Leicester Tigers completed an unbeaten pre-season programme with a 40-14 victory over the Ospreys at Welford Road on Friday evening with the new season just over a week away.
After wins over the Ospreys away and Treviso at home in the preceding two weeks, Tigers ran in six tries, including two for newcomer Jonny May, on a warm Bank Holiday evening.
First-half scores from May (2), Tom Brady and Matt Toomua gave Tigers a 26-0 lead at the break and, despite a quickfire reply from Ospreys at the start of the second half, the hosts held on to the lead with a score from Jonah Holmes and then a late addition from Charlie Thacker.
May, George Ford, Ben Youngs and Valentino Mapapalangi were brought into the squad by Matt O’Connor for the first time in the pre-season period, while Manu Tuilagi had his first outing since the New Year fixture with Saracens on his recovery from a knee injury, playing the first 40 minutes and looking keen and eager to carry ball. Centre partner Matt Toomua continued his build-up to the season after eight months on the sidelines.
The clock had not even reached the end of the first minute when the crowd rose to a charge from Tuilagi in midfield and, after Tigers secured ball again, Logovi’i Mulipola was brought down just short of the line.
Tom Youngs was the next to break the line deep in the Ospreys 22 after smart work from new arrivals Ford and May, and when the ball was sent wide to the right, Toomua picked out Brady but the wing just ran out of space as he dived for the line.
The breakthrough came in the ninth minute, with Ford again combining with May and the England wing winning the footrace into the left-hand corner. Ford had to wait for his first points of the evening, though, as he pushed the kick across the posts.
He did not have too long to wait as he made a break in midfield and Toomua put Brady in to score to the right of the posts. This time Ford added the extras for a 12-point lead.
And two minutes later, a quick attack from right to left, with Toomua and Telusa Veainu involved, gave May the space to score his second of the evening in the corner and Ford added the kick from the touchline
Even better followed when Toomua scored the fourth try of the evening following an ambitious break by May from turnover ball near the Tigers line. When May was caught on halfway, Ford took play on and the Toomua chipped in behind the defence and just got to the ball in time to dot down. Ford’s conversion made it 26-0.
Tigers took Tuilagi off at half-time with valuable gametime already under his belt, and it was the visitors who started the brighter, claiming two quickfire tries from possession near the tryline, with wing Jeff Hassler and centre Cory Allen the scorers. Fly-half James Hook added both conversions to trim the gap to 26-14 shortly after the 50-minute mark.
In defence, too, the Ospreys stood their ground, forcing Tigers through the phases in possession without finding a field position to stretch the scoreboard once more until the hosts started the build momentum again after the hour mark.
May’s evening came to a close after an hour, replaced by Holmes to a big reception from their new home crowd, and Mapapalangi emerged for his first outing in the Tigers shirt soon afterwards with O’Connor spreading gametime throughout the senior squad just nine days short of the start of the season.
Mapapalangi’s first intervention was a strong and well-timed charge on the Ospreys 22, with Mike Fitzgerald almost barging his way to the line before the visitors closed the door.
The home side’s first points of the half came after 70 minutes when Tom Croft latched superbly on to a clever kick from Ford and offloaded for Holmes to race in and score, to the delight of the crowd. Ford added the kick before giving way to older brother Joe as the game entered its last 10 minutes with Tigers 33-14 in front.
There was still one more score to come, with replacement centre Charlie Thacker finishing from close range after being involved in several phases of the attack. Ford senior competed the evening’s scoring with the conversion kick.
Tigers begin the Aviva Premiership season with a home game against Bath Rugby next Sunday (September 3). Kick-off is at 3.00pm and match tickets are on sale in all areas now. Book in person at the Tigers ticket office or phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2). The office is open 9.00am-5.00pm Monday-Saturday every week. Or book online any time.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Tom Youngs, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 4 Dom Barrow, 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Mike Williams, 7 Luke Hamilton, 8 Sione Kalamafoni.
Replacements: Greg Bateman, Ben Betts, Harry Thacker, Mike Fitzgerald, Harry Wells, Joe Maksymiw, Will Evans, Valentino Mapapalangi, Sam Harrison, Joe Ford, Nick Malouf, Charlie Thacker, Matt Smith, Jonah Holmes, , Mathew Tait, Ben White
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Keelan Giles, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Jeff Hassler, 10 James Hook, 9 Tom Habberfield (c); 1 Paul James, 2 Sam Parry, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 4 Bradley Davies, 5 Rory Thornton, 6 Rob McCusker, 7 Olly Cracknell, 8 Dan Baker
Replacements: 16 Ifan Phillips, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Lloyd Ashley, 20 Adam Beard, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Joe Thomas, 23 Ben John, Gareth Thomas, Sam Cross, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Tom Williams, Jay Baker, James Ratti
P.S. For those who weren't here with us tonight at Welford Road, keep an eye on LTTV early next week for tonight's match highlights - including all the tries!
