Leicester Tigers recorded a bonus-point victory in the opening home game of the season on Friday evening with a 27-7 triumph over Exeter Chiefs.
A Guy Thompson try after just two minutes and a score from Jordan Olowofela on the quarter-hour while fly-half Noel Reid was in the sin-bin put Tigers 10-7 in front in the second round of the Premiership Rugby Cup at Welford Road and then Jonah Holmes added a third before the break.
Reid’s penalty stretched the advantage to 20-7 early in the second half but the hosts had to dig into their defensive drills as Chiefs enjoyed the bulk of possession in the second half before Kyle Eastmnd provided a fourth score with five minutes remaining.
Reid, Hanro Liebenberg and Jordan Coghlan were all handed a Tigers debut while Calum Green started in the second row in his first appearance since a summer return from Newcastle Falcons.
Head coach Geordan Murphy made a total of 14 changes to the line-up beaten at Worcester in Round 1, with Olowofela returning from a shoulder injury and on-loan Andy Forsyth the only player retained in the starting team.
Chiefs got the game under way and kept the ball in Tigers territory for the opening minutes before the hosts broke out for the first score of the night.
Good work from a lineout catch by Green allowed the forwards to wrap in the Chiefs pack and ball was quickly played to the left where Olowofela combined with Forsyth before Thompson burst through to take the scoring pass.
Reid was off-target with the conversion and then spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin for a high tackle as Exeter made promising use of possession on their right.
The pay-off was immediate as Chiefs pushed their way over from a series of close-range drives, with No8 Jacques Vermeulen making the final push. Harvey Skinner added the conversion for a 7-5 lead.
George Worth moved to first receiver in the backline, but Tigers had to get through their defensive work, with Liebenberg conspicuous, as Chiefs retained possession for long periods.
But when Tigers got some go-forward again, they built pressure on the tryline and a succession of phases near the tryline eventually saw the ball played out wide and Forsyth put Olowofela in to score on the left to retake the lead with 16 minutes gone.
Worth scooped his conversion attempt short with Tigers 10-7 in front.
Green’s awareness brought a penalty just inside the Chiefs half as he wrapped up scrum-half Sam Maunder and, after Tigers had taken play down the right, Holmes dotted down for the team’s third try on 25 minutes.
Forsyth and Eastmond worked the ball in midfield and Reid showed a smart pair of hands to release Holmes to score on the right. Reid added the kick too as the lead reached 17-7.
Tigers were forced into a change as Harry Wells replaced Will Spencer at the restart and the forwards were quickly into the action again, stealing lineout ball just 15 metres out from their own trylne as Chiefs tried to build on a penalty award for offside.
Olowofela and Eastmond then threatened to break from deep, but the ball just slipped out of the centre’s grasp on halfway with Chiefs racing back to cover with four minutes remaining in the half and the hosts still 10 in front.
Chiefs were awarded a penalty at the scrum, giving Skinner a chance to kick to the right, though he made touch only on the Tigers 22 and they lost possession at the first phase from the lineout in the final attack of the opening half.
An overthrown lineout from Chiefs put Tigers into dangerous territory early in the second period, though successive carries from the hosts were met with belligerent defence until a penalty award allowed Reid to add another three points to the total.
Ben White was introduced from the bench as the game restarted and he combined with Reid and Eastmond to set Holmes away on a 40-metre break on the right while Reid showed some subtle skills on the ball to get in behind the Chiefs defence before taking a heavy hit from Lewis Pearson which the referee reviewed numerous times before restarting play with a Chiefs scrum.
A frantic period inside the Tigers 22 threatened to bring a Chiefs score until Thompson won turnover ball on the floor, but the hosts were still pinned in their own area of the pitch as the game approached the hour mark.
Freddie Steward got on for his home debut as a swap for Olowofela, and Tigers also changed the front row, and they had another escape when Chiefs tapped from a penalty but spilled ball in the next phase.
Another lineout steal halted a Chiefs set-piece and White was finally able to kick up to halfway and ease the pressure on the Tigers defence.
Tigers, though, were having a tough time at the scrum and a penalty at the set-piece gave Skinner sight of goal but he pulled his kick wide from the 10-metre line.
Reid overcooked his drop-out, giving Chiefs set-piece ball again on the Tigers 22, only for the home pack to this time get the shove on and the penalty award.
Scoring opportunities had been scarce for Tigers but, after the forwards had Chiefs back-pedalling from a lineout drive, they made it count as Tom Hardwick flicked a perfect pass out of contact for Eastmond to dive in and grab the bonus point.
Hardwick’s touchline conversion made it 27-7 with five minutes left on the clock, though Chiefs then looked to set up a lineout drive in the right-hand corner, only for Wells to steal their maul ball five metres from his own tryline.
