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Match report: Tigers beaten in Belfast

Leicester Tigers were unable to get the Heineken Champions Cup campaign off to a winning start in Belfast as they were beaten 24-10 by Ulster Rugby at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday.

George Ford, who later spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin after a high tackle on Ulster full-back Michael Lowry, provided the only points of the first half, kicking a penalty from in front of the posts on the quarter-hour mark.

Incessant rain made handling difficult, while both defences also forced errors in possession in a first period every bit as close as the scoreline suggested.

But scores in the opening 20 minutes of the second half from Alan O’Connor and Will Addison put Ulster in the driving seat in the opening fixture in Pool 4.

Scrum-half John Cooney kicked both conversions and added a penalty to keep Tigers outside of bonus-point territory and the hosts made sure with a third try from wing Jacob Stockdale.

There was still time for Manu Tuilagi to show his strength on the ball in the final five minutes but that was the end of the scoring as Tigers started a 22nd season of European competition with defeat.

Tigers brought Brendon O’Connor back into the starting line-up with David Denton absent, and gave Jordan Olowofela a first European opportunity with Jonny May sidelined by a shoulder injury.

After 24 hours of rain in Northern Ireland, skies started to clear just ahead of kick-off and it was Ulster who got the game under way, though the handling conditions quickly became apparent with a number of spills early on.

A lineout infringement gave Ulster a first chance to push play into the Tigers half, though Adam Thompstone fielded well from a chip through into the corner and Ben Youngs kicked clear, as he did several more times in the half.

Another penalty put Ulster inside the Tigers 22 and they threatened among the forwards until knocking-on just 10 metres out. Tigers, though, remained in their own half until good work in midfield wrapped up possession and earned put-in at the game’s first scrum.

After an initial re-set, Ulster were penalised going backwards and Ford put their defence under pressure with a towering kick which full-back Michael Lowry spilled under pressure from Kyle Eastmond in front of the Ulsters posts.

From the resulting scrum, referee Pascal Gauzere whistled again and Ford’s penalty kick gave Tigers the first points on the board with 15 minutes played.

Burns almost put half-back partner John Cooney through a gap after the restart but just couldn’t free the ball as he knocked on.

Both sides were using high kicks to gain territory and test defences, but it was good footwork and strength  in midfield by Will Addison that had Tigers in trouble on the 20-minute mark. He put Lowry on a run against an outnumbered defence and, although Ford showed good pace to get back, he was yellow-carded for a high tackle just five metres out.

Ulster used a scrum to establish an attacking platform but when they created space on the right win for Craig Gilroy, Jonah Holmes tackled him into touch as he slid towards the tryline.

Tigers were then penalised near halfway when Tom Youngs thought the ball had been lost in contact, but the defence forced another error and Greg Bateman reacted quickly to take Tigers forward.

After another penalty at the breakdown, Ulster kept the ball in the corner but lost control after a clean catch from back-rower Jordi Murphy.

With Ford in the last minute of his sin-bin, Tigers pack won a scrum penalty near halfway and it was Youngs who kicked down the right touchline as the visitors finally got back into rival territory.

They could not hold ball from the lineout, but big carries from Bateman, Tom Youngs and Harry Wells took play almost up to the tryline before Ulster won a penalty as they contested the breakdown.

Ford returned as play restarted but Ulster lost prop Ross Kane as he was replaced by Marty Moore.

Mike Williams was then penalised near halfway, allowing Ulster to set up another attacking lineout. Although Tigers stood up to up to the set-piece, the referee judged them to have done so illegally. They again repelled the drive, though referee Gauzere gave Ulster a scrum put-in as the ball was caught at the bottom of the ruck just seven metres from the tryline. The greasy ball made control difficult, though, and Ben Youngs managed to put Cooney under enough pressure that Tigers could turnover ball.

Olowofela, Bateman and skipper Youngs made useful advance on the ball but it was Tigers’ turn to lose control and Ulster won the scrap for possession on the floor.

Fly-half Burns left the field seconds before half-time after a tackle on Manu Tuilagi, with Angus Curtis taking over at 10.

With the clock already past 40 minutes, Guy Thompson won a penalty on the floor inside his own half and Ford kicked into the right-hand corner. A snappy delivery at the front of the lineout gave Tigers one more opportunity but, after setting up Ford to go for a drop goal, Best was able to block the kick. Tigers, though, still led 3-0 as the half-time whistle blew.

