Leicester Tigers Development XV secured a first win of the season with a 24-21 victory over Worcester Cavaliers in the Premiership Rugby Shield on Monday evening.
Trailing 14-10 at half-time, with Taylor Gough supplying the try, Tigers took the lead just before the hour mark with George Martin adding a second try to go with the kicked points from Johnny McPhillips.
A second score from Gough moments later allowed the visitors to take that advantage to 10 points against a Cavaliers side unbeaten in their first four fixtures and they held out despite conceding a late penalty try and then two front-rowers to the sin bin.
The home side started the game at a frantic pace at odds with the freezing conditions at Sixways and their robust work in the early phases was met by a stern Tigers line typified by two crucial tackles from Joe Thomas on the fringes.
Worcester kept the pressure on, though, inching up the field to win a scrum in front of the Tigers posts, eventually getting over the tryline through hooker Isaac Miller. Scott van Breda added the conversion with 13 minutes played.
Tigers hit back immediately from the restart, with Johnny McPhillips latching on to a break by scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet. Leicester spread the ball to the left with a neat cross-field kick from McPhillips, where quick hands from the forwards put Taylor Gough over in the corner. The touchline conversion from McPhillips evened up the scores.
More heavy work – with big hits from both teams – followed with Cavaliers eventually breaking through via centre van Breda, who fed No9 Gareth Simpson to dive over. The extras from the tee made it 14-7.
Another strong Tigers scrum on the edge of the home 22 set up a response from McPhillips, whose successful penalty brought Tigers within four points after half an hour.
Freddie Steward’s work under the high ball was the highlight for the remainder of the first period, fielding a barrage of kicks.
McPhillips was short with a 40-metre penalty at the start of the second half though Tigers were still able to build some pressure through the forwards without finding a breakthrough.
Scrum-half Van Poortvliet showed his pace in defence as he raced back to dot down behind the tryline from a kick through by the Warriors with Tigers still four pints in arrears.
A precision kick down the right from a McPhillips penalty gave Tigers an attacking position and another whistle followed as they attacked in front of the posts. After three carries from the forwards on the left, Cameron Jordan was held up over the tryline.
But from the scrum, Tigers kept ball well until Martin attacked the line and forced his way over to give the visitors the lead for the first time on 57 minutes. McPhillips added a conversion with the score at 14-17.
Just two more minutes had elapsed when Tigers added to the score with Gough grabbing his second of the night, finishing from close range after Van Poortvliet had been stopped just short in the left-hand corner. McPhillips again showed his strength from the tee with another two points as the lead reached double figures.
When Tigers were forced back, they defended at a five-metre scrum and then Gough’s work over the ball won a penalty to ease the pressure close to the tryline.
But Cavaliers finally made a breakthrough as the game entered its final minutes, earning a penalty try as they pressured the Tigers line on the right, with Darren Dawidiuk yellow carded for his role in defence.
And Tigers also lost Keston Lines to the sin bin almost immediately afterwards with just three points between the teams but managed to hold out in defence as Cavaliers looked for one more opening.