Leicester Tigers ran in seven tries in a 47-12 victory over Benetton Treviso in a pre-season fixture at Welford Road on Friday evening.
Scores from Logovi’i Mulipola, George McGuigan, Matt Smith and Dominic Ryan gave Tigers a 26-12 lead at half-time in a keen contest, with Ellis Genge and a double from Ben White after the break allowing Matt O’Connor’s team to back up on the win over Ospreys in their pre-season opener a week earlier.
Head coach O’Connor included a batch of the Tigers’ summer signings in his extended squad, with Ryan, Jonah Holmes, Joe Ford, Sione Kalamafoni and Nick Malouf all given the opportunity to run out at Welford Road for the first time.
Matt Toomua, who has not played since suffering a knee injury in just his second game for the club against Racing 92 last October, made a welcome return, with Mulipola and Tom Brady also back from injury.
The visitors included Tigers academy graduate Tiziano Pasquali who was called up to Italy’s senior squad for the first time during the summer.
Tigers had to wait until the eighth minute to build some phases of possession and made the breakthrough on the quarter-hour thanks to Mulipola, quickly followed by a try from front-row colleague McGuigan.
Some smart handling along the backline threatened a score on the right, with Charlie Thacker taking play close to the line before Mulipola forced his way over a couple of phases later. Ford added the extras for a 7-0 lead.
From the restart Tigers won a penalty near halfway and, after Ford had kicked to the left, McGuigan steered the drive over the line, acknowledging the role of his team-mates as he emerged from the bottom of the heap.
Treviso responded with a try from centre Ignacio Brex, winning the race to a chip in behind the Tigers defence in a smart move on the right. International fly-half Tommaso Allan put the conversion narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
But Tigers provided an immediate reply as Ford made full use of a penalty advantage to chip over the Italian defence. Brady raced in to claim possession and produced an instant pass to Smith, on hand to force his way over. Ford landed the conversion to make it 19-5 with half an hour gone.
The see-saw contest continued with a second try for Treviso, courtesy of lock Federico Ruzza to the right of the posts, and this time Allan made no mistake with the kick to cut the deficit to a single score.
It was the home side’s turn to be tested in defence, but Tigers stood up well in the forwards and made their hits out wide to keep their rivals out.
Club captain Tom Youngs earned a big reception from the home crowd when he entered the action on 38 minutes, replacing McGuigan, and he almost added the fourth try after a rampaging run by Kalamafoni and a shark break from Sam Harrison.
When Youngs took play up to the line, Tigers recycled quickly and Ryan this time was on hand to dot down. Ford added the kick in the final action of the half as Tigers stretched the lead to 26-12.
Toomua made his playing return at the start of the second half as one of a number of changes for Tigers, with Genge, Telusa Veainu and Dom Barrow among the others as the players emerged to rainfall.
Treviso, though, enjoyed the bulk of possession in the opening stages before Tigers started to regain momentum.
A series of carries close to the line, including two each for Genge and Fred Tuilagi, almost broke Treviso resistance but, when Holmes just ran out of space on the left, the home side regained possession and this time Genge carried over the line with support from the forward pack. Ford sent over his fourth conversion to make it 33-12 on the hour mark.
Tuilagi was again prominent in the build-up to the sixth score, with Ben Betts also carrying strongly before White darted off the back of a ruck to dot down. Ford landed the conversion from wide on the left before making way for replacement Tom Hardwick with Tigers 40-12 ahead.
And White added his second from another close-range dart with just two minutes remaining, allowing Toomua to claim his first points for the club with the conversion.
Tigers resume pre-season action with another home fixture against the Ospreys next Friday (August 25) before the Aviva Premiership opener against Bath Rugby at Welford Road on Sunday, September 3. Match tickets are on general sale now. Book in person at Welford Road, phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2) (open 9.00am-5.00pm daily and up to kick-off on Friday). Or book online any time.
Full-time at Welford Road
That's full-time here at Welford Road and seven tries for Tigers to secure a 47-12 win against visitors Benetton Treviso in the second pre-season fixture of the new season.
Matt Toomua steps up to add the conversion for Tigers in the 78th minute and take the score to 47-12.
Ben White gets his second of the match as Tigers keep the possession and territory in the Treviso half before creating the space for White to run in the try.
