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Report | Tigers fight back to beat Connacht

Figure image

Leicester Tigers took the maximum five points from a 29-23 victory over Connacht Rugby in the Heineken Champions Cup at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Sunday.

After both sides got off to a winning start in Round 1, it was Tigers who took the honours in Round 2, coming back from an eight-point deficit early in the second half to extend the team’s unbeaten run since the start of the season.

Tries from Nic Dolly and Bryce Hegarty in a spell around the 20-minute mark took Tigers 12-3 in front before a first Connacht try and then the visitors scored a breakaway second to lead by two points at half-time.

They extended that to a 20-12 lead before Freddie Steward and Hosea Saumaki scored in reply as Tigers capitalised on fresh momentum in attack to clinch the bonus point and a decisive lead.

The visitors did land a last-gasp drop goal to ensure they had some consolation in the form of one point from their trip, but it was Tigers who protected their unbeaten run up to Christmas, making it 13 wins in a row in all competitions this season. 

The second-round programme had been hit by a number of cancellations due to Covid and then the postponement of fixtures featuring French teams against UK opposition before Sunday’s lunchtime kick-off.

The changes also meant a call to Scottish referee Mike Adamson in place of the French officials who had been previously appointed and there was more upheaval shortly before kick-off when Tigers were instructed to wear their change shirts of white after a colour clash with their visitors.

So Ben Youngs led out a team in home shorts and socks beneath the change shirt of orange, white and black, and it was half-back partner Freddie Burns who got the game started in his first start at fly-half since his summer return to the club.

The backline also included Freddie Steward and Dan Kelly after sitting out the opening win in Bordeaux, while Nephi Leatigaga and Eli Snyman returned to the forward pack.

Connacht took an early lead with a Jack Carty penalty from 45 metres and indiscipline took its toll on Tigers with a number of promising positions ending with the whistle before referee Adamson also spoke to skipper Youngs about offsides in the backline defence.

As a result, the visitors enjoyed the majority of possession and territory in the opening stages of an hour and the clock reached 16 minutes before meaningful possession from Tigers in attack and it quickly led to the opening try for Dolly, his seventh of the season.

After taking play upfield with a penalty on the left, Youngs picked his way almost to the tryline from the lineout and Tigers were playing with a penalty advantage when the forwards recycled and the final pass found Dolly who dived into the corner.

Burns was off target with the conversion from the touchline and also missed a long-range penalty after the restart when Tommy Reffell won ball on the floor for the first but by no means last time in the afternoon.

A 50-metre break by Matt Scott got the crowd excited and brought a second score after strong work from Jasper Wiese stretched the defence on their own line and Hegarty ran through a gap for his first Tigers score. Burns added the conversion for a 12-3 lead with 23 minutes gone. 

The visitors, though, celebrated their opening score just four minutes later with international centre Bundee aki combining with John Porch through midfield and the wing ran through to dot down next to the right-hand post. Carty added the conversion to cut the gap to just two points.

They threatened again with Cian Prendergast’s offload to Sam Arnold, but Leicester got back quickly and got over the ball to smother the possession and earn a penalty.

Wiese then won a valuable penalty over the ball as Connacht continued to look sharp in the attack.

But it was scrappy ball that brought the try which took them in front for the first time, Carty picking up spilled possession on halfway and having the pace to run away and dive in nest to the posts. He added the extras too as the half-time whistle went with the visitors 17-12 in front.

The mist started to clear as the temperature fell for the start of the second period and Connacht again dominated possession, though they were restricted to playing around the halfway line until a penalty for a deliberate knock-on gave Carty a chance of more points from the tee and he made it 20-12.  

Steve Borthwick changed the front row on 51 minutes and they immediately won a scrum penalty which allowed Tigers to build a period of pressure in attack.

Bryce Hegarty moved to fly-half as Guy Porter replaced Burns in the backline and he prodded play into the left-hand corner where play remained through a series of penalties from a number of attacking scrums. Referee Adamson eventually produced a yellow card for Connacht prop Finlay Bealham after another infringement.

No8 Jarrad Butler made way to allow a replacement prop on for another scrum, with Aki adding his weight to the back row.

