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Match report: Tigers off to winning start in cup

Leicester Tigers opened their defence of the Anglo-Welsh Cup title with a 26-24 victory over Gloucester Rugby at Welford Road on Saturday.

Charlie Thacker’s first senior try gave Tigers the breakthrough in the first half but they had to come from 8-10 down to lead 14-10 at half-time with fly-half Joe Ford providing the rest of the points.

Jonah Holmes, with a score in his first senior appearance since his summer move from Yorkshire Carnegie, stretched that advantage in the third quarter before two tries in six minutes from Gloucester gave the visitors the lead, the second coming after lengthy consultation between the officials regarding a possible forward pass just 10 metres from the Tigers tryline.

Tigers trailed again entering the last 10 minutes before Adam Thompstone provided a score on his return to the team and survived when visiting fly-half Lloyd Evans missed a late penalty to get their cup campaign off to a winning start.

The clubs were meeting for the 220th time in more than 125 years of rivalry, and with Gloucester ahead by 106 to 105 in terms of wins ahead of kick-off.

Both teams made significant changes to their squads after important league victories a week earlier, with Tigers giving debuts to Holmes, Afa Pakalani, Harry Simmons and Sam Lewis in the starting line-up. Jake Kerr and Chris Baumann also made their club debuts as second-half replacements while development squad trio Tommy Reffell, Tom Hardwick and Jordan Olowofela were included in the matchday squad for the first time.

Gloucester included a pair of Tigers academy graduates in skipper Charlie Beckett and centre Tom Hudson, with the latter able to make his return with a try.

The visitors kicked off and had the first opportunity with a penalty from the first scrum of the game, but fly-half Lloyd Evans kicked wide from the tee.

Pakalani earned the backing of the home crowd with a big hit on scrum-half Ben Velllacott who had broken free from his own 22, and Tigers gave the crowd more to cheer as a chip by Simmons gave Thompstone something to chase as they turned up the pressure in the Gloucester 22.

Thompstone was again involved on the right when Holmes was stopped just short, but when ball was recycled, Thacker wrestled his way to the tryline in the left-hand corner for the opening points of the afternoon.

The referee consulted his assistant and the TMO before awarding the score, checking if Thacker had been held in a tackle, giving skipper Ford the conversion attempt from out wide, but he pushed it across the face of the posts.

Evans got Gloucester on the board with a penalty on 16 minutes, but Ford responded with a kick from 30 metres to make it 8-3 on 23 minutes.

Gloucester took the lead for the first time in the afternoon when Evans then converted a try from prop Paddy McAllister who dived over at the foot of the right-hand post after a number of phases of possession from the forward pack just short of the line.

Thacker threatened to exploit a gap in the midfield on the edge of the Gloucester 22, but the offload just failed to stick with Fred Tuilagi arriving on his shoulder. Gloucester, though, failed to clear the loose ball as they were determined to keep play alive rather than kick, allowing Tigers to remain in their territory.

At the next stoppage, Tigers were awarded a penalty after a big push in the scrum 30 metres out and Ford knocked over the kick to regain the lead at 11-10 with 36 minutes played.

Thacker was again heavily involved as Tigers ended the half in the visitors' 22, carrying on three separate occasions as the home side looked for a breakthrough before play was brought back for a penalty on the right just five metres shy of the tryline.

With the clock already beyond the 40-minute mark, Ford called for the tee and kicked to make the score 14-10 at half-time.

There was a lengthy stoppage in the early exchanges of the second period when Freddie Clarke stayed down after a heavy collision with Tuilagi but the Gloucester No8 earned warm applause when he managed to walk off and play restarted with a Tigers scrum 15 metres out from the posts

A solid platform from the forwards created an opportunity on the right but Thacker’s pass was spilled by Pakalani just a few metres out on the right-hand side.

Gloucester, though, still struggled to play their way out of their own 22 and Tigers scored a second try as Holmes ran in a debut score.

