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Rugby News

Preview | Tigers go to Bears on Boxing Day

Leicester Tigers go to Bristol Bears on Sunday to play on a Boxing Day fixture for the first time since 2015.

Last year’s December 26 game at Newcastle Falcons was cancelled due to Covid, though the Tynesiders did provide the opposition the last time Tigers played on this date, six years ago.

On that occasion, Tigers secured a 22-10 home win after coming back from 10-0 down early on. Telusa Veainu provided a reply as the scores were levelled before half-time and then Peter Betham and Laurence Pearce added to the score in the second period.

This weekend Tigers head to Ashton Gate to face the last team to beat them in the Premiership.

After defeat by Bristol at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in June in Round 21 of last season,  Steve Borthwick’s men began an unbeaten run at Wasps the following week and go into the final game of 2021 on top of the Gallagher Premiership table with nine wins from nine games so far.

But Bristol have lost just one of the last six games against Tigers and just one of the five previous meetings at Ashton Gate.

That sole Tigers victory on Bristol turf was in November 2016 when Ellis Genge scored his first Premiership try against his hometown club after Adam Thompstone provided the first-half breakthrough.

Overall the two clubs have met on 187 previous occasions with Leicester winning 95 to Bristol's 83 and nine games drawn.

In team news announced on Christmas Eve, Tigers bring in Nemani Nadolo, Matías Moroni, Harry Potter and George Ford after missing the win over Connacht in the Champions Cup last weekend, and there is start for Marco van Staden in the back row.

Bristol have not played since a 27-10 defeat at Gloucester at the start of December due to the impact of Covid on their fixtures in the Heineken Champions Cup this month.

They have been without a game for the last two weekends as the Bears’ home match against the Scarlets in Europe was cancelled when the Welsh club had a large proportion of their squad in isolation and then they were unable to go to Stade Francais last weekend after the imposition of travel restrictions in France.

The Bears give Fiji international Semi Radradra a first start of the season while Kyle Sinckler and Yann Thomas return to the front row. Former Tigers duo Harry Thacker and Henry Purdy are also named in their matchday squad.

Match referee is Tom Foley, in charge for a 106th time in Premiership Rugby.

Tigers will wear the club’s change colours of white, black and orange at Ashton Gate.

There is live coverage of the game on BT Sport, or keep up to date with events using the club’s Matchday Live service on app and website. And look out for full post-match reaction on the club channels.

Tigers are back on home turf next Sunday (January 2) when Newcastle Falcons are the visitors. Kick-off at Mattioli Woods Welford Road is at 3.00pm and match tickets are available now. Book online or phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2).

Round 11 in full

Sunday: Bristol Bears v Leicester Tigers (2.00pm), Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks (3.00pm), Saracens v Worcester Warriors (3.00pm), Wasps v London Irish (3.00pm), Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby (4.30pm)

Monday: Harlequins v Northampton Saints (5.00pm)