Tigers kept up the pressure from the set-piece and this time played out to the right and Dan Kelly cleverly released Steward to score against outnumbered backline opposotion.

Hegarty added the conversion to cut the deficit to a single point on 59 minutes and there was a fresh urgency as Tigers built on the momentum, Reffell winning another breakdown penalty to allow Hegarty to take play back upfield and the hosts made the most of it with a fourth try.

It started with a lineout drive almost up to the tryline on the left and, when Youngs opened up the attack, a gap appeared for Saumaki to run through and score.

Hegarty’s conversion kick made it 26-20 as Tigers claimed 14 points during the yellow card period. 

Carty then over-hit a kick from hand which brought play back into the Connacht half for a Tigers scrum, and when the whistle went again, Hegarty made no mistake with the penalty in stretching the advantage to 29-20 with 10 minutes to go.

A penalty to the right-hand corner gave Connacht fresh hope of a fightback but they lost ball at the lineout as Wiese wrapped up possession. They then had a second – and last – chance in the same position and this time, Carty got into position to strike a drop goal which brought a losing bonus point with the final action of the game. 

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 12-17 CON

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 29-23 CON

Attendance

17,222

Referee

Mike Adamson

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
29

Full Time

Connacht Rugby
Connacht Rugby
23
Leicester Tigers
T
T
C
T
C
T
C
P
KOHTFT
Connacht Rugby
P
T
C
T
C
P
D

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Connacht Rugby
Possession
50%
50%
Territory
44%
56%
Penalties Conceded
10
13
Yellow Cards
0
1
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
127/146 87%
67/82 82%
Scrums Won
14/14 100%
5/5 100%
Lineouts Won
9/10 90%
11/13 85%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Connacht Rugby
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Bryce Hegarty1T2C1P
14Freddie Steward1T
13Matt Scott
12Dan Kelly
11Hosea Saumaki1T
10Freddie Burns1C
9Ben Youngs
1Nephi Leatigaga
2Nic Dolly1T
3Joe Heyes
4Harry Wells
5Eli Snyman
6George Martin
7Tommy Reffell
8Jasper Wiese
16Julian Montoya
17James Whitcombe
18Dan Cole
19Calum Green
20Ollie Chessum
21Marco van Staden
22Jack van Poortvliet
23Guy Porter

Commentary

80

The Tigers are victorious with the score 29-23. The Heineken Star of the Match is Ben Youngs with a solid performance. Thank you to everyone who attended with the attendance at 17,222 and have a Merry Christmas from everyone at Leicester Tigers.

Carty successfully converts a drop goal to get Connacht a losing bonus point. 29-23.

78

Connacht lose it at the line out with a scrum down being awarded to Leicester. 2 minutes to go.

Hegarty converts another penalty for Tigers giving them a 9 point lead going into the last 10 minutes. 29-20

Hegarty converts the try making it 26-20. 14 points have been scored during the yellow card.

Hosea Samaki runs in for the bonus point try for the Tigers! 24-20. 

Hegarty converts the try bringing the score to 19-20 with it all to play for.

Try to the Tigers! Freddie Stewart over the line. 17-20.

55

Number 8 Jarrad Butler has gone off to allow Connacht to bring a prop on bringing Bundee Aki into the scrum.

Finlay Bealham receives a yellow card after successive penalties at the scrum 5m out.

51

Montoya, Whitcombe and Cole replace the front row with Guy Porter coming on in the back line.

Carty converts the penalty. 12-20.

40

Carty kicks off the second half as the Tigers trail 12-17.

The Tigers trail at the end of the first half 12-17 with tries from Dolly and Hegarty. All to play for in the second half.

Carty converts his own try. 12-17.

39

Carty latches on to a ball on the floor from a scrappy piece of play and runs it under the sticks. 12-15.

Jack Carty scores for Connacht. 12-15.

30

Its been an end to end game so far with both teams having good moments. 12-10.

Carty converts the try . 12-10.

John Porch scores for Connacht with a break through the line. 12-8

Burns converts the conversion. 12-3

Bryce Hegarty scores his first try for the Tigers piling through in the middle.