After attacking on the left, ball was recycled centrally and George Worth timed his inside pass perfectly for Holmes to run through and dot down. Ford added the extras for a 21-10 lead.

The Cherry and Whites were finding it increasingly difficult to escape from their own half, but finally gained field position and the opportunity to claim their second try of the afternoon just after the hour mark.

An attacking lineout on the left gave the forwards the chance to wrap up the Tigers defence and a short pass to the blindside gave Vellacott a route to the line. Evans added the conversion as the Tigers lead was cut to 21-17.

And they took the lead for the second time with quarter of an hour left to play, but only after lengthy discussion between referee Craig Evans and the TMO as centre Hudson beat two tacklers to score after latching on to a Vellacott pass. After numerous replays, the officials agreed there had been no proof of a forward pass and the try stood, with Evans adding the conversion to make it 24-21 in the visitors’ favour.

Encouraged by the home crowd, Tigers were quickly back on the offensive, with Tuilagi carrying strongly before spilled ball on the 22 allowed the visitors to clear.

The to-and-fro of the half continued when Thompstone marked his return to the starting line-up with a try on the left with just nine minutes still to play.

Patient work from a lineout on the right and some good handling along the backline provided the chance on the opposite flank and Thompstone, last season’s top try-scorer, finished smartly. Ford was unable to add the extra two points, though, as Tigers led 26-24.

After earlier allowing the Hudson try, the referee earned ironic cheers from a large part of the 18,000 crowd entering the last five minutes when he pulled back play for a forward pass from Gloucester just inside the Tigers half.

But from the scrum, the visitors piled on pressure on the Leicester eight and were rewarded with a penalty, only to see Evans screw it wide of the right-hand post.

Both sides still had half-chances to trouble the scoreboard in the couple of minutes which remained, but a penalty in defence with just seconds left on the clock allowed Tigers to clear up to opposition territory and then scramble into touch to herald the final whistle.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 14-10 GLO

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 26-24 GLO

Attendance

18,408

Referee

Craig Evans

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Gloucester Rugby
Possession
48%
52%
Territory
54%
46%
Penalties Conceded
6
9
Yellow Cards
0
0
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
154/171 90%
120/138 87%
Scrums Won
8/9 89%
8/8 100%
Lineouts Won
10/13 77%
7/7 100%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Gloucester Rugby
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15
14Jonah Holmes1T
13George Worth
12Charlie Thacker1T
11Adam Thompstone1T
10Joe Ford1C3P
9Harry Simmons
1Kyle Traynor
2George McGuigan
3Patrick Cilliers
4Harry Wells
5Dan Tuohy
6Sam Lewis
7Will Evans
8Fred Tuilagi
16Jake Kerr
17Ben Betts
18Chris Baumann
19Joe Maksymiw
20Tommy Reffell
21Ben White
22Tom Hardwick
23Jordan Olowofela
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
26

Full Time

Gloucester Rugby
Gloucester Rugby
24
Leicester Tigers
T
P
P
P
T
C
T
KOHTFT
Gloucester Rugby
P
T
C
T
C
T
C

Commentary

80

Next home game

Tigers are back at Welford Road on Sunday, November 19 for an Aviva Premiership clash with Sale Sharks. The game is on the Tigers season ticket. Match tickets are on sale now. See you there!

80

Spire Man of the Match

Fans have voted Charlie Thacker their Spire Man of the Match. Well done Charlie. And thank you for voting.

It's full-time!

As the muck and bullets are flying around him, Ford keeps his cool to end the game and get Tigers' Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign up and running with a win. Tigers win 26-24.

80

That should be that

With the clock heading into the red zone, Tigers win a penalty as Gloucester go off their feet. Ford pumps his kick into the Gloucester 22. Tigers have one last attack.

