoya crashed over at the back of another well-worked Leicester maul.
Atkinson hit the mark from out wid again and the home side extended the lead to eight after 27 minutes.
Montoya nearly doubled his tally soon after, again at the back of a driving maul from close range, but the visitors managed to hold on - and hold up - the ball over the line.
A yellow card for Clermont replacement forward Thibaud Lanen just four minutes before half-time gave Atkinson a chance to add three from the kicking tee and see the home side take a 17-6 lead into the break.
The visitors cut the Leicester lead to eight, with a penalty-goal for Belleau, in the 49th minute only for Tigers to extend it back out to eleven two minutes later through another successful attempt from Atkinson.
Both sides traded blows without reward on the scoreboard until Atkinson added his fifth - from as many attempts - in the 69th minute, making it five from five in his first starting appearance at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
Five minutes from time, Clermont looked certain to score before Atkinson - with the help of Dan Kelly - held up Alex Newsome over the line in a last-ditch effort that had the Tigers faithful on their feet, cheering their side home.
With the clock in the red, Bezy burrowed over to score for Clermont and Belleau converted to see the score finish at 23-16.