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Rugby News

Preview | Tigers travel to take on Bristol

Leicester Tigers travel to take on league leaders Bristol Bears as the Gallagher Premiership season reaches its halfway point this weekend.

The Bears have won seven times in the opening 10 rounds and sit three points clear of defending champions Exeter Chiefs at the top, though both sides dropped points last weekend as London Irish fought back to draw with Bristol while Chiefs were beaten by a single point at home to Northampton.

Bristol completed a league double over Tigers last season, winning at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in January 2020 and scoring a comprehensive victory in the return in a midweek fixture during the restart phase.

Leicester’s last win over the Bears was in April 2019, when George Ford kicked five penalties and Jordan Olowofela scored the only try in a 23-20 triumph on home turf.

Tigers have won one of the club’s four previous visits to Ashton Gate, during November 2016 when Ellis Genge was a scorer against his hometown team.

Genge is among four Tigers on England duty against Wales on Saturday, alongside fly-half Ford, Ben Youngs and George Martin. Among their colleagues in the Red Rose team this weekend are Bristol trio Kyle Sinckler, Ben Earl and Max Malins.

The Bears are also without Semi Radradra and former Tigers hooker Harry Thacker due to injury.

Joe Joyce returns to Bristol’s starting line-up after recovering from a shoulder injury and Alapati Leiua replaces the suspended Sam Bedlow at centre.

Steve Borthwick recalls Tom Youngs to captain Tigers, lining up in a pack which also includes Nephi Leatigaga, Tommy Reffell and Tomas Lavanini. There are call-ups for Cameron Henderson and Ollie Chessum, while Joaquin Diaz Bonilla joins Jack Van Poortvliet at half-back and Guy Porter returns to the backline.

Kick-off is at 1.00pm on Saturday ahead of the Six Nations action as Italy host Ireland and then Wales face England.

Bristol have lost just once in Gallagher Premiership Rugby since the opening round, against Sale Sharks earlier this month, and their only other home defeat in any competition this season was to Clermont Auvergne in the European Champions Cup in December.

Overall, the clubs have met on 185 previous occasions with Leicester winning 95 to 81 by Bristol and nine games drawn.

Referee on Saturday is Christophe Ridley, in his 34th Premiership appointment.

Tigers will wear the club’s green, white and red colours at Ashton Gate this weekend.

There is live coverage of the game on BT Sport Extra 2. Or keep in touch throughout the weekend with the club’s website, app and social media, including Matchday Live from the stadium.

Elsewhere in Round 11:

Friday: Sale Sharks v Exeter Chiefs

Saturday: Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins (3.00pm) Wasps v London Irish (3.00pm) Gloucester Rugby v Worcester Warriors (3.15pm)

Sunday: Northampton Saints v Bath Rugby (1.00pm)