Burns returned at the start of the second half and Ulster were quickly on the attack with two more penalties into the left-hand side, which finally brought a breakthrough.

After taking possession at the tail of the lineout, lock Alan O’Connor made the final push to dot down.

Scrum-half Cooney kicked the conversion to make it 7-3 and Ulster instrantly burst through for what they thought was an instant second, with lock partner Iain Henderson adding the final touch in the right-hand corner.

The referee, though, wanted to look at a replay and decided a forward pass had been thrown and play restarted on halfway.

It was a big escape for Tigers but also a warning about how quickly a swing in momentum can change a tight game.

Tigers quickly tried to make the most of it with an attacking lineout taking play up the Ulster five-metre line with Tom Youngs steering the pack. Although they were stopped short, play came back for a repeat, only this time the throw was not straight and \Ulster had put-in five metres from their own tryline.

Tatafu Polota-Nau joined the front row on 54 minutes but play was starting to stretch with Williams making a big hit in defence and then Holmes chasing a 50-metre clearing kick from Kyle Eastmond which had Ulster quickly tracking back.

Ulster, though, claimed a precious score on 58 minutes when Addison found his way over on the left after a break by Sean Reidy. Cooney added the kick from the left to stretch the lead to14-3.

Matt Toomua and Sam Harrison were on the field as replacements for Eastmond and Ben Youngs and David Feao joined the front row, though Tigers were struggling to get ball back and build any phases of possession just as the clouds opened again.

Ulster’s full-back Lowry was held up over the tryline in a promising attack on 67 mutes but lay came back for a penalty and Cooney pushed the hosts 17-3 in front with 11 minutes remaining on the clock.

Joe Heyes got a taste of the European action as a replacement for Dan Cole.

A third Ulster try came on 72 minutes with wing Stockdale getting on the end of a quick attack on the left and Cooney maintained his record from the tee as he made it 24-3 with the conversion.

There was some consolation for Tigers, though, when Tuilagi broke the defensive line and ran in from the Ulster 22 to score to the left of the posts and Ford added the extras.

A Tuilagi knock-on under pressure 20 metres from his own line gave Ulster a final push for a bonus-point score but Tigers held them out and even sensed a chance of their own as Olowofela broke out, only to be closed down on the left wing as the hosts closed out victory.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

ULS 0-3 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

ULS 24-10 LEI

Attendance

Not available

Referee

Pascal Gauzère

Match Stats

Ulster Rugby
Leicester Tigers
Possession
56%
44%
Territory
57%
43%
Penalties Conceded
6
14
Yellow Cards
0
1
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
120/136 88%
161/188 86%
Scrums Won
6/6 100%
6/6 100%
Lineouts Won
19/20 95%
8/12 67%

Player Stats

Ulster Rugby
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Jonah Holmes
14Adam Thompstone
13Manu Tuilagi1T
12Kyle Eastmond
11Jordan Olowofela
10George Ford1C1P
9Ben Youngs
1Greg Bateman
2Tom Youngs
3Dan Cole
4Mike Williams
5Harry Wells
6Guy Thompson
7Brendon O'Connor
8Sione Kalamafoni
16Tatafu Polota-Nau
17David Fe'ao
18Joe Heyes
19Sam Lewis
20Tommy Reffell
21Sam Harrison
22Matt Toomua
23Gareth Owen
Ulster Rugby
Ulster Rugby
24

Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
10
Ulster Rugby
T
C
T
C
P
T
C
KOHTFT
Leicester Tigers
P
T
C

Commentary

80

Travelling Fans

Thank you to all the Tigers fans who made the trip with to Belfast this weekend and we hope you have a safe journey home. 

Fighting until the end

Tigers try to work the ball for another score but the ball goes into touch and the referee calls the end of the game and it finishes 24-10 to Ulster. 

80

Messy Ball

Jordan Olowofela makes it into the Ulster 22 before being tackled and Tigers try to work the ball out wide and into open space but the ball is loose and there are players sliding all over the pitch. A kick out to the wing doesn't quite make it and the ball is lost into touch to end the game. 

79

Turnover Tigers!