They had one final chance from another penalty to the corner but this time met Liebenberg and Green as they defended their line and the 27-7 margin.
Tonight's Fan Favourite as voted by supporters on the Tigers App is Jordan Olowofela.
Also a farewell to David Denton tonight
Thank you to the TigersFamily for joining us this evening at Welford Road and after a trip to Bath next weekend we look forward to welcoming you back for the derby fixture against Northampton Saints here at Welford Road on Saturday, October 12.
Tigers 27 Exeter 7
Exeter with a driving maul and look to get over the Tigers line but as it breaks up Tigers hold up the ball and deny Exeter the try.
The referee blows his whistle and that's full-time here at Welford Road.
The scrum goes down and the referee blows his whistle for a penalty, Exeter go for another lineout 5 metres out.
Almost a complete steal
Exeter with the driving maul from the lineout but Harry Wells appears with the ball and goes for the break but fumbles the ball to knock-on and it is Exeter with the scrum as the clock just hits 80 minutes.
Penalty the other way
There's some confusion as the referee blows his whistle and changes his direction of penalty but Exeter win the penalty at the scrum and kick for a lineout in Tigers 22.
Messy and reset scrum
Tigers with the ball but it's a messy scrum and the referee calls to reset the scrum.
Steal and Knock-on
Tigers steal at the lineout and as Exeter try to recover the loose ball the referee calls a knock-on so it's Tigers scrum between our 22 and 10 metre line.
Keeping the ball
Tigers keep the ball from the restart with a few phases in our 22 before the box kick from Ben White kicks clear and into touch up near Tigers 10 metre line.
Tom Hardwick adds the extras and takes Tigers lead to 27-7.
Tigers with the phases on the Exeter tryline before a great offload from Tom Hardwick on the wing finds Kyle Eastmond who dots down next to the flag for the bonus point try.
What a Drive
Tigers with a huge driving maul all the way up the Exeter tryline but it is just short and they look to the forwards to get the try
Another big scrum
Tigers win a penalty at the scrum and Hardwick kicks Tigers into the 22 for a lineout.
Just goes forward
Tigers work the ball out wide and show good hands before the last pass is deemed to have gone forward by the referee and Exeter have the scrum just outside their 22.
Tigers with the ball and looking to build phases around the Exeter 22.
Good driving maul
Tigers create the driving maul and push into the Exeter 22 and it's all Tigers on the attack.
Tigers going forward
Tigers again look good at the scrum and win a penalty.
Hardwick with a good kick into touch for a Tigers lineout just outside the Exeter 22.
Sam Morley has replaced Barrie Karea.
Tom Hardwick is on to replace Noel Reid.
More handling errors
Exeter with the ball at the lineout and they look to make a break through the midfield but the ball is knocked on along the ground and Tigers have the scrum.
Tigers in space
Tigers with a quick lineout and driving maul, before getting the ball out wide and Freddie Steward shows good skills to drive the ball up the wing.
The ball is brought back across the field and chipped ahead but goes into touch on halfway.
Tigers with a huge scrum to win a scrum penalty and kick for a lineout just inside our half.
Not the kick he planned
Noel Reid holds up his hand as his kick goes straight into touch and Exeter have the scrum on Tigers 22.
James McRae and Pete Laverick replace JOsh Caulfield and Max Bodilly.
Guy Thompson is replaced by Tommy Reffell.
Exeter is just wide with the penalty from Harvery Skinner and Tigers have the 22 restart.
It's a reset scrum before Tigers loose a penalty at the next scrum and Exeter point to the posts.
Joe Snow is on to replace Sam Maunder.
Exeter with another box kick but they tap it back to keep posession and are on the attack in TIgers half.
Exeter look to go wide but a huge tackle from Jonah Holmes on the wing keeps them out of the 22 and good pressure from Tigers sees Exeter knock-on in midfield for a Tigers scrum.
Tigers win a free kick at the scrum and kick for the lineout.
Tigers again with a lineout streal and it's Tigers with a clearing kick to halfway but Exeter keep it in and go on the attack on halfway.
Exeter decide to go quick and tap and go but the ball is fumbled along the ground as Exeter are tackled and Tigers have a scrum for the knock-on on our 5 metre line.
Exeter create the driving maul from the lineout and win a penalty as Tigers are deemed to have pullled down the lineout.
Jordan Poole is on for Jack Innard.
The scrum has barely started and Exeter win a penalty, kicking to the corner for a lineout.
Joe Heyes and Jordan Olowofela are replaced by Gaston Cortes and Freddie Steward for his Welford Road debut.
Good defence and turnover
Tigers defence holds strong as Exeter continue to attack and work into the Tigers 22.
Tigers show good skill though to get in and on the ball at the breakdown and wins the ball.