See you next Sunday!
An exciting display from a new-look Leicester Tigers team tonight, ending the pre-season with a 100% winning record and plenty of talking points.
We hope you enjoyed the coverage and we'll be back, LIVE, right here next Sunday afternoon for our Premiership Rugby opener against Bath at Welford Road.
Join us before the game in Nelson Mandela Park, next door to the ground, for our family-friendly-fun-filled-frenzy Tigers in the Park at 11am.
Goodnight #Tigersfamily and have a great weekend.
EXCITING AND GRITTY - WE'LL TAKE IT!
Tigers - Jonny May (2), Tom Brady, Matt Toomua, Jonah Holmes, Charlie Thacker;
Ospreys - Jeff Hasler, Cory Allen
Tigers - George Ford 4/5, Joe Ford 1/1
Ospreys - James Hook 2/2
FULL TIME: TIGERS 40 - OSPREYS 14
That's full time at Welford Road as Leicester Tigers make it three wins from three outings this pre-season, including two over Ospreys, with a 40-14 victory in front of a vocal crowd here this evening.
Joe Ford this time adds the extras, extending the Tigers lead to 40-14 over Ospreys at Welford Road.
TRY - Tigers!
Quick thinking from Charlie Thacker at the ruck, after offloading for Matt Smith, as he pick-and-goes to crash his way over for a try!
Penalty - Tigers
As the final minutes close in, Tigers are awarded a penalty just 5 out from the Ospreys line.
FIVE TO GO!
Tigers remain in the lead 33-14 at Welford Road as the 75th minute ticks over on the clock.
handful of changes for tigers
George Ford, Matt Toomua, Ben Youngs and Telusa Veainu have been given early showers for the night as they're replaced by Joe Ford, Charlie Thacker, Sam Harrison and Mathew Tait.
Ford adds another for the evening, extending the Tigers lead to 33-14 as just ten minutes now remain at Welford Road.
TRY - TIGERS!
In their first points of the second half, Tigers cross through Jonah Holmes after a beautiful linking play between Ford and Toomua midfield sees the ball grubbered through for a flying Tom Croft to latch on to it and find the flying winger inside.
side to side, play it wide
Both Tigers and Ospreys switching between possession in the final quarter of this clash, showing their intent to play it wide and shift the ball tonight!
HOOK SHOWS EXPERIENCE
Experienced play from Ospreys flyhalf James Hook, seeing an empty patch of grass at the back and putting the ball in to touch 15 out from Leicester's line for a Tigers lineout.
ospreys end leicester attack
Despite persistent pressure from the home side, marching up field slowly but surely, the visitors are able to force a penalty and hand themselves a reprieve from the Tigers onslaught in attack.
James Hook finds touch just short of halfway to further ease the pressure.
keeping it simple
George Ford opts to give his big men a break, grubbering for the touchline on the Ospreys 22 and handing a much-needed breather to some tired bodies out in the middle of Welford Road.
TWO CHANGES FOR TIGERS
A standing ovation for Jonny May in his first Tigers appearance, after two tries, as he's replaced by Jonah Holmes. Meanwhile in the forwards, Mike Williams leaves the field and is swapped for new recruit Tino Mapapalangi in the backrow.
HOUR MARK TICKS OVER
As the hour mark ticks over at Welford Road, cracks are beginning to show in both teams defensive lines as tired bodies feel the burn.
Who will bring this one home, as the Welsh side have been the better of the two in the second half so far with two tries to none from Tigers?
WE MISS YOU TOO
MOC MAKES (ANOTHER) CHANGE
Greg Bateman and Harry Thacker enter the game for the first time tonight, replacing England internationals Ellis Genge and Tom Youngs in the front row.
Mike Fitzgerald re-enters the match, replacing Dom Barrow.
MOC MAKES A CHANGE
Joe Ford has been replaced at fullback by Telusa Veainu, who comes back in to the match.
full of it
Too much on that one from Ospreys, as they look to clear but send it into touch on the full and Tigers are gifted a good attacking chance with a lineout less than 40 out from the visitors line.
James Hook makes it 2/2 for his night so far as he adds the extras, closing the Tigers lead to just twelve points after 55 minutes at Welford Road.
TRY - Ospreys
Ospreys centre Cory Allen crashes over from the play following the yellow card for Kalamafoni and close their gap to 14 points.
