Leicester Tigers have gone down 47-28 in the final group game of the Premiership Cup, a young and inexperienced Tigers side putting up a brave fight against Bedford Blues.
Tigers made 23 changes from the team that beat Newcastle Falcons 60-7 for the visit to Bedford, eight players making their first appearance for the club.
Despite the loss, Tigers are through to the semi-finals of the Premiership Cup set to take place in February next year.
Bedford got out of the blocks, centre Tom Litchfield crossing for the opening try in front of an excellent crowd at Goldington Road.
Leicester responded through centre Joseph Woodward, lock Lewis Chessum showing great determination to charge down a box-kick, gather, then offload to his teammate under the posts.
Bedford backrow Joe Howard would restore the home side’s lead not long after however, that try sparking the Tigers into action.
Off the back of strong defence, Tigers earned a penalty and went for the corner. The drive was brought down illegally, and the referee had no option but to award Leicester a penalty try.
Tigers were not finished for the first half either, and off the back of a quick counter-attack flyhalf Wilkinson put in a perfect kick. Wing Joe Browning matched the effort with his chase and the pressure turned to points as the ball landed in Woodward’s hands for his second try.
Wilkinson found the range with his conversion making it 21-12 at the break.
Bedford were first to fire in the second half, the Blues running in two tries in quick succession to take the lead.
Tigers managed to force their way back into lead, wing Ben Woollett scoring on debut for Leicester.
The lead didn’t last long however, Blues beating Leicester’s cover defence out wide to score an excellent try, number eight Cameron King the one to touch down. The touchline conversion made it 33-28 with 20 minutes to play.
That try lifted the home crowd, and Bedford would seal the win through replacement prop Joey Conway.
The young Tigers side continued to push, but the contest belonged to Bedford, the home side running in a final try at the full-time bell to make it 47-28 and that’s how it ended.