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Bonus-point win secures home cup semi

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Leicester Tigers booked a home semi-final in this season's LV= Cup with a 43-9 bonus-point victory over Cardiff Blues on Saturday afternoon.

After three wins in their first three pool stage games, Tigers went into the game knowing a first-ever win at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park would be enough for a Welford Road fixture in the last four of the Anglo-Welsh competition.

And they secured top spot in LV= Cup Pool 3 with only their second bonus-point victory in Wales, coming back from 9-0 down in the first-half with 43 unanswered points. It was Cardiff Blues' biggest home defeat since the region was formed in 2003.

Fraser Balmain's first try in a Tigers shirt was added to before half-time by Niall Morris's first score of the campaign as Tigers led 15-9 at the break.

Tigers dominated the second period and scored four more tries. David Mele crossed from close range for his first try of the season before Tommy Bell collected the bonus-point score. Adam Thompstone added two further tries in the final 10 minutes, collecting George Catchpole's kicks on each occasion to set the seal on the win.

Sebastian de Chaves captained Tigers for the first time and was joined in the second row by Jack Whetton, who made his first start for the club.

With Robert Barbieri on Six Nations duty with Italy, Harry Thacker moved to the back row and Neil Briggs started at hooker. Mele replaced Sam Harrison at scrum-half in the only change to the backline.

Cardiff included former Tigers back Lucas Amorosino in their starting XV and lock Lou Reed, who had a brief loan spell at Welford Road earlier in the season.

Tigers survived an early scare when Owen Williams' clearance was charged down inside the Leicester 22 but the ball bounced to Catchpole who found touch.

Tigers stole possession at the lineout and Roberts broke 40m into the Cardiff half. However, the centre was isolated and was pinged for holding on.

Cardiff were awarded the game's first penalty as Tigers went off their feet at a ruck and Gareth Davies gave the hosts a 3-0 lead after five minutes.

Bell sparked a counterattack from deep that involved Mele and Morris before Bell rejoined the attack but he was tackled into touch on the left 8m short.

It was a breathless start to the game with Macauley Cook breaking from his own half to the Tigers 22 where he was well tackled by Morris. Williams held him up and Tigers were awarded the scrum put-in.

Davies doubled Cardiff's advantage with a second penalty after Tigers went offside in defence before adding a third as Tigers were pinged at a ruck in their own 22. The hosts held a 9-0 lead midway through the first half.

Tigers were awarded their first penalty of the contest after 21 minutes as Cardiff defenders failed to roll from the tackle area and Williams landed his kick for Leicester's opening points. It signalled 15 unanswered points for the visitors before half-time.

But first it required some excellent defending, led by fly-half Williams, to keep the Blues at bay and, indeed, drive them from the edge of the Leicester 22 back into their own half where Davies' kick went out on the full.

And where Tigers were tenacious in defence so they were more accurate in attack, and they made that accuracy pay with the game's opening try.

Catchpole's initial break had Cardiff backpedalling and Tigers kept their foot on the throttle going through phase after phase. Laurence Pearce was stopped just short of the line but Balmain followed up for his first senior try. Williams added the conversion to put Tigers ahead for the first time.

Tigers added a second try from the restart. This time Bell made the break and Tigers flooded forward, Bell rejoined the attack and offloaded out of the tackle to put Morris in at the right corner. It gave Tigers a 15-9 lead at the break.

Tigers rejigged their pack at half-time with Greg Peterson replacing Pearce. Peterson packed down in the second row, Whetton moved to flanker and Jamie Gibson went to No8.

Tigers looked a threat with ball in hand, but also had a solid lineout from which to attack. And the lineout was the source for their third try 10 minutes into the second period.

The drive was stopped 5m short but Tigers continued to test the Cardiff defence through Williams, Balmain and Thacker, which created a gap for Mele to ghost through for the third try and the eighth of his Tigers career. Williams' extras moved Tigers 22-9 ahead.

The lineout was the source again as Tigers went close to the bonus-point try, but Thacker was stopped just short of the line. Play came back for an earlier infringement, de Chaves set up the drive but Balmain was held up over the line.

Tigers dominated possession and territory in the third quarter but had to wait until 15 minutes from time for the bonus-point try. Quick ball allowed Morris and Roberts to combine to send Bell on an angled run to the right corner for his first Tigers try. Williams landed the conversion to extend Leicester's lead to 29-9.

Leicester continued to dominate in every facet of the game and added a fifth try with six minutes remaining. Catchpole was alert to an overlap on the left wing and lifted an inch perfect kick into the arms of Thompstone who touched down unopposed. Bell took over kicking duties from Williams and landed the conversion.

There was still time for a sixth try and again it was Catchpole and Thompstone who combined. This time Catchpole slid a grubber behind the Cardiff defence and Thompstone swooped for his fourth try in four games. Bell added the conversion with the final kick of the game.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

CAR 9-15 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

CAR 9-43 LEI

Attendance

5,742

Referee

Leighton Hodges

Match Stats

Cardiff Blues
Leicester Tigers
Possession
0%
100%
Territory
0%
0%
Penalties Conceded
9
8
Yellow Cards
0
0
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
122/163 75%
117/130 90%
Scrums Won
6/7 86%
7/8 88%
Lineouts Won
10/10 0%
10/10 0%

Player Stats

Cardiff Blues
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Tommy Bell1T2C
14Niall Morris1T
13George Catchpole
12
112T
103C1P
9David Mele1T
1Michele Rizzo
2Neil Briggs
3Fraser Balmain1T
4Jack Whetton
5Sebastian De Chaves
6Jamie Gibson
7Harry Thacker
8Laurence Pearce
16George Nairn
17
18Logovi'i Mulipola
19Greg Peterson
20Tom Price
21
22
23Terrence Hepetema
Cardiff Blues
Cardiff Blues
9

Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
43

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV

Tommy Bell
15
Tommy Bell
Niall Morris
14
Niall Morris
12
10
David Mele
9
David Mele
Neil Briggs
2
Neil Briggs
Fraser Balmain
3
Fraser Balmain
Jack Whetton
4
Jack Whetton
Sebastian De Chaves
5
Sebastian De Chaves
Jamie Gibson
6
Jamie Gibson
Laurence Pearce
8
Laurence Pearce

Subs

George Nairn
16
George Nairn
17
Greg Peterson
19
Greg Peterson
Tom Price
20
Tom Price
Terrence Hepetema
23
Terrence Hepetema

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
14
Owen Jenkins
13
12
11
10
Gareth Davies
9
Tavis Knoyle
1
Thomas Davies
2
Rhys Williams
3
4
5
Lou Reed
6
7
Ellis Jenkins
8

Subs

16
Ethan Lewis
17
Bradley Thyer
18
Taufa'ao Filise
19
Ben Roach
20
21
Lloyd Williams
22
Rhys Patchell
23
Form Guide
Form
LWWWD
Last Match
Draw with Stade Francais null-null
Past Meeting
Lost 20-30
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WDWDD
Last Match
Draw with Bayonne null-null
Past Meeting
Won 30-20

Matchday Live

Cardiff Blues9
Cardiff Blues
Leicester Tigers43
Leicester Tigers
Full Time