CROFT COMES ON
O'Connor again uses his bench as Tom Croft and Will Evans enter the match, replacing Sione Kalamafoni and Luke Hamilton.
Sione Kalamafoni has been sent to the sin bin, yellow carded for laying on the ruck following a midfield break from Ospreys saw them inside the Tigers 22.
James Hook converts from in front and Ospreys now trail by 19 at Welford Road with just under half an hour remaining.
TRY - Ospreys
Ospreys cross for their first of the night through wing Jeff Hassler, after a classy play from the lineout sees him in space to dot down.
Another penalty Ospreys way, this time closer to the Tigers line.
They find touch just 5m out from the home side's line with half an hour remaining on the clock.
Back-to-back penalties for the visiting side as the referee rules the Tigers offside at the ruck.
James Hook finds touch 22m out from the Leicester try line.
Penalty - Ospreys
Penalty is blown the way of the visitors from their own scrum feed and James Hook finds touch just short of halfway for an Ospreys lineout.
drop from dom
Dom Barrow takes the third hit-up from the base of the ruck following Tigers successful lineout close to Ospreys line but, unfortunately, the ball slips between his fingertips and it will be a scrum to the away side in front of their uprights.
Score remains at 26-0 in the Tigers favour, just inside the second half.
Penalty - Tigers
George Ford takes advantage of yet another penalty against Ospreys, finding touch just 7m out from the visitors try line.
it's dry, let it fly
It appears both sides are looking to exploit the dry conditions this evening as Ospreys come out with some intent to move the ball around in the opening minutes of the second half.
Ouch! Nick Malouf says hello to his opposite number for the first time tonight with a bone-crunching tackle, bringing the Terrace to their feet ... wait, um, jumping from their already position of their feet.
Second half subs
Joe Ford, Matt Smith, Nick Malouf have come on as replacements for Telusa Veainu, Manu Tuilagi and Tom Brady.
SECOND HALF IS UNDERWAY!
The action is back on for the second chapter of this one as Ospreys flyhalf James Hook gets us underway.
king of the kids!
HALF TIME LEAD FOR THE HOME SIDE
Despite the best efforts of the home side in the dying stages of the opening half, the scores remain as they were at 26-0 at Welford Road at half time.
Tries: Jonny May (2), Tom Brady, Matt Toomua
Conversions: George Ford (3/4)
tigers roaring into defence
Ospreys again look to bend the Leicester defensive line and again are forced in to an error through some BIG HITS in defence.
Ben Youngs to feed the scrum on the Tigers 40.
go the patriot!
Tom Brady sends it downfield with a big boot and he's in the lead on the chase ... but, can't connect with the attempted toe ahead and Ospreys dive on the ball inside their own 22.
A penalty follows the way of the visitors and Hook finds touch inside the Tigers side of halfway with 3 minutes remaining in the first half.
George Ford adds the extra two and extends the lead to 26-0 here at Welford Road, with just five minutes remaining on the clock.
TRY - TIGERS!
Faster than we could keep up, the home side are in again!! WOW. Just wow.
A forced turnover on their own line saw the ball sent wide straight away and Tuilagi linked with May to eat metres down the right-hand touchline. Just two rucks later a midfield break from George Ford allowed Matt Toomua to step in to first receiver and spot a gap behind the line, grubbering for himself to dive on it and score the fourth of the night.
George Ford again shows poise from the pitch-line with a post splitting conversion attempt to make it 19-0 after half an hour at Welford Road.
TRY - TIGERS!
MAY we just say... that was special!
Again, the home side show an intent to use their star-studded backline this season as the ball is sent wide in a very classy play from the lineout to Jonny May, for the new recruit to dot down for his second of the night in style to make it 17-0.
Ospreys ruled to be offside from their re-start and George Ford is gifted a chance to find territory as he sends it in to touch well inside the visitors half.
George Ford adds the extras from the right-hand touchline, much to the enjoyment of the home faithful.
The Leicester side now lead 12-0 after just over half an hour.
TRY - TIGERS!
Well, well, well... that was a sight for the recruitment department!
Sideline to sideline play from the home side brings results as George Ford breaks the line with fancy footwork before offloading for Matt Toomua, who just metres out sends it back inside for a flying Tom Brady to cross for their second.
Penalty - Tigers
Again, a strong scrum from the home side forces a penalty at the scrum and George Ford finds touch from the following play 30m out from the Ospreys line.
Leicester lining up well
Tigers again show intent in defence to keep their scoreboard showing a 'doughnut' as they pressure the visiting Welsh side in to a turnover.
The ball moves quickly to the wing once again but, the play is stopped as Ospreys attempt an intercept and knock on.