78

Last two minutes

Tigers are winding down the clock in the Gloucester half. Knock-on against a tiring Fred Tuilagi. Scrum is 70m from the Leicster line.

76

Penalty missed

... but Lloyd Evans has mishit has kick across the posts and Tigers breathe again. Last three minutes, Tigers lead 26-24.

76

Penalty chance for Gloucester

Tigers come under pressure at a scrum and are pinged as the set-piece splits ...

75

Home cheers

A huge cheer, arguably the biggest of the afternoon, as referee Craig Evans pulls Gloucester back for a forward pass.

73

Tense finish

The try goes unconverted as we head into the final few minutes. It's tense around Welford Road. Come on boys.

Thommo is back!

Try time for Tigers and it's last season's Player of the Year, Adam Thompstone, on his return from injury. Ford and Pakalani held the defence for Thommo to score on the left. Welcome back Thommo!

70

What a kick!

Joe Ford has just launched a penalty from inside his own half to within 5m of the Gloucester line. Cracking kick!

More replacements

Jake Kerr is on for his debut, for McGuigan. Joe Maksymiw also on, for Tuohy.

67

Home fans in full voice

There is a cracking noise around Welford Road now, inspired by the try decision, with the home fans getting right into the game.

Boos around Welford Road

The try is converted and play has resumed, and still the home fans are not happy with that decision to award the try.

Try awarded!

Much to the dismay of the Welford Road crowd, the TMO and referee have awarded the try, even though there was a big hint of a forward pass to put Tom Hudson over.

64

TMO time

Gloucester smash through to score next to the posts but referee Craig Evans consulting his TMO. Is that forward?

Scrum-half change

Tigers change their No9. Ben White on for Harry Simmons.

Tigers replacement

Tigers make their first replacement, Chris Baumann on for his debut in place of Pat Cilliers

Four points in it

Lloyd Evans's conversion cuts the Leicester lead to 21-17. It's going to be a tense final quarter.

Try for the visitors

Gloucester are back in this. The Cherry and Whites control the drive and scrum-half Vellacott peels off to dive over for their second try.

57

Defensive stand

Tigers are pinged for kicking the ball out of a ruck, and Gloucester now have a 5m lineout. Key moment coming up.

55

Who is your man of the match?

Voting is now open for the Spire Man of the Match on the Tigers app. Get voting!

53

Holmes heavily involved

Moments after scoring his try, Holmes teams up with McGuigan to force Will Safe into touch and earn his side a lineout on halfway.

51

More on Holmes's try

Holmes collected Worth's lovely inside ball and stepped through the tackle before powering over from the 22. Lovely finish from the winger.

Ford converts

Ford adds an easy conversion for the full seven points. Tigers lead 21-10.

Try time Tigers

Jonah Holmes on his debut scores his first try for Tigers to put daylight between the teams.

47

Chance goes away

Tigers over-complicate things from the scrum, and Pakalani knocks on Thacker's flicked pass.

46

Play to restart

The game will resume with a Tigers scrum put-in, centre-field, 15m out. 

46

Applause for Evans

A lengthy stoppage with every care being taken over Gareth's well-being. He is sitting up, and now being helped from the pitch. Good to see he is up and walking.

46

Play stopped

Gloucester medics on quickly to treat Gareth Evans after he was hurt tackling Tuilagi. The game has stopped for the moment.

45

Tigers turn up the pressure

Good defence on the Gloucester 22, led by McGuigan and Thacker, forces Vellacott into a knock-on. Tigers have a good attacking position here.

42

Lovely hands

Charlie Thacker has Tigers fans purring with an out-the-back pass to Jonah Holmes. Lovely stuff again from Charlie.

40

Ford kicks us off

Joe Ford, with his brother George watching from the stands, gets the second-half going with Tigers attacking the Mattioli Woods Stand end.

40

We're back out

Tigers are first out for the second-half, followed by our visitors from Gloucester. Tigers lead 14-10.