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George Catchpole replaces Mathew Tait.
Dominic Ryan returns to the field to replace Fred Tuilagi in the 73rd minute.
After adding the conversion Joe Ford is replaced by Tom Hardwick
Joe Ford adds the conversion to take the score to 40-12 in the 69th minute.
Tigers again build the phases in the Treviso 22 and create the space for scrum-half Ben White to dive through and score in the 67th minute.
Welford Road Weather Update
Will Evans replaces Brendon O'Connor in the 64th minute.
Harry Wells, Ben White and Mathew Tait returns to replace Mike Fitzgerald, Sam Harrison and Matt Smith.
Joe Ford adds the conversion to make it a 33-12 lead in the 60th minute.
Tigers build the phases in the Treviso 22 before Ellis Genge is pushed over the line to score in the 59th minute.
Further Tigers Replacements
Luke Hamilton and Fred Tuilagi replace Mike Williams and Sione Kalamafoni in the 53rd minute.
Ben Betts replaces Logovi'i Mulipola in the 49th minute.
Ellis Genge, Dom Barrow, Brendon O'Connor, Matt Toomua, Nick Malouf and Telusa Veainu have replaced Greg Bateman, Graham Kitchener, Dominic Ryan, Charlie Thacker, Tom Brady and Mathew Tait.
Second-half gets underway
Tigers lead Treviso 26-12 at half-time here at Welford Road.
Joe Ford slots the extras to extend Tigers lead to 24-12 as the clock hits 40 minutes.
Impressive hands on show from Tigers who work through the Treviso 22 for Dominic Ryan to burst over the line in the 39th minute.
Tom Youngs run on to thunderous applause from the crowd as he replaces George McGuigan in the 37th minute.
Tommaso Allan adds the extras for Treviso to make it 19-12 at 33 minutes.
Treviso's Federico Ruzza pushes his way over the try line for Treviso's second try of the match in the 32nd minute.
Joe Ford adds the conversion to extend Tigers lead to 19-5 at 29 minutes.
Tigers chipped ahead into the Treviso 22 where Tom Brady gathered and off-loaded to Matt Smith for the try.
Treviso fly-half Tommaso Allan misses the conversion to keep the score at Tigers 12 Treviso 5.
Treviso create space on the wing to chip the ball ahead and Ignacio Brex wins the foot race to dot it down.
Joe Ford pushes the conversion just wide of the posts so the score remains Tigers 12 Treviso as the clock shows 20 minutes.
Tigers create a driving maul from the lineout and George McGuigan dots in down over the line for Tigers second try in the 19th minute.
Joe Ford adds the conversion to extend the lead to 7-0 in the 17th minute.
Logovi'i Mulipola powers his way over the line for Tigers first try of the match.
The benches have both cleared to warm-up on a dry but cold night.
Tigers get a penalty and kick to touch, 5m from the Treviso try-line
The first scrum of the game goes to Treviso after a Tigers knock-on on the half-way line.
Kick-off here at Welford Road as Tigers host Benetton Treviso in the first home pre-season game.
Treviso players have arrived
Tigers warm-up underway
Benetton Treviso squad
Forwards: Marco Barbini, Luca Bigi, Alberto De Marchi, Simone Ferrari, Ornel Gega, Marco Lazzaroni, Nasi Manu, Francesco Minto, Sebastian Negri, Tiziano Pasquali, Nicola Quaglio, Marco Riccioni, Federico Ruzza, Abraham Steyn, Cherif Traore, Federico Zani
Backs: Tommaso Allan, Marty Banks, Tommaso Benvenuti, Ignacio Brex, Giorgio Bronzini, Andrea Buondonno, Angelo Esposito, Edoardo Gori, Ian McKinley, Alberto Sgarbi, Luca Sperandio, Tito Tebaldi
Starting XV: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Charlie Thacker, 11 Jonah Holmes, 10 Joe Ford, 9 Sam Harrison, 1 Greg Bateman, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Mike Williams, 7 Dominic Ryan, 8 Sione Kalamafoni
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Chris Baumann, 19 Dom Barrow, 20 Brendon O'Connor, 21 Ben White, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Telusa Veainu
Few familiar faces at 96 Coffee
Pre-season visitors are here
Welcome to Welford Road
It's game day and the gates are open here at Welford Road, kick-off is at 7.45pm