Ulster go from the lineout but Tigers win a turnover ball at the breakdown. Tigers push the wall out wide and Jordan Olowofela runs the ball back into Ulsters half and then their 22. 

78

Defending Lineouts

Ulster go for the driving maul and Tigers look to be holding them out but they are penalised by the referee and Ulster win a penalty, they go for the corner again. 

Tigers Replacement

Gareth Owen makes his way on to replace Manu Tuilagi. 

77

Messy Ball

The rain is getting heavier by the second hear in Belfast and the ball is loose as Tigers look to defend in their own half from the restart. Tigers pass the ball but Ulster win a penalty and kick for the corner. 

Tigers Conversion

George Ford adds the conversion for Tigers to make it 24-10 after 76 minutes. 

Tigers Try

Tigers work the ball into Ulster's 22 and there's a space for George Ford to give Manu the ball who breaks through to run over the tryline. 

74

Tigers Work

Ulster win the restart but the kick stays in field so Tigers look to work the ball into the Ulster half and up to the Ulster 22. 

Ulster Conversion

Ulster add the conversion through John Cooney to extend Ulster's lead to 24-3 after 73 minutes. 

Ulster Try

Ulster are able to work the ball out to the wing for Jacob Stockdale to run the ball over the tryline for Ulster's third try of the match. 

71

Ulster Ball

Ulster win the ball and drive the maul before working the phases and pushing wide. 

70

Quick Ball

Tigers look to go quick from the lineout and drive up the ball into Ulster's 22 but Ulster win a turnover and run the ball up the field before chipping ahead. Jordan recovers the ball and kicks to touch. 

69

Restart to Lineout

Ulster are best at the restart and clear to touch near their own 10 metre line. 

Tigers Replacement

Dan Cole is replaced by Joe Heyes. 

Ulster Penalty

Ulster convert the penalty through John Cooney to make it 17-3 after 67 minutes. 

67

Nearly another for Ulster

Ulster disrupt the lineout and it looks like they've worked the ball into the corner to score but the ball is held up and the referee goes back for a penalty. Ulster point to the posts and kick for the penalty. 

66

Quick Lineout

Ulster go quick at the lineout and work the ball wide but Tigers defence holds strong. Ulster chip ahead and the ball bounces into touch in Tigers 22. 

64

Tigers Work

Tigers work the ball back into Ulster's half with some brilliant handling in the backline but a loose ball is chipped ahead by Ulster. Tigers work back to collect the ball and clear to touch. 

Tigers Replacement

David Feao makes his way onto the pitch to replace Greg Bateman. 

61

More side to side

The ball is moving side to side as much as the ball is changing hands so far, both sides seem to be trying to break the defence but there's a high ball and Ulster think they've made a break but are called back for a  forward pass for a Tigers scrum. 

60

Restart

Ulster make the best of the restart and kick ahead to get into touch outside Tigers 22. 

Tigers Replacement

Tigers make another replacement and it is Tommy Reffell on for Brendon O'Connor. 

Ulster Conversion

Ulster add the conversion through John Cooney to make it 14-3 after 59 minutes. 

Ulster Try

Ulster build the phases from the lineout and there's a break into Tigers 22 before they push out wide and Will Addison scores in the corner. 

Tigers Replacements

Sam Harrison and Matt Toomua are on the pitch replacing Ben Youngs and Kyle Eastmond. 

57

Quick Ball

Tigers look to make a break and Ben Youngs go quick from the ruck but the ball goes loose and Ulster chip ahead into Tigers half. George Ford is there quickest and clears to touch but Ulster get the lineout just outside Tigers  22. 

56

End to End

Ulster get into Tigers 22 but a chip ahead has the play back in Ulster's 22, Jonah Holmes chases but Ulster recover the ball. Each team is making breaks and testing chip aheads as Tigers attack in the Ulster half. 

Tigers Replacement

Tatafu Polota-Nau makes his way onto the pitch to replace Tom Youngs. 

53

Side to Side

Ulster disrupt the lineout and try to push wide with a chip across the pitch and Jonah Holmes tries to collect it but is called for a knock-on and it's Ulster's scrum on the half-way. 

52

Ulster Scrum

Ulster run the ball from the scrum and kick for touch but only get up between their 10 metre and the 22. 

