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Tigers end pre-season with Welford Road win

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Leicester Tigers ended their pre-season campaign with a 42-38 victory over Ospreys at Welford Road on Friday evening.

It was a second successive summer victory for the Tigers and a tough workout before they open their Aviva Premiership campaign away to Gloucester Rugby next Friday.

Tigers ran in six tries in all, with winger Adam Thompstone grabbing a brace. There were also tries for Peter Betham, Dom Barrow, Ed Slater and Luke Hamilton also dotting down.

Director of rugby Richard Cockerill gave game time to 28 of his players, with new signing Hamilton given a first taste of action at Welford Road. Greg Bateman started at tighthead prop while Sam Harrison was at fly-half alongside scrum-half Jono Kitto.

There were first run outs of pre-season for Dom Barrow, Mathew Tait and Telusa Veainu. Summer signings JP Pietersen and George McGuigan were named on the bench for their first inclusion in a Tigers squad. England internationals Dan Cole and Ben Youngs were also on the bench for their first taste of action since the summer tour to Australia.

Hamilton announced himself with a huge hit in midfield as Tigers were forced to defend for large parts of the opening 10 minutes. But a turnover on their 22 sparked a quick move across the backs that gave Veainu chance to stretch his legs down the right flank. His kick inside was fielded by Peter Betham but Tigers knocked on to end the attack.

Harrison was instrumental in the opening try. His pinpoint penalty found a 5m touch on the right and from the lineout, the Tigers drive sucked in defenders allowing Harrison to pick out Thompstone with a delicate kick to the opposite corner for the score. Harrison landed the touchline conversion to give Tigers a 7-0 lead.

Tigers doubled their lead before the halfway point of the first half. Betham ran a great line in support of Brendon O'Connor and span out of a couple of tackles to score under the posts. Harrison, who was busy and inventive in the opening quarter, added the extras.

Tigers came under pressure at a driving lineout and, after bringing down the maul, failed to stop scrum-half Tom Habberfield taking the penalty quickly and darting over from 5m. Sam Davies landed trhe conversion to cut Tigers' lead to 14-7.

Tigers responded immediately with a simple try, quick recycling eventually creating the gap for Barrow to barrel over. Harrison's conversion restored the 14-point cushion.

On a warm, late summer's evening at Welford Road there was a real pre-season feel to proceedings and it was Ospreys who were next to score. Ashley Beck made the break and had Dan Evans on his shoulder to finish with Davies adding the conversion.

Ospreys scored a third try shortly before half-time when a quickly-taken free-kick created space on the left for Dafydd Howells to dive in at the corner. Unconverted, it left Tigers 21-19 ahead at the break.

Tigers began the second half quickly, going close to a try from a lineout drive. The drive was pulled down just short and with the advantage of a penalty, Ed Slater forced his way over from close range. Harrison maintained his 100 per cent kicking record to move Tigers 28-19 ahead.

Tigers replaced the front row soon after, but it was a slick backs move that had the crowd on their feet. Adam Thompstone latched onto Betham's inside pass but slipped as he tried to round last man Evans. Kitto was in support but he was stopped 8m out.

Tigers continued to press and prop Nicky Smith received a warning from referee Luke Pearce for a scrum infringement.

Instead, it was Tigers who went down to 14 men. Pietersen, within minutes of coming on as a replacement, was shown a yellow card for infringing at the back of a ruck.

Ospreys made the man advantage count straight away, working an overlap on the left for replacement winger Eli Walker to score on the left. Davies struck the post with his kick to leave Tigers 28-24 ahead with 22 minutes remaining.

Both sides were reduced to 14 men soon after the restart. Persistent infringement at scrum time by the Ospreys ended with Paul James, their replacement prop, receiving a yellow card.

And this time it was Tigers who made the situation count immediately, with Hamilton finishing off the lineout drive for the home side's fifth try. Harrison's extras gave Leicester a 35-24 lead.

Ospreys brought themselves to within a score through Hugh Gustafson, the replacement hooker bouncing off a couple of tackles to score next to the posts. Davies's conversion left Tigers 35-31 ahead with 12 minutes left.

It was end-to-end stuff and Tigers were the next to score. Roberts made a stunning break from halfway and had Thompstone on his shoulder to score his second of the game. George Worth, on for Harrison, maintained Tigers' 100 per cent kicking record to give them a 42-31 lead.

A mistake on their own tryline then let Ospreys in for another score. Ben Youngs and Matt Smith failed to clear the danger on their own line and when Smith spilled possession Walker had a simple score. Davies's conversionbut Tigers' lead to four points again.

Tigers ended the game camped on the Ospreys line but were unable to finish with a flourish as the visitors held firm under huge pressure at the end.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score


FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 42-38 OSP




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