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Rugby News

Preview | Heineken Cup quarter-final

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Leicester Tigers meet Leinster Rugby for the first time since 2011 in the quarter-final of the Heineken Champions Cup at Mattioli Woods Welford Road this afternoon (Saturday, 5.30pm).

Four-time European champions Leinster are led by director of rugby Leo Cullen, who spent two seasons as a player with Tigers and was in the line-up the last time the Irishmen came to Leicester in 2007/08.

They arrive with their place at the top of the United Rugby Championship already assured and are in the knockout stages of this competition for an eighth time in nine seasons.

The Irish province averaged more than 50 points a game in their pool-stage wins over Bath (45-20 at home and 64-7 away) and Montpellier (89-7) before beating Connacht on aggregate in the Round of 16 where wing James Lowe scored six of his eight tries in the tournament this season.

Johnny Sexton and Cian Healy, who played in their four Final victories between 2009 and 2018, are both included in the matchday squad for Saturday.

Cullen, who has been on the coaching team for seven years, is able to recall the bulk of his international names after they sat out the URC fixtures in South Africa over the last two weekends. International lock James Ryan plays for the first time since the Six Nations.

Tigers opened their qualifying campaign with a victory away to Bordeaux-Bègles and then beat Connacht home and away before an awarded win in the return against Bordeaux.

Three-time finalists ASM Clermont Auvergne were then beaten twice in the last 16 to earn a place in the quarter-finals for a 14th time in the club‘s history but the first since 2016.

The Tigers’ record at this stage is won 7, lost 6.

Head coach Steve Borthwick makes one change to the starting line-up that registered a bonus-point league win over Bristol Bears last week as Ollie Chessum joins the forward pack after serving a suspension. Fellow England internationals Nic Dolly and George Martin return to the squad and are named among the replacements.

George Ford, who starts alongside Ben Youngs at half-back, said: “Any team that gets this far in such a big competition deserves to be there and it’s an exciting challenge for us. We’re really looking forward to it against a brilliant side like Leinster.

“They have a quality squad and it’s not about trying to stop one man, we’re coming up against a brilliant team who are good in all areas of the field.

“It’s going to be a battle all over the pitch. We go into it with our plan in mind and then it’s down to being able to adapt on the day.”

The two sides have met on 11 previous occasions with Leinster 6-5 in front on win count including the Final at Murrayfield in 2009 and quarter-final in Dublin two years later.

If scores are level at the end of 80 minutes, extra time is played and there is also provision for a place-kicking competition to find the winner. Click here to find out more.

Tigers will be in the club’s green, white and red with Leinster in blue.

Referee is Mathieu Raynal who heads a French team of officials.

The winners of this quarter-final will face either Munster or Toulouse in the semi-finals next weekend. Their quarter-final kicks off at 3.00pm today and will be shown live on screens at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on the plaza, in Final Whistle and in hospitality areas.

See our Matchday Guide to find out everything you need to know if you are joining us this afternoon.

Match tickets are still available to book online, by phoning 0116 319 8888 (option 2) or in person at the stadium.