Leicester Tigers scored six tries in a 41-26 victory over London Irish in the Premiership Rugby Cup on Tuesday evening.
The win at Mattioli Woods Welford Road took Tigers back to the top of Pool 2, ahead of Newcastle Falcons who play their last game at Northampton on Wednesday.
Tigers had to come from behind twice in the first half to lead 17-14 at the break following scores by Bryce Hegarty, Hosea Saumaki and then Juan Pablo Socino in the last play of the half.
In the second period, Hegarty scored again and Charlie Clare added a double - though the first was initially credited to Sean Jansen - as Tigers made it three wins from four in the tournament.
Just two days after a league trip to Exeter, Tigers announced a fresh matchday 23 with three debutants in the starting line-up and three more waiting among the replacements. Olly Robinson, who also missed the trip to Newcastle in Round 3 for the birth of his child, led Tigers out as captain in his first starting appearance after four games as a replacement.
Joe Browning, Lewis Chessum and Emeka Ilione were the three debutants in the starting line-up among 11 Tigers Academy graduates in the matchday squad against an Irish squad which included former Tigers duo Noel Reid and Facundo Gigena.
Irish arrived at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on top of Pool 2 as the only team with three five-point wins from their three games
Only the three pool winners are guaranteed a place in the semi-finals, with the highest-ranked second place joining them for the midweek knockout rounds next month.
The opening points of the evening came after just three minutes when Irish full-back Henry Arundell finished an attack on the left to score for a second time here this month and Reid converted.
But Tigers were level on 10 minutes with Hegarty converting his own score.
The opportunity came from a lineout on the right and, although Tigers lost control of the ball, it was scooped up by Clare and played along the backline to the left where full-back Hegarty added the finish and then the conversion.
Irish threatened again as they built possession almost within reach of the line but, after Dan Lancaster wrapped up Reid, the final push for the line was held up and they were foiled again when a break clear on the right was halted by the whistle for a forward pas.
A charge through midfield by Juan Pablo Socino gave Tigers some impetus in attack, with Hosea Saumaki almost wriggling free on the left touchline and Sam Edwards darting from a ruck, but Irish pushed play back towards the touchline and cleared when Tigers were penalised contesting ball again.
Irish almost did the same on their left, but Kini Murimurivalu stepped in with a valuable tackle and Lancaster picked off the offload to drill the ball back upfield.
Set-piece ball gave Irish the chance to drive 10 metres forward on the right and when Tigers were penalised on the floor, they chose to go to the left corner with the kick, setting up a second try.
A smart move at the lineout put flanker Lucas Brooke in for the score and Reid’s conversion gave them a seven-point lead for a second time on the half-hour.
Lancaster took play back into the opposition 22 with a chip over their back three and they fought hard to keep play there, with Ilione winning a valuable penalty over the ball in front of the posts.
Clare found Ilione with the lineout and then controlled possession up to the five-metre line before Edwards went left and Saumaki was able to hit the line and score in the corner to cut the deficit to two points entering the final five minutes of the half.
From a scrum penalty near halfway, Hegarty planted his kick into the Irish half of the field and, when Tigers went for the drive, the whistle from referee Hamish Smales blew again to provide one final opportunity before half-time and it ended with Socino burrowing through to score after Lewis Chessum’s one-handed take had set up the drive.
Hegarty turned defence into attack at the start of the second period, picking off loose play and kicking upfield, where Saumaki won the chase but was unable to control the bobbling ball.
A lineout drive took Tigers almost up to the line again on the right, but play remained at close quarters and from another lineout, three charges from the forwards took play on until Clare powered over for the bonus-point score and the conversion from Hegarty pushed the lead out to double figures.
Even more quickly followed, with Hegarty’s second of the evening.
It started in his own after Phil Cokanasiga’s electric break ended with the ball flung backwards into Hegarty’s hands and he quickly kicked upfield, running clear to nudge forward towards the tryline and gathering to score his second of the evening before also adding the extras as the score reached 31-14 on 50 minutes.
But the visitors scored their third try as Cokanasiga beat two tacklers to reach out next to the posts and Reid’s conversion brought them back to 31-21.
An immediate response came in the form of another try from Clare on a lineout drive on the right with Lancaster’s conversion going in off the post.
But from the restart Cokanasiga grabbed loose ball and won the race to get his fingertips to it in-goal to score for a second time in a five-minute spell with the score at 38-26.
Big carries up front and quick recycling on the floor put Irish under pressure on their 22 again, but they had to work back when Cokanasiga stepped through a tackle, only for Robinson to win a penalty as he quickly got over ball at a ruck.
