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Tigers end pre-season with home win

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Leicester Tigers ended their pre-season campaign with a 21-17 victory over Cardiff Blues at Welford Road on Friday night.

Tigers scored first-half tries through Italy international Robert Barbieri and captain Ben Youngs. Fly-half Freddie Burns, one of four summer signings to make their first appearance in Tigers colours at Welford Road.

Tiger raced into a 12-0 lead but had to come from behind in the second-half through three Burns penalties to seal a hard-fought win.

It sets them up for the start of the new Aviva Premiership campaign, which begins at Welford Road on Saturday, September 6 against Newcastle Falcons.

Burns and Barbieri were joined by fellow summer arrival Leonardo Ghiraldini in the starting line-up. Seremaia Bai was among the replacements.

Youngs captained the Tigers after leading the team for the first time in last Saturday's match against Edinburgh. Anthony Allen and Graham Kitchener were involved in their first games of the pre-season programme.

Niall Morris showed some neat early touches, claiming a high ball under pressure and latching onto Anthony Allen's pass to create space on the right.

Tigers exploited the space, putting together a series of phases to take play to the left flank where Tuilagi slid a grubber behind the Cardiff defence. The bounce beat full-back Dan Fish and Barbieri swooped to dot down for the opening try after five minutes. Burns landed the conversion for the Tigers.

Tigers put together a brilliant move for a second try a few moments later. Burns and Tuilagi combined to open the Cardiff midfield before Goneva freed his arms in the tackle to offload for Youngs to score.

Cardiff responded with a try from their first attack of the game. Fly-half Rhys Patchell set scrum-half Lloyd Williams on a run past last-man Goneva and over for the score. It left Tigers 12-5 ahead after 18 minutes.

Patchell, who was wide with his conversion, was then short with a monster penalty attempt from close to his own 10m line.

Tigers then showed plenty of determination in defence as Cardiff attacked in waves on the 22. Tigers stood firm before Julian Salvi drew the penalty for holding on.

However, when Morris's knock-on was collected by a retreating Salvi Patchell landed a simple penalty to leave Tigers 12-8 ahead after 30 minutes. And Patchell knocked over his second penalty soon after to cut the difference to a point at the break.

Bai and Tom Bristow were introduced for Allen and Balmain respectively at the break.

Cardiff went ahead for the first time in the game two minutes into the second-half. Patchell, with the advantage of a penalty in the Tigers 2, landed a 30m drop goal to put the visitors 14-12 up.

A scrum penalty in front of the posts allowed Patchell to extend the Cardiff lead to 17-12.

It signalled a period of sustained Tigers possession with two men needed to halt Scully's break down the right. Play was moved inside where Tigers won a penalty in front of the posts and Burns cut the deficit to 17-15.

David Mele came on for Youngs and Briggs replaced Leonardo Ghiraldini. Mathew Tait replaced Morris for his first taste of action of pre-season and Balmain came back into the fray for Mulipola.

Much of the second half was played in heavy rain, which made for difficult handling conditions. A series of knock-ons, plus replacements for both teams, led to a stop-start half.

A catch and drive was illegally halted 5m short of the Cardiff line but Burns's penalty struck the left post and flew wide.

But Burns made no mistake moments later with another penalty to put Tigers into a one-point lead as the game headed into the final 10 minutes.

A huge up-and-under by Burns allowed Tuilagi to take Geraint Walsh man and ball on the edge of the Cardiff 22. Tigers piled into the breakdown and won the penalty and Burns landed a simple penalty for the final points of the game to seal the victory.

Match Details

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LEI 21-17 CAR




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Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers

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Cardiff Blues
Cardiff Blues
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Leicester Tigers
Cardiff Blues17
Cardiff Blues
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