51

Lineout to Scrum

Tigers are penalised for the throw not being straight in the lineout and Ulster call for the scrum on their own 5 metre line. 

50

Tigers Lineout

Tigers drive the lineout and get the ball out wide but can't use the advantage awarded by the referee. We are called back and go for the lineout on the 5 metre line. 

48

Quick Ball

Tigers go quick with the ball from the scrum and get abreak into the Ulster 22 but a chip ahead gives Ulster the ball. Ulster return the kick and Tigers attack, winning a penalty at the breakdown and Ford goes for the corner. 

45

Ulster nearly score again

Ulster are quick from the kick-off and look to have chipped ahead to score in the corner but before the conversion can be awarded the TMO gets the referee to check and there is a forward pass so it's Tigers scrum on half-way. 

Ulster Conversion

Ulster add the conversion through John Cooney to make it 7-3 after 43 minutes. 

Ulster Try

Ulster go for another driving maul from the lineout but break away to run at the Tigers tryline before Alan O'Connor pushes his way over for the first try of the match. 

41

Ulster Driving Maul

Ulster go for the driving maul and it looks like Sione Kalamafoni has stolen the ball but the referee calls back for a penalty and Ulster go for a lineout in the corner. 

41

Early Penalty

Tigers work the ball well after Ulster kick clear but Tigers are penalised in the breakdown, Ulster kick for the lineout on Tigers 22. 

Second Half Kick-Off

Tigers are out first, followed by Ulster for the second-half and it's Fordy to kick it off. 

That's Half-Time

George Ford kick's the ball into touch for half-time and Tigers hold on to the 3-0 lead. 

40

Going for the drop goal

Tigers work the ball well from the lineout and work well into the Ulster 22, Ben Youngs passes to George Ford for the drop goal but it is charged down. Manu is quickest to the ball and secures it for Ford to clear it to touch for half-time. 

39

Nearly Half-Time

Ulster look to run the ball from the scrum despite the clock going red and get into Tigers half but Guy Thompson is over the ball at the breakdown to win a penalty. Despite being over 40 George Ford kicks for the lineout with a beautiful kick to the corner.

39

Good Work

Tigers create some great lines off the lineout to test the Ulster attack but the ball is lost forward in a tackle and it's Ulster's scrum on the half-way. 

38

Tigers win the scrum

Ulster get the ball at the scrum but it is loose and Tigers win the ball. They run it wide and Jordan Olowofela steps to make even more ground. The ball is chipped ahead and Ulster return the kick but George Ford offloads to Tom Youngs who runs up the wing, yes Tom Youngs, but as the ball is worked back inside it is loose and Ulster kick to touch on the half-way for a Tigers lineout. 

36

Ulster Ball

Ulster look to create another driving maul but it goes to ground and the referee calls for a Ulster scrum. 

35

Ulster go again

Ulster create the  driving maul and looks like Tigers have won the ball back but the referee awards a penalty to Ulster and they go for another lineout. 

34

Ulster go for the corner

Ulster win a penalty for a tackle off he ball and kick to the corner. 

34

Driving Maul

Ulster win the ball and look to push the driving maul, they kick ahead and it's a battle in the air but Ulster have it and are back in attack in the Tigers half. 

32

Ford Returns

Just as Ulster kick for the lineout George Ford returns from the sin-bin. 

32

Loose Ball

It's loose ball in the lineout and Ulster win the ball, they kick ahead but Adam Thompstone catches it and Tigers are back in attack. Tigers are building phases and working into the Ulster 5 metres and up to the tryline but are penalised at the breakdown. 

30

Tigers Scrum

Tigers win a penalty from the scrum on the half-way and Ben Youngs steps in for George Ford to kick to touch for a lineout in Ulster's 22. 

29

Ulster Attack

Ulster are working the ball across the pitch and testing Tigers defence but Tigers win a scrum at the breakdown after a loose ball from Ulster. 

28

Winning Ball

Ulster win the lineout and look to drive the ball but Tigers are able to turn the ball over and kick to touch. 

26

Side to Side

Ulster look to take advantage of the yellow card and again ship the ball wide, chipping ahead into the Tigers 22, Tigers recover the ball but are penalised at the breakdown and Ulster kick for the lineout. 