The next blow of the whistle brought a penalty on the 10-metre line, wide out on the right, and Lancaster made no mistake after calling for the tee.
Irish chased another score after creating space on the right but Saumaki knocked ball loose as wing Cillian Redmond dived to the right-hand corner. Then Dan Richardson smothered another attack to win a penalty.
Joseph Woodward, Tim Hoyt and Finn Carnduff all got on for the senior debuts as Tigers ensured the victory.
Tigers score six tries in a 41-26 win over previously unbeaten London Irish in the Premiership Rugby Cup pool stages.
Long-range penalty from Lancaster makes it 41-26 on 70mins.
Cokanasiga scores for the second time in 5mins as he chases loose ball in-goal. Reid misses the conversion as Tigers lead 38-26 on the hour.
Conversion from Reid makes it 31-21 on 55min
Irish score their third of the game, Phil Cokanasiga reaching out to score next to the right-hand post.
Hegarty is back on his feet to add the conversion, Tigers lead 31-14.
An amazing score from Hegarty, picking up ball in his own 22, kicking upfield, winning the race, nudging forward towards the line and then diving on it to claim his second of the evening.
Hegarty adds the conversion for a 24-14 lead on 49mins.
Bonus-point score comes from Sean Jansen on his home debut, on 48mins as Tigers lead 22-14.
It is Tigers 17-Irish 14 at the break after tries from Hegarty, Saumaki and Socino.
TRY by Juan Pablo Socino. From a lineout drive. Yes it was. Gives Tigers the lead at 17-14.
Hosea Saumaki scores in the left corner to make it 12-14 on 35mins. Hegarty is off target with the conversion.
Reid converts the try by Lucas Brooke to give Irish a 14-7 lead on 29min.
Lineout move for Irish brings try no2 and gives them the lead again on 28min, 7-12
Hegarty adds the conversion of his own try to level the scores at 7-7 with 11min gone.
Hegarty adds the conversion of his own try to level the scores at 7-7 with 11min gone.
Bryce Hegarty is in on the left for a try to Tigers. 5-7 on 10min.
Noel Reid adds the conversion for Irish who lead 7-0 on 4min
Irish overload attack on the left and score through full-back henry Arundell to claim the evening's first points. 0-5 on 3min
KICK-OFF | Leicester Tigers v London Irish
Dan Lancaster / Noel Reid kicks off with Tigers playing left to right as we look from the dugouts.
After a sunny afternoon, the temperature may have dropped but it remains fine and clear at Mattioli Woods Welford Road as we approach kick-off.
London Irish: 15 Henry Arundell, 14 Cillian Redmond, 13 Will Joseph, 12 Phil Cokanasiga, 11 Michael Dykes, 10 Noel Reid, 9 Hugh O’Sullivan, 1 Allan Dell, 2 Mike Willemse, 3 Ciaran Parker, 4 Chandler Cunningham-South, 5 Jack Cooke (c), 6 Ben Donnell, 7 Lucas Brooke, 8 Josh Smart.
Replacements: 16 Tadgh McElroy, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Luke Green, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Ben Atkins, 21 Caolan Englefield, 22 Jacob Atkins, 23 Alex Harmes.
15 Bryce Hegarty , 14 Joe Browning *, 13 Kini Murimurivalu , 12 Juan Pablo Socino , 11 Hosea Saumaki , 10 Dan Lancaster , 9 Sam Edwards ; 1 Francois van Wyk , 2 Charlie Clare , 3 Will Hurd , 4 Tomiwa Agbongbon , 5 Lewis Chessum *, 6 Emeka Ilione *, 7 Olly Robinson , 8 Sean Jansen 
16 Tom Cowan-Dickie , 17 Dan Richardson , 18 Tim Hoyt *, 19 Finn Carnduff *, 20 Simon Koroiyadi , 21 Jonny Law , 22 Joseph Woodward *, 23 Jacob Cusick 
MATCH PREVIEW | Leicester Tigers v London Irish
London Irish arrive at Mattioli Woods Welford Road as the only team with a perfect record so far in this season's Premiership Rugby Cup.
This is a cross-pool fixture with Irish sitting top of Pool 3 and Tigers in second place in Pool 2 as semi-final places and rankings are to be played for in this last round of the group stages.
The three pool winners and the highest-ranked second-place team across all three pools go into the semi-finals.
Tigers give debuts to Joe Browning, Lewis Chessum and Emeka Ilione alongside the experience of Kini Murimurivalu, Juan Pablo Socino and Olly Robinson. There are three more potential debutants on the bench in a squad which includes 11 Tigers Academy graduates.
Referee is Hamish Smales.
There is no live TV coverage so keep in touch here with Mathchday Live.
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