Tigers will feed the scrum on their own 40.
Substitution - Tigers
Mike Fitzgerald has entered the game, replacing Graham Kitchener.
The Tigers bring it down from the lineout but, again show intentions to play wide and cough it up in the midfield.
Ospreys pounce, booting it down field and are awarded a penalty just two rucks later for James Hook to find touch 5 out from the home side's line.
A strong scrum from Leicester proves helpful as the Referee awards a penalty their way, giving George Ford an opportunity to find touch just 12m out from the Ospreys try-line.
Tigers chants begin.
Home side hold strong
A strong display in defence from a Tigers side looking to prove themselves this evening as, despite the best efforts of the visitors, they force a knock-on through persistent pressure off the line.
The crowd enjoyed that one and Ben Youngs will feed the scrum just inside the Tigers side of halfway.
PENALTY - Ospreys
A penalty is awarded the way of the visiting side after a back and forth between big men in the midfield, as Tigers are ruled to have not released the player in the ruck.
Ospreys find touch just 25m out from the Leicester line.
Tigers force a short-arm penalty in their favour from the Ospreys feed and will re-pack it inside the visitors half.
The home side look to play wide from the base of their scrum and the ball moves quickly, but not with good enough accuracy to find touch inside the Welsh side's half.
NOT AFRAID TO PLAY TONIGHT
Tigers are showing intentions of being an attacking side this season as once again they look to play wide, following the Ospreys re-start.
Despite potential after good additions to the play from May and Tuilagi, a drop ball follows and Ospreys feed the scrum inside their own half.
George Ford can't add the extras from out wide and we remain 5-0 ahead at Welford Road after the opening ten minutes.
TRY - TIGERS!
After a strong touch-finder following an Ospreys penalty inside our half, the ball is shifted wide once again by the Tigers with Dom Barrow breaking the visitors line strongly.
It's moved quickly from the base by Ben Youngs for George Ford, who grubbers with accuracy for new recruit Jonny May to dive on the ball and cross for his first as a Tiger.
Ospreys clear their line once again and the lineout is ours inside our own half.
We play wide again from the ensuing play but, the ball is 'unplayabale' again at the ruck and Ospreys have the scrum feed 30 out from their line.
OH SO CLOSE
Tom Brady with some fancy footwork and a dive for the line ... but he's in to touch and Ospreys will feed the line out from inside their own 5m.
Wide she goes!
George Ford showing his ability in attack as he touches the ball twice in the one attack, before sending a beautiful ball wide for fellow newbie Jonny May to show his speed down the line.
The ball is sent back the other direction from the next ruck for Matt Toomua to do likewise for Tom Brady.
clear the line
Ospreys clear the line from the scrum and it doesn't find touch but, does find Telusa Veainu who links well with Manu to re-enter the visitors half in attack.
Scrum - Ospreys
Despite showing early signs of strong attack, the ball is unplayable at the ruck and scrum is awarded the way of the visitors on their own try line.
In other news, the crowd is a vocal one this evening!! Tiiiiigers!
Manu with a barnstorming run with his first touch as he crashes through the Ospreys line, sending their defence in to a spin.
Welcome back Manu, welcome back!
Strong start from the Tigers side as they pressure well in defence from the kick-off and force Ospreys in to finding touch just 22m out.
George Ford gets his first involvement as a Tigers player (again) with kick-off to Ospreys.
HERE COME THE TIGERS!
Captain Tom Youngs leads the team on to the field for tonight's clash, with the side wearing this season's new alternate strip.
Looking very slick gentlemen!
things are heating up
Both of tonight's teams are out in the middle of Welford Road for warm up, as a healthy crowd builds in the stands. Kick-off is just twenty minutes away.
Greg Bateman, Harry Thacker, Ben Betts, Mike Fitzgerald, Harry Wells, Tom Croft, Will Evans, Valentino Mapapalangi, Sam Harrison, Joe Ford, Nick Malouf, Charlie Thacker, Matt Smith, Jonah Holmes, Mathew Tait
starting xv confirmed
15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs
1 Ellis Genge, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 4 Dom Barrow, 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Mike Williams, 7 Luke Hamilton, 8 Sione Kalamafoni
stars are out tonight
A warm welcome back to Welford Road is expected for a handful of international stars tonight as Tuilagi, G.Ford, May and B.Youngs are back in the mix.
Exciting time to be a Tigers fan!
TURNSTILES ARE TURNING
LIVE FROM LEICESTER ... it's Friday night!
The #Tigersfamily has begun building at the gates here at Welford Road. Turnstiles open in less than 15 minutes!
Are you excited? Get excited. We're excited.