25

Manic Minute

Ulster win the lineout ball, creating the driving maul but pass out wide to test Tigers defence. Tigers turnover the ball in a tackle and Greg Bateman finds space to run the ball back at Ulster but a loose ball and Ben Youngs has to clear the lines with a kick to touch. 

24

Quick Lineout

Tigers look to go quick at the lineout and clear ahead but Ulster run the ball back and win the penalty at the breakdown. They kick for touch and get the lineout just inside the Tigers 22. 

23

Scrum, Scrum

We have a few reset scrums before Ulster get a scrum where they push the ball out wide, Craig Gilroy looks to dot down in the corner but the referee checks the tackle from Jonah Holmes and he is pushed into touch for a Tigers lineout. 

Yellow Card

Tigers George Ford is shown a yellow card for a high tackle and Ulster have a scrum on Tigers 5 metre line. 

20

Ulster Attack

Ulster chip ahead from the scrum but Jordan Olowofela collects and returns the kick but Ulster break through the line and Tigers are only able to bring them down on the 5 metre line where Manu wins turnover but the referee blows the whistle for a penalty. 

18

End to End Kicking

Ulster kick for touch but are unable to find it, instead find Jonah Holmes, passing to George Ford who kicks for touch but Ulster go quickly and win a scrum for a knock-on. 

17

Good Work Jordan

Tigers kick ahead from the scrum and Jordan Olowofela reads the kick  to get up and under it but there is a penalty at the breakdown. 

15

Messy Restart

It's messy at the restart with loose ball from both sides, Ulster look to run the ball but there's a knock-on from Ulster and Tigers for another Tigers scrum. 

Tigers Penalty

Tigers with the first points of the match through George Ford, 0-3 after 14 minutes. 

13

Scrum Penalty

It's a messy scrum and the ball is out with Ulster collecting it and running up the field but the referee calls them back and it's a penalty for Tigers, George Ford points to the posts. 

12

Tigers Attack

Tigers look to work the ball into the Ulster 22, George Ford kicks high and Kyle Eastmond chases with enough pressure on Ulster's Michael Lowry for a knock-on and a Tigers scrum. 

11

Scrum Penalty

Tigers win the penalty at the first scrum of the game and kick for a lineout on Ulster's 10 metre line. 

9

Tigers Power

Ulster have a better lineout and get the ball out into the middle of the pitch but Kyle Eastmond and Guy Thompson hold up the Ulster centre to win the first scrum of the game. 

8

Scrappy Ball

It's a scrappy lineout and the phases that follow are jsut as scrappy but Ulster with the ball and attacking the Tigers 22 but there's a knock-on from Ulster and Tigers clear the ball for a lineout back near the 10 metre line. 

6

Lineout Work

Ulster have the lineout but Tigers secure the ball and look for territory but the kick stays in play and as Ulster attack they win a penalty at the breakdown. They kick for touch and get a lineout in Tigers 22. 

4

Tigers Defence

It's now a test for the Tigers defence and Ulster attack from the lineout, building phases into Tigers 22 but a chip into the corner is collected by Adam Thompstone and kicked clear by Ben Youngs for another Ulster lineout. 

3

Ulster Lineout

Ulster look to control the driving maul from the lineout and win a penalty, they kick for a lineout on the half-way line. 

2

Testing the Defence

Tigers look to build phases off the lineout but the ball looks wet and there are some careful passes exchanged but Tigers are pushed into touch, Ulster lineout. 

1

Good Start

Tigers with the kick-off make their way up the pitch, Jordan Olowofela collects the ball on the half way, chips ahead. Ulster can only clear outside their 22 for a Tigers lineout

Here we go

The teams run out together and it's Ulster to kick-off and get us under way. 

0

Nearly Kick-Off

The teams have finished and are back in the changing rooms so only minutes away from kick-off here in Belfast!

0

Crofty on Europe

LTTV caught up with Tom Croft about playing in Europe as part of the club's touring party to Belfast.

Watch the chat here

0

Quick Questions with Geordan

Tigers coach Geordan Murphy answered some quick questions about European rugby ahead of today's game and you can watch here

0

Welcome to Belfast

Hello and welcome to Belfast as Tigers visit Ulster Rugby in the first round of the Heineken Champions Cup. 


Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Michael Lowry
14
Craig Gilroy
13
Will Addison
12
Stuart McCloskey
11
Jacob Stockdale
10
Billy Burns
9
John Cooney
1
Andrew Warwick
2
Rory Best
3
Ross Kane
4
Alan O'Connor
5
Iain Henderson
6
Marcell Coetzee
7
Jordi Murphy
8
Nick Timoney

Subs

16
Adam McBurney
17
Eric O'Sullivan
18
Marty Moore
19
Kieran Treadwell
20
Sean Reidy
21
David Shanahan
22
Angus Curtis
23
Angus Kernohan

Team news: Tigers away to Ulster Rugby

Leicester Tigers welcome international duo Matt Toomua and Tatafu Polota-Nau back into the matchday squad for the team’s opening game in the Heineken Champions Cup, away to Ulster Rugby in Belfast on Saturday.

Toomua and Polota-Nau return after international duty with Australia and are included among the replacements as Tigers interim head coach Geordan Murphy makes just two changes to the starting line-up.

Jonny May misses out with the shoulder injury suffered in the win over Northampton Saints at Twickenham last Saturday, giving Jordan Olowofela an opportunity on the wing, and there is a change in the forward pack where David Denton is ruled out and Brendon O’Connor returns.

Murphy said: “We’ve picked up a few bumps and bruises but we’re also starting to get a few other players back from injury. Jonny May got a bang on the shoulder last week and there is no major damage so it will certainly not be a long-term injury, but injuries also give opportunities to others to come in and make a claim to the shirt.

“Europe is always tough, Ulster have a very good record at home and we’ve not done well there in the past, but the guys want to test themselves at the top table and we’re looking forward to it.”

Gareth Owen returns to the matchday 23 after missing the win over Saints, while Wales Under-20s captain Tommy Reffell is also included among the replacements.

 

Tigers return to home turf next Friday evening in Round 2 when the Scarlets are the visitors to Welford Road. Match tickets are available now. Book in person, by phoning 0116 319 8888 (option 2) or online at www.leicestertigers.co.uk

Leicester Tigers (v Ulster Rugby, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, Saturday 5.30pm)

15 Jonah Holmes
14 Adam Thompstone
13 Manu Tuilagi
12 Kyle Eastmond
11 Jordan Olowofela
10 George Ford
9 Ben Youngs
1 Greg Bateman
2 Tom Youngs (c)
3 Dan Cole
4 Mike Williams
5 Harry Wells
6 Guy Thompson
7 Brendon O’Connor
8 Sione Kalamafoni

Replacements

16 Tatafu Polota-Nau
17 David Feao
18 Joe Heyes
19 Sam Lewis
20 Tommy Reffell
21 Sam Harrison
22 Matt Toomua
23 Gareth Owen

Ulster Rugby: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Will Addison, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney; 1 Andy Warwick, 2 Rory Best (c), 3 Ross Kane, 4 Alan O'Connor, 5 Iain Henderson, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Jordi Murphy, 8 Nick Timoney. Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Eric O'Sullivan, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Angus Curtis, 23 Angus Kernohan



 

Champions Cup preview: Ulster versus Tigers

Leicester Tigers open a 22nd season of European competition with a trip to Belfast to face Ulster Rugby on Saturday.

Two-time European champions Tigers reached 150 appearances in Europe’s top club competition during last season and are the only club to qualify in every year of English participation.

Those 150 games have brought 94 victories alongside 52 defeats and four draws. Only Munster, Leinster and Toulouse have played more games in the tournament’s history.

Tigers, though, have never won at Ulster’s Kingspan Stadium home, losing there on all four previous trips since 2003/04. This is the third trip in the last six seasons and Tigers go to Belfast without an away win in the tournament since a visit to Munster in December 2015.

Geordan Murphy, who is Tigers’ record appearance-holder in European rugby with 74 games including four finals, takes charge of the team for the first time in the competition as interim head coach and said: “We’ve won our last two games, but we probably weren’t polished in either game.

“The Sale game particularly was scrappy and we didn’t play any good rugby, but it was a win. There were some really pleasing things from the Saints game at Twickenham and we took our opportunities well, which is very important in conditions like we had there.

 “It’s a tough start against Ulster, they have a quality squad, they have a good record against us there and it is a difficult place to go.