The ball gets run back up to the 22 but the referee calls a knock-on and Exeter have the scrum.
Weathering the Exeter Attack
Tigers defence is being tested as Exeter work their way into the Tigers half but the plays stays around the 10 metre line before a break on the wing from Bodilly has Exeter up to the TIgers 22.
Lots of Kicking
The word of the match at the moment is box kick as Exeter and Tigers exchange box kicks and it's Tigers who kick up field into the Exeter half and Exeter are back on the attack on halfway.
End to end play
It's messy but Exeter win the ball at the lineout, the ball goes out wide before they kick up field.
George Worth makes another good catch and it's Tigers with the ball before a clearing kick goes into touch and it's Exeters lineout on halfway.
Tom Youngs and Greg Bateman are replaced by Tatafu Polota-Nau and Facundo Gigena.
Exeter win a penalty at the scrum and kick for a lineout on halfway.
The Tigers crowd are calling for a late tackle on Noel Reid the referee says it's fine so we play the knock-on and it is Exeters scrum just outside their 22.
What a run
Tigers have the ball at the restart and it gets out wide to Jonah Holmes who makes a great run on the far wing to get back up to half-way and it's all Tigers as they continue to work into the Exeter half.
Tigers get into the Exeter 22 and look to get the ball out wide but Noel Reid struggles as goes low for ball and looks to have hurt himself and the ball is called a knock-on.
As Reid gets treatment the referee is called by the TMO to check the tackle on Noel Reid.
Sam Harrison is replaced by Ben White.
Noel Reid makes no mistake and adds the three points as he lands the penalty kick.
Dave Dennis is off for a HIA and Lewis Pearson is on.
Tigers continue to attack the Exeter half and with a penalty advantage Sam Harrison tries a cross field kick to Jonah Holmes on the wing but it goes straight into touch.
We go back for the advantage and we point to the posts.
The captain gets the ball the at the llineout and it's Tigers on the attack again in the Exeter half.
Tigers in Possession
Tigers keep possession of the ball from the lineout and build some good phases as we attack the Exeter half and a chip through from Noel Reid is beautifully picked up Jordan Olowofela before he's tackled.
Another kick from Noel Reid just finds touch in Exeters 22.
Turnover for Tigers
Tigers continue to get tested in defence but the referee blows his whistle for a penalty as Exeter get back up in a tackle and Tigers kick for the lineout inside Exeters half.
Not to plan
Exeters lineout looks to not go to plan but they keep the ball and work the ball at Tigers 22 metre line.
Exeter with the ball
Exeter run the ball from the scrum and get the ball up to their 10 metre line before the referee calls Tigers offside and Exeter kick for the lineout on Tigers 22.
It's an awkward kick and it's messy as both teams try to take the ball but it's Tigers who are deemed to have knocked-on and it's Exeters scrum.
Noel Reid kicks us off for the second-half here at Welford Road.
Back on the pitch
The teams are back out on the pitch and we are ready for kick-off for the second-half.
Tigers 17 Exeter 7
Showing his speed
Tigers go wide and quick as the ball is out to Jonah on the wing before being passed back into Olowofela who shows some speed and runs into the Exeter half but the referee calls the pass forward and blows his whistle for the end of the first-half.
Exeter catch the ball and go to make a driving maul but the ball is dropped, Tigers have the advantage but the ball is knocked on as it is ripped in a tackle and Tigers have the scrum.
It's messy at the back of the scrum as Sam Harrison is caught with the ball but Tigers keep hold of the ball and kick clear to touch.
Exeter go quick with the ball at the lineout but it's messy ball at the breakdown and theirs a knock-on from Exeter for a Tigers scrum inside our 22.
Tigers almost have the ball out the base of the scrum but the referee calls a penalty for Exeter and they go for another lineout just inside our 22.
Exeter go for the high ball and it's George Worth who makes a good catch and the ball goes out wide.
It looks like Olowofela has found Kyle Eastmond in space but there's a fumble of the ball and the referee calls a knock-on and an Exeter scrum on halfway.
Exeter strong from the lineout
It's all Exeter from the lineout as Tigers knock-on a high kick and Exeter continue to attack Tigers on the halfway.
Tigers get the ball out the back of the scrum and Sam Harrison gets the ball out to Noel Reid who makes a great kick into touch for an Exeter lineout on their 22.
The referee is not happy with the front rows and we have a reset scrum.
Tigers get the ball
Exeter get the ball at the lineout but as the ball goes out wide it is messy ball and Exeter knock-on for a Tigers scrum on our 10 metre line.
Greg Holmes is replaced by Marcus Street.
It's a lineout steal for Tigers as Calum Green gets his hands to it.
Tigers clear the ball and it's an Exeter lineout back on our 10 metre line.
Will Spencer is replaced by Harry Wells.