21

Kelly and Scott burst through the defense with a 50m break.

19

Burns misses the conversion.

18

Ben Youngs drove through the line with an advantage being played, which left Nic Dolly by himself on the wing to score his seventh of the season.

Nic Dolly try in the corner for the Tigers!

11

An unpopular penalty given against the Tigers with Connacht having a line out 5m out, but evantually losing the ball on the line.

4 minuets gone and Jack Carty converts a penalty from 45m out for Connaht.

KICK-OFF | Tigers v Connacht

We are under way, as Freddie Burns kicks off. Tigers are playing left to right as we look at it from the dugouts, attacking towards the Mattioli Woods Stand end.  

0

WEATHER REPORT

It’s been cloudy for most of the week, and the forecast this afternoon is for the mist to continue to clear. It's a bit damp in the air and underfoot.

0

TODAY'S OPPOSITION

Connacht Rugby: 15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 John Porch, 13 Sam Arnold, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Jack Carty (c), 9 Kieran Marmion; 1 Matthew Burke, 2 David Heffernan, 3 Finlay Bealham, 4 Ultan Dillane, 5 Niall Murray, 6 Cian Prendergast, 7 Conor Oliver, 8 Jarrad Butler.

Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Tietie Tuimauga, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Leva Fifita, 20 Abraham Papali'i, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Diarmuid Kilgallen

0

HOW TIGERS LINE-UP

STARTING XV

15 Bryce Hegarty [4], 14 Freddie Steward [42], 13 Matt Scott [32], 12 Dan Kelly [28], 11 Hosea Saumaki [4], 10 Freddie Burns [83], 9 Ben Youngs [270]; 1 Nephi Leatigaga [51], 2 Nic Dolly [10], 3 Joe Heyes [82], 4 Harry Wells [135], 5 Eli Snyman [6], 6 George Martin [25], 7 Tommy Reffell [57], 8 Jasper Wiese [25] 

 

REPLACEMENTS

16 Julián Montoya [11], 17 James Whitcombe [9], 18 Dan Cole [274], 19 Calum Green [70], 20 Ollie Chessum [18], 21 Marco van Staden [6], 22 Jack van Poortvliet [30], 23 Guy Porter [27]

0

MATCH PREVIEW | HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP

Leicester Tigers welcome Connacht for the second time this year but the first-ever meeting in Heineken Champions Cup action.

Both teams got off to a winning start in Europe last weekend, with Connacht scoring a bonus-point victory over Stade Francais while Tigers secured an away win against French league leaders Bordeaux-Bègles.

The clubs met in the Challenge Cup knockout stages in March 2021 when Tigers made progress thanks to a 48-32 win, with Charlie Clare, Harry Wells and Guy Porter among the tryscorers in a game played behind closed doors during the Covid-hit part of the season.

 

Ben Youngs, veteran of 75 appearances in European rugby with Tigers and captain of the team this Sunday, said: “Connacht had a really good win over Stade Francais last week and we know they will take confidence from that, but we have to keep going about our business as we have done so far and strive to keep getting better.”

 

Youngs is joined in the backline by Freddie Burns who starts at fly-half for the first time since his return to Tigers in the summer, and there are places for Freddie Steward, Dan Kelly, Nephi Leatigaga and Eli Snyman after missing the trip to Bordeaux. Julián Montoya also joins the 23 and is named among the replacements.

0

WELCOME TO MATCHDAY LIVE!

We’re LIVE from Mattioli Woods Welford Road on this final Sunday before Christmas as Leicester Tigers host Irish visitors Connacht Rugby in the Heineken Champions Cup. Kick-off is at 1.00pm.

If you are doing last-minute shopping trip al club or involved in Christmas festivities elsewhere this afternoon, you can keep up to date with all of the action right here with our Matchday Live service on the Tigers App and website at www.leicestertigers.com.


Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Tiernan O'Halloran
14
John Porch
13
Sammy Arnold
12
Bundee Aki
11
Alex Wootton
10
Jack Carty
9
Kieran Marmion
1
Matthew Burke
2
Dave Heffernan
3
Finlay Bealham
4
Ultan Dillane
5
Niall Murray
6
Cian Prendergast
7
Conor Oliver
8
Jarrad Butler

Subs

16
Shane Delahunt
17
Tietie Tuimauga
18
Jack Aungier
19
Leva Fifita
20
Abraham Papali'i
21
Caolin Blade
22
Conor Fitzgerald
23
Diarmuid Kilgallen

Team News | Tigers side to face Connacht

Steve Borthwick has named the Leicester Tigers matchday squad for Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup against Connacht Rugby.

The Tigers Head Coach has included six players for Sunday’s fixture at Mattioli Woods Welford Road who were not part of the matchday squad for the European opener away to Bordeaux Bégles in France last weekend.

Up front, Nephi Leatigaga and Joe Heyes are the starting props, with Nic Dolly as the hooker.

Julián Montoya, James Whitcombe and Dan Cole are the front-row replacements.

Harry Wells and Eli Snyman combine as the starting locks, with George Martin, Tommy Reffell and Jasper Wiese named in an unchanged back row from the side that defeated Bordeaux.

Calum Green, Ollie Chessum and Marco van Staden are included as the remaining forwards on the Leicester bench.

Freddie Burns starts at fly-half, partnering this week’s skipper Ben Youngs as the starting half-backs, with Dan Kelly and Matt Scott named to start in the Tigers midfield.

In the Tigers back three, Bryce Hegarty retains his place at full-back and Hosea Saumaki is on one wing, with Freddie Steward coming into the starting side on the other.

Jack van Poortvliet and Guy Porter are the backs included on the Leicester bench.

“No matter who is selected, the expectation remains the same that each player delivers a performance our supporters will be proud of on Sunday afternoon”

Steve Borthwick

Previewing Sunday’s fixture, Borthwick said: “I think it will be a formidable challenge, against a team who come to Leicester after a dominant display in the opening round.

“They are a well balanced side, with a tough, hard-working and, equally so, athletic forward pack and then have smart and powerful players throughout the backline.

“Connacht are a team that fights for everything but also play very, very smart rugby.”

Discussing his squad for the club’s first home game of the Champions Cup campaign, Borthwick said: “We have made a handful of changes, which provides some opportunities for players who did not feature in France last weekend as well as continuing to strengthen the depth in this group.

“No matter who is selected, the expectation remains the same that each player delivers a performance our supporters will be proud of on Sunday afternoon.”

STARTING XV
15 Bryce Hegarty [4]
14 Freddie Steward [42]
13 Matt Scott [32]
12 Dan Kelly [28]
11 Hosea Saumaki [4]
10 Freddie Burns [83]
9 Ben Youngs [270]
1 Nephi Leatigaga [51] 
2 Nic Dolly [10]
3 Joe Heyes [82]
4 Harry Wells [135]
5 Eli Snyman [6]
6 George Martin [25]
7 Tommy Reffell [57]
8 Jasper Wiese [25]

REPLACEMENTS
16 Julián Montoya [11]
17 James Whitcombe [9]
18 Dan Cole [274]
19 Calum Green [70]
20 Ollie Chessum [18]
21 Marco van Staden [6]
22 Jack van Poortvliet [30]
23 Guy Porter [27]

Connacht Rugby: 15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 John Porch, 13 Sam Arnold, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Jack Carty (c), 9 Kieran Marmion; 1 Matthew Burke, 2 David Heffernan, 3 Finlay Bealham, 4 Ultan Dillane, 5 Niall Murray, 6 Cian Prendergast, 7 Conor Oliver, 8 Jarrad Butler.

Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Tietie Tuimauga, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Leva Fifita, 20 Abraham Papali'i, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Diarmuid Kilgallen

posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
1
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI440010264381473019
5
Connacht Rugby
Connacht RugbyCON41031181041416143310
Form Guide
Form
LLWLW
Last Match
Beat Newcastle Falcons 27-5
Past Meeting
Won 29-28
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
LLLLL
Last Match
Lost to Leinster Rugby 20-56
Past Meeting
Lost 28-29

Matchday Live

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Leicester Tigers
Connacht Rugby23
Connacht Rugby
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