Half time at Welford Road

It's half-time in this afternoon's Anglo-Welsh Cup clash with Gloucester. Charlie Thacker scored the opening try, his first for the club, and team captain Joe Ford has kicked three penalties.

No problem for Fordy

... Ford makes it look easy again as he slots the kick to extend the Leicester lead.

40

Penalty advantage

Tigers have a penalty advantage ... but they can't make headway and play comes back for the kick. It's a tester from the right to end the half ...

40

Tigers pressure

Tiiigggeeerrrsss rings round Welford Road with Leicester camped on the Gloucester line

37

Boom!

Seismologists might be looking at their instruments after Harry Wells's run is stopped head-on by Ross Moriarty! A shuddering collision.

Tigers lead again

... Ford makes it look easy as he slots the penalty to move Tigers into a one-point lead.

35

Scrum on down

The Tigers pack have Gloucester under all sorts of pressure at that scrum, so much so that No8 Tuilagi struggled to keep control. But it's a penalty and Ford to go for the posts again ...

32

So close

Charlie Thacker punches a hole in the Gloucester defence but Fred Tuilagi can't quite gather the offload. Thacker gets back up to block Vellacott's clearance.

30

A mo-ment from two mo bros

Harry Wells and Paddy McAllister, both sporting Movember moustaches, have a few words in midfield. Sir has a word with both to calm down and mo-ve on!

Gloucester lead

Lloyd Evans lands a simple conversion to give Gloucester the lead for the first time in the contest.

Try for the visitors

Paddy McAllister burrows over from close range to score under the posts for the visitors after a sustained period of pressure on the Leicester line.

It's good from Ford

Fordy lands his kick from a central position to restore Tigers' five-point lead.

20

Penalty chance

Tigers, who lead 5-3 going into the second quarter after Charlie Thacker's first try for the club, have a penalty thanks to the scrum. Ford to go for goal ...

Gloucester penalty

Tigers fans claimed a penalty as Gareth Denman overshoots the ball into a tackler in midfield. Instead, Will Evans is pinged for going off his feet. His Gloucester namesake Lloyd lands the kick for their first points.

14

Kicking on

Ford doesn't let it affect him, instead launches a beautiful kick to force Gloucester into a lineout inside their 22.

13

Conversion missed

Ford pushes his conversion from the left across the posts. Tigers lead 5-0.

It's a try!

Three Gloucester defenders get in each other's way and none grab a hold of Thacker. He scrambles back to his feet to score his first try for Tigers. Well done Charlie!

12

TMO time

... Tigers probe the Gloucester defence and Worth finds Charlie Thacker on the left. He steps inside, is felled but goes again to do down. Referee Craig Evans now consulting his TMO.

11

Attacking platform

Tigers win their own lineout ball for the first time to launch their first real attack ...

10

Cracking defence

Pakalani announces himself to the Crumbie Stand with a huge tackle on Vellacott. Will Evans steals possession and Thompstone forces Penny into a shanked clearance. 

5

Thommo is back!

Adam Thompstone feeds Afa Pakalani for his first touch in a Tigers shirt. Thompstone then chases an up-and-under to take Carwyn Penny man and ball. Good stuff Thommo.

3

Early mistakes

Tigers are pinged for pulling down the scrum giving Evans a shot at goal. But he clubs his kick wide of the posts from 40m out.

2

Welford Road welcome

Dan Tuohy comes flying through the lineout to take scrum-half Ben Vellacott by surprise. Knock-on called against the Tigers lock.

1

Gloucester kick off

Gloucester fly-half Lloyd Evans gets the game going, with Tigers attacking the Robin Hood Stand at the Aylestone Road end of the ground.

We're off

Tigers' defence of the Anglo-Welsh Cup has begun.

0

Perfect silence

Welford Road observes an immaculate silence. Thank you all.

0

Minute's silence

... before falling silent to remember members of the armed forces killed in action.