Tigers are on the defensive as Exeter continue to build phases and attack the Tigers half but we are called back for an offside call and Exeter have the penalty.
Exeter kick for the lineout in Tigers 22.
Some interesting play
It's back and forth from the restart with some physical tackles going in. A high kick is challenged in the air but the referee plays on as Exeter attack Tigers 22 but Tigers get a turnover.
The ball is kicked up field and it's Exeter on the attack again into the Tigers half.
Noel Reid lines up the conversion and it's straight between the posts to make it 17-7.
It's good hands on show for Tigers as they work the ball out of the driving maul and the handling gets the ball from one wing to the other and back out wide, with a long pass out to Jonah Holmes in space to run in for the try.
Tigers with the turnover
Tigers show strong defence and push Exeter back from the lineout to their 10 metre line despite the phases and there's a a quick tackle at the breakdown and Tigers pounce to get on the ball and win a turnover.
Tigers kick to touch and get the turnover on the Exeter 22.
Exeter Scrum holds
Exeter show their power in the scrum and win a penalty, kicking to touch for a lineout on halfway.
Driving the ball
Tigers create the driving maul push forward before they ship the ball out wide where George Worth passes to Jonah Holmes but he is tackled deep in the Exeter 22.
Tigers continue to attack but the ball goes loose and Exeter have a scrum inside their 22.
Tigers get the penalty
Tigers win a penalty as Exeter are penalised in open play with crossing as they try to pass out wide.
Tigers kick for a lineout on the Exeter 22 line.
Back to 15
Tigers clear their lines from the restart for an Exeter lineout on our 10 metre line and Noel Reid returns from the sin bin.
Tigers down a man and kicker in Noel Reid have George Worth who steps in to take the conversion but the ball falls short to keep the score at 10-7.
The forwards will probably claim this try as they continued to build phases at the tryline before the ball pops out the ruck and is shipped out wide to the other wing and Jordan Olowofela is the man to run it in, in the corner.
Advantage for Tigers
Tigers have the advantage as the referee calls hands in the ruck from Exeter as Tigers inch closer to the tryline.
Tigers attack the line
Tigers run the ball from the back of the scrum and attack the Exeter tryline with phase after phase.
Both teams have a go at the running the ball as it stays in play from the restart and both teams attack around the half-way line before Tigers win a turnover at the breakdown, a chip ahead and it is nearly a try for Tigers but Exeter carry the ball over the line for a Tigers scrum 5 metres out.
Exeter add the conversion through Harvey Skinner to make it 5-7.
TRY FOR EXETER
Exeter build phases from the lineout and build their way closer and closer to the try line before Jacques Vermeulen crashes over the line under the posts.
Exeter on the attack
Exeter kick to the corner from the penalty and go for a lineout 5 metres out from Tigers tryline.
Yellow Card Tigers
Tigers looking strong in defence and earn a turnover but the referee goes back for the high tackle and after a look by the referees they signal for a yellow card for Tigers Noel Reid.
The first scrum of the match goes to Exeter and after a reset the ball is shipped out wide and Exeter has the advantage as there is a call for a high tackle as Exeter attack the Tigers 22.
Tigers looking good in defence and keeping the pressure on in defence as there's a loose ball at the breakdown but the referee calls for a knock-on and Exeter have the scrum just inside the Tigers half.
Ball stays in play
Tigers clear their lines from the restart but the ball stays in play so it's a test for Tigers defence as Exeter attack Tigers half of the pitch.
Noel Reid steps up for his first kick in Tigers colours but the ball drifts wide to keep the score at 5-0.
Tigers create a driving maul from the lineout and after gaining some yards the ball is passed out wide to the backs and Jordan Olowofela shows good hands on the wing before offloading to Andy Forsyth, who finds Guy Thompson on his inside to run in the first score of the match.
One wing to the other
Exeter are quick with the lineout and get the ball out wide on the opposite wing but the ball goes loose and gets knocked into touch for a Tigers lineout.
Early Tigers Phases
Tigers have a few early phases from the kick-off before Sam Harrison clears the ball into touch for a Exeter lineout in their half.
WE HAVE KICK-OFF
Exeter get us underway here at Welford Road.
Here come the teams
Exeter are out on the pitch followed by Tigers lead out by club captain Tom Youngs and we are ready for kick-off.
Nearly time for Kick-off
The team's have finished their warm-ups and we are just minutes away from kick-off.
Great to see members of the TigersFamily already here for tonight's game.
If you are joining us at Welford Road today, why not check out what's new around the ground ahead of kick-off.
More information on the changes at Welford Road can be found by clicking here.
IT'S FINALLY HERE
Welcome back to Welford Road for the first home game of the 2019/20 season as we host Exeter Chiefs in Round 2 of the Premiership Rugby Cup.