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Report | Tigers win back on home turf

Leicester Tigers enjoyed a 35-28 victory against the Dragons in a pre-season fixture on their return to Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Saturday.

Two weeks out from the opening game of the league season – at home to Exeter Chiefs on September 18 – head coach Steve Borthwick named an extended matchday squad which included seven new faces since the last home outing at the start of June.

The crowd cheered first-half tries from Freddie Steward, Nic Dolly and Jack van Poortvliet as Tigers led 21-0 at the break, looking to build on victory over Jersey Reds in the pre-season opener a week ago.

But Dragons began the second half with scores from Richard Hibbard and Sam Davies as both sets of coaches rotated gametime around their squads and, despite a second score from Steward, they levelled the scores with two more in the final quarter before Nemani Nadolo dived in for the last of the day’s nine tries.

Hanro Liebenberg, Dan Kelly and Steward were among the players given a first run of the summer while Dragons, who begin their season a week later than Tigers and were having their first warm-up game, included on-loan Jordan Olowofela and fellow Tigers academy graduiate Joe Maksymiw among their matchday 29 selected by boss Dean Ryan.

Tigers, wearing a change kit of white, orange and black on a sunny afternoon, got the game started attacking the Beehive Money Stand with supporters on three sides following the relaxation of Covid regulations earlier this summer.

The first real opening of the afternoon came when Hosea Saumaki kicked ahead on the left but the bounce beat him and Dragons soon showed their pace on a counter-attack which took full-back Jordan Williams almost to the tryline. Tommy Reffell, though, backed up the scrambling defence and snuffed out the threat as he got over the ball in front of the posts.

The breakthrough came after a break by scrum-half van Poortvliet took Tigers forward again and when he then wriggled free in attack moments later, he had support with him which allowed Freddie Burns to find Steward who scored on the right. The fly-half added a perfect conversion for a seven-point lead on 20 minutes.

Harry Potter almost instantly added a second and, although Tigers lost possession in the try zone, it was the replacement wing who reacted quickest to win a penalty as he contested possession.

This time the forwards kept ball and hooker Dolly was able to find the tryline. Burns added a second kick as Tigers doubled their advantage.

They had a fortunate break from the restart as Dragons attacked down the left, only to be called for an accidental offside as space opened up, and response came quickly as van Poortvliet picked his way to the tryline close to the same touchline. A third successful kick from Burns made it 21-0 and it stayed that way up to half-time as Tigers successfully defended a Dragons set-piece just five metres out.

Eli Snyman joined the Tigers pack for the start of the second half, with the front row of Tom Youngs, Francois van Wyk and Dan Cole soon joining him.

By that stage, though, Dragons had claimed a try from hooker Hibbard, converted by Sam Davies to trail 21-7.

Dan Kelly thought he’d supplied a fourth try for Tigers, only to be called back for an offence in the build-up, and it was the visitors who celebrated moments later when fly-half Davies intercepted near halfway to run clear and score before adding a conversion to cut the score to 21-14.

Steward broke clear on the left wing to get Tigers rolling again with his second try of the day and Burns added the kick for a 28-14 lead.

Dragons replacement scrum-half Lewis Jones then finished an enterprising attack with their third try and quickly put Olowofela in to score the fourth which the conversion from Davies levelling the scores.

Juan Pablo Socino showed his strength on the ball in fending off a trio of defenders as Tigers looked to get forward again and when the hosts were awarded as penalty, the set-piece ball gained on the right was finally finished in the left-hand corner by Nemani Nadolo. The touchline conversion from Dan Lancaster took the lead to a decisive seven points.

Tigers are back on home ground on Thursday for a second Anglo-Welsh clash with the arrival of the Scarlets in the final warm-up game ahead of the new season. Kick-off is at 7.00pm and match tickets are available now. Entry is included in season tickets.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 21-0 DRA

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 35-28 DRA


Not available


Jack Makepeace

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers

Full Time

Leicester Tigers


Full-time | Tigers 35-28 Dragons

A home win for Steve Borthwick's men in the second game of the pre-season period.

Half-time | Tigers 21-0 Dragons

Strong first half for Tigers with tries from Freddie Steward, Nic Dolly and Jack van Poortvliet.

Kick off

We are under way in the first home game of the pre-season programme.


We're back at Mattioli Woods Welford Roadg

Supporters can follow updates from the touchlines on Tigers social media throughout the afternoon, with reaction to follow on social media, app and website. Please note there is no Matchday Live service for the pre-season fixtures.

Coverage is also available via free livestream on the club website.

Preview | Tigers host the Dragons

The pre-season programme began with an outing against Jersey Reds
The pre-season programme began with an outing against Jersey Reds

Leicester Tigers run out on home ground for the first time in three months in a pre-season fixture against the Dragons on Saturday (2.00pm).

Tigers opened the summer programme with a trip to Jersey Reds last Friday and now host the Dragons and then the Scarlets on Thursday (7.00pm) in an Anglo-Welsh double-header at Mattioli Woods Welford Road before the new season begins against Exeter Chiefs on September 18.

While Tigers scored three tries in a 17-7 verdict against Jersey, this is the Dragons’ opening game of their pre-season programme as they build up to their own league kick-off at the end of the month.

Director of rugby Dean Ryan is, of course, well known in Premiership Rugby as both player and coach, while forwards coach Mefin Davies was a popular hooker with Tigers as well as captain of Wales in his playing days. There are further Leicester links at Dragons this season with Jonah Holmes, Greg Bateman and Tigers academy graduate Joe Maksymiw joined in the senior squad by wing Jordan Olowofela who has joined the Newport-based club on loan. Maksymiw and Olowofela are both listed to start this weekend.

Looking ahead to the game, Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick said: “We want to use the pre-season period to give gametime to the players, to assess where we are, what we need to work on and where we can develop further.

“We trained very hard during our week in Jersey and the trip also allowed us to spend some time together which has been challenging over the last 18 months. We had lots of new players playing their first game and two players in their first game of senior men’s rugby.

“It was fantastic to have that opportunity and break new ground for those players.”

With two pre-season fixtures scheduled inside a week, the team will play in the new 2021/22 change kit of white, black and orange on Saturday and wear the new home kit for the game against the Scarlets on Thursday evening.

Three sides of Mattioli Woods Welford Road will be open for each pre-season games, with free entry for season ticket holders. Season ticket holders in the Breedon Stand and Terrace can relocate elsewhere by contacting the ticket office as this stand is unavailable at this point.

Match tickets are still available for all other supporters. Book online or phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2). Tickets are also available now for the opening games in the new season, including the Round One match against Exeter Chiefs, with a limited number of early bird tickets at just £15 adults, £5 juniors.

For more details about matchday and some of the changes for the new season, see our Matchday Guide.

There is no Matchday Live service this weekend but there are updates on the club social media throughout the day and exclusive free livestream is available on the Tigers website.

Form Guide
Last Match
Lost to Leinster Rugby 14-23
Past Meeting
Won 35-28
Last Match
Past Meeting
Last Match
Lost to Leicester Tigers 28-35
Past Meeting
Lost 28-35