0

Remembrance

Welford Road stands for the Last Post ...

0

What a roar!

Great noise around Welford Road to greet the Tigers, led out for the first time by Joe Ford. Good luck boys.

0

Here come the Cherry and Whites

Our visitors Gloucster Rugby are led out by Charlie Beckett, who came through the academy at Tigers.

0

Never forgotten

Kick-off this afternoon will follow the playing of Last Post and a minute's silence in remembrance of the armed forces killed in action.

0

Warm-ups are over

Joe Ford leads the Tigers off the pitch for their final preparations before kick-off.

0

Pre-match reading

There's plenty to read on the club website in the run-up to kick-off, including the thoughts of Joe Ford on his first appearance as captain at https://www.leicestertigers.com/news/unexpected-honour-says-skipper-ford

0

YOU CHOOSE MAN OF THE MATCH

In an exciting new addition to the Mobile App experience, we're asking you to decide who is today's Man of the Match. For details on how to vote, head to 'news' section on your Official Tigers App or club website. 

Voting is OPEN from half-time through until the full-time whistle, with the winner announced minutes after the whistle.

0

WELCOME TO WELFORD ROAD

Wherever it is you're joining us from today and on whatever device, mobile app or website, we're glad to have you here with us for this Anglo-Welsh Cup opener!


Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Carwyn Penny
14
Tom Seabrook
13
Andy Symons
12
Tom Hudson
11
Elliott Creed
10
Lloyd Evans
9
Ben Vellacott
1
Paddy McAllister
2
James Hanson
3
Gareth Denman
4
Charlie Beckett
5
Freddie Clarke
6
Ross Moriarty
7
Jake Polledri
8
Gareth Evans

Subs

16
Henry Walker
17
Cameron Orr
18
Jack Bartlett
19
Callum Allen
20
Will Safe
21
Callum Braley
22
Charlie Chapman
23
Reece Dunn

Anglo-Welsh Cup team news: Tigers v Gloucester

Jonah Holmes will run out for the first time with Tigers in a competitive game this Saturday
Jonah Holmes will run out for the first time with Tigers in a competitive game this Saturday

Summer signing Jonah Holmes and Tonga international full-back Atieli Pakalani are in line to make their first appearance for Leicester Tigers in Saturday’s Anglo-Welsh Cup tie with Gloucester Rugby at Welford Road (3.00pm).

Holmes, who had a prolific try-scoring record with Yorkshire Carnegie ahead of his summer switch to Tigers, comes into the backline and Pakalani makes his debut after joining the club.

Adam Thompstone joins them in the back three for the opening game in defence of the trophy won last year. Players’ Player of the Year in 2016/17, Thompstone returned to first-team duty last weekend as a late replacement in the Aviva Premiership win at Newcastle Falcons following a pre-season neck injury.

Tigers also give debuts this weekend to academy graduates Harry Simmons and Sam Lewis, while the bench includes five players yet to make a first-team appearance, including USA international prop Chris Baumann.

Former Scotland Under-20s hooker Jake Kerr is in the matchday squad for the first time since the pre-season fixtures and there is a place for flanker Tommy Reffell who has captained Wales Under-18s this year. Tom Hardwick and Jordan Olowofela, who have played in the Premiership ‘A’ League this season, are also included in a squad for the first time.

George Worth and Charlie Thacker come into the midfield for their first senior outings of the season in a team captained by fly-half Joe Ford.

Front-rowers Kyle Traynor, George McGuigan and Pat Cilliers bring experience to the forward pack and on-loan Dan Tuohy is at lock alongside Harry Wells who was an ever-present in the successful cup run last season. There is a recall for Will Evans, while Fred Tuilagi is given his first game of the season.

Tickets for Saturday are available now. Book in person at the Tigers Store in Highcross Shopping Centre, phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2) or online at www.leicestertigers.com/matchtickets.