“The intensity goes up every time in Europe and it certainly doesn’t get any easier but the guys want to test themselves at the top table.”

In team news announced on Friday, Brendon O’Connor returns to the Tigers line-up and there are places in the matchday 23 for Matt Toomua and Tatafu Polota-Nau after international duty and Gareth Owen on his recovery from injury. Jonny May and David Denton miss out after suffering knocks in the win over Northampton last weekend.

Ulster, who lost at home to Connacht on league duties last weekend, include skipper Rory Best, former Sale Sharks centre Will Addison and Billy Burns, younger brother of former Tigers fly-half Freddie.

Kick-off is at 5.30pm and there is live coverage on BT Sport.

French official Pascal Gauzère is the match referee on Saturday.

Tigers will wear the club’s traditional red, white and green colours in Belfast and in all six pool fixtures in the Champions Cup.

If you are not attending the game or are unable to watch on TV, you can keep up to date with all of the action using the Tigers Matchday Live service on the club website, mobile website and official app. Or follow the club’s social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Supporters travelling to Belfast can send us their matchday photos using the Tiger Hunt section of the official club app and social media pages. Click here for more details.

Tigers return to Welford Road in Round 2 next Friday when the Scarlets are the visitors (7.45pm). Match tickets are available now. Book in person at Welford Road, phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2) or online.

posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
2
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI21015551466105
3
Ulster Rugby
Ulster RugbyULS21013654-1856004

Leicester Tigers open a 22nd season of European competition with a trip to Belfast to face Ulster Rugby on Saturday.

Two-time European champions Tigers reached 150 appearances in Europe’s top club competition during last season and are the only club to qualify in every year of English participation.

Those 150 games have brought 94 victories alongside 52 defeats and four draws. Only Munster, Leinster and Toulouse have played more games in the tournament’s history.

Tigers, though, have never won at Ulster’s Kingspan Stadium home, losing there on all four previous trips since 2003/04. This is the third trip in the last six seasons and Tigers go to Belfast without an away win in the tournament since a visit to Munster in December 2015.

Geordan Murphy, who is Tigers’ record appearance-holder in European rugby with 74 games including four finals, takes charge of the team for the first time in the competition as interim head coach and said: “We’ve won our last two games, but we probably weren’t polished in either game.

“The Sale game particularly was scrappy and we didn’t play any good rugby, but it was a win. There were some really pleasing things from the Saints game at Twickenham and we took our opportunities well, which is very important in conditions like we had there.

 “It’s a tough start against Ulster, they have a quality squad, they have a good record against us there and it is a difficult place to go.

“The intensity goes up every time in Europe and it certainly doesn’t get any easier but the guys want to test themselves at the top table.”

In team news announced on Friday, Brendon O’Connor returns to the Tigers line-up and there are places in the matchday 23 for Matt Toomua and Tatafu Polota-Nau after international duty and Gareth Owen on his recovery from injury. Jonny May and David Denton miss out after suffering knocks in the win over Northampton last weekend.

Ulster, who lost at home to Connacht on league duties last weekend, include skipper Rory Best, former Sale Sharks centre Will Addison and Billy Burns, younger brother of former Tigers fly-half Freddie.

Kick-off is at 5.30pm and there is live coverage on BT Sport.

French official Pascal Gauzère is the match referee on Saturday.

Tigers will wear the club’s traditional red, white and green colours in Belfast and in all six pool fixtures in the Champions Cup.

If you are not attending the game or are unable to watch on TV, you can keep up to date with all of the action using the Tigers Matchday Live service on the club website, mobile website and official app. Or follow the club’s social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Supporters travelling to Belfast can send us their matchday photos using the Tiger Hunt section of the official club app and social media pages. Click here for more details.

Tigers return to Welford Road in Round 2 next Friday when the Scarlets are the visitors (7.45pm). Match tickets are available now. Book in person at Welford Road, phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2) or online.

Form Guide
Ulster Rugby
Form
WWWLW
Last Match
Beat Tigers 24-10
Past Meeting
Won 24-10
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Leicester Tigers
Form
LWWLW
Last Match
Beat Scarlets 45-27
Past Meeting
Lost 10-24

Matchday Live

Ulster Rugby24
Ulster Rugby
Leicester Tigers10
Leicester Tigers
Full Time