Leicester Tigers (v Gloucester Rugby, Welford Road, Saturday 3.00pm)

15 Atieli Pakalani       

14 Jonah Holmes

13 George Worth

12 Charlie Thacker

11 Adam Thompstone

10 Joe Ford (c)

9 Harry Simmons

1 Kyle Traynor           

2 George McGuigan

3 Pat Cilliers   

4 Harry Wells

5 Dan Tuohy  

6 Sam Lewis

7 Will Evans

8 Fred Tuilagi

Replacements

16 Jake Kerr

17 Ben Betts

18 Chris Baumann     

19 Joe Maksymiw

20 Tom Reffell

21 Ben White

22 Tom Hardwick

23 Jordan Olowofela

Gloucester Rugby: 15 Carwyn Penny, 14 Tom Seabrook, 13 Andy Symons, 12 Tom Hudson, 11 Elliott Creed, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Ben Vellacott; 1 Paddy McAllister, 2 James Hanson, 3 Gareth Denman, 4 Charlie Beckett (c), 5 Freddie Clarke, 6 Ross Moriarty, 7 Jake Polledri, 8 Gareth Evans

Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Jack Bartlett, 19 Callum Allen, 20 Will Safe, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Charlie Chapman, 23 Reece Dunn

Leicester Tigers and Gloucester Rugby go into Saturday’s Anglo-Welsh Cup opener on the back of morale-boosting results on league duty last weekend.

Tigers made it five wins in a row in the Aviva Premiership with a 30-13 victory away to Newcastle Falcons last Saturday to move into third place in the league table after seven rounds ahead of the break for cup action, while Gloucester celebrated derby victory at Bath thanks to a late try from Ed Slater and conversion from former Tigers team-mate Owen Williams.

The clubs, who have already met at Welford Road this season on league duty, go head to head for the 220th time since their first encounter more than 125 years ago. Gloucester lead 106-105 in wins during that time, with eight draws.

Their only other previous meeting in the Anglo-Welsh Cup was in October 2011 when Tigers won 40-14 with tries from Dan Cole, Manu Tuilagi, Tom Youngs and Horacio Agulla.

Both teams have made significant changes to their squad for the start of the Anglo-Welsh Cup, with Tigers coach Geordan Murphy handing an opportunity for Joe Ford, Jonah Holmes and Adam Thompstone to gain gametime  while also bringing in a number of development squad players to play in a competitive arena.

Gloucester include Tigers academy graduates Charlie Beckett, who captains the team, and Tom Hudson in their matchday squad.

“It is a big game, it’s at home, it’s Gloucester who have been in decent form and have already won away from home in the league and in Europe this season,” Tigers coach Murphy said. “So it’s for us to put on a performance to represent the Leicester shirt with pride and passion.

“There’s a few of the younger lads in there alongside some of those guys who’ve been around a while and a few coming back from injury.

“The Anglo-Welsh Cup is always competitive. Teams come with the right spirit, it’s a development competition and the opportunity for players to play and progress.”

Murphy, who led Tigers to final victory last season, will be assisted by Boris Stankovich, Brett Deacon and Anthony Allen from the sidelines as Matt O’Connor hands responsibility to the rest of the coaching team this week.

Thompstone, who made his first appearance of the season in the win at Newcastle last weekend after recovering from a neck injury, said: “It’s just great to be back and be with the team again. It’s frustrating when you’re not playing because you want to be out there. Now I just want to get some time on the pitch and go from there.”

Referee for Saturday is Craig Evans of the Welsh Rugby Union.

Form Guide
Leicester Tigers
Form
LLLLL
Last Match
Lost to Racing 11-34
Past Meeting
Lost 13-36
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Gloucester Rugby
Form
WLWWL
Last Match
Lost to Chiefs 17-29
Past Meeting
Won 36-13

Matchday Live

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Leicester Tigers
Gloucester Rugby24
Gloucester Rugby
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