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Tigers get a first run-out of pre-season period

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Lady Bay Sports Ground staged the opening game of the pre-season programme as Leicester Tigers were beaten 26-19 by Nottingham.

With Meadow Lane unavailable, Nottingham switched the game to West Bridgford and a large travelling support enjoyed the sunshine and the opportunity to watch from close quarters as two tries in the space of five second-half minutes gave the home side victory.
Summer signing Seremaia Bai started at fly-half for Tigers, with Croft, Jordan Crane and Jamie Gibson supplying the experience in the back row. Outside of Bai, centre Javiah Pohe joined Academy wings Rhys and David Williams in a young backline.
Led out by Croft and with the entire first-team squad in attendance on the touchlines, Tigers took just five minutes to open the scoring, with David Williams finishing on the right as the visitors made the most of an overlap. Bai added the conversion in a testing wind.
But Nottingham responded as Tigers were forced to work hard in defence, Campese Ma’afu with one particularly big carry before being taken down by full-back Niall Morris.
After two penalty misses from Nottingham fly-half Will Maisey, the Championship side got on to the scoresheet with a try from turnover ball as scrum-half Alex Smit darted through to score. Maisey’s conversion levelled the scores.
More turnover ball provided a platform for a second Nottingham try as Tigers missed their man at a lineout and the hosts spread the ball wide for Liam O’Neill to score on the right.
The response came in the seconds leading up to half-time after a catch-and-drive led by Croft. No8 Crane carried up towards the line and Fraser Balmain added the final push for the line to dot down and tie the scores at 12-12.
Aniseki Sio, Robert Barbieri and young fly-half Oli Bryant were among the early replacements for Tigers in the second period, with Bai moving to centre, where he continued to be a focal point for Tigers in attack.
But two tries in quick succession delighted the home fans as first, Smit capitalised on a break down the right to claim his second score with a 20-metre race to the line and then O’Neill did likewise finishing in the corner ahead of two defenders as Nottingham led 26-12.
Tigers enjoyed their best spell of the game in the last 20 minutes, with Croft and Bai leading the charge but referee Wayne Barnes ruling that the ball had been held up over the line as Tigers pushed over. A tap penalty from Crane almost put Bai through but, even after losing flanker Tom Calladine to a yellow card, Nottingham held out.
Then, from a close-range scrum, Crane picked up and Sam Harrison darted over to score. The conversion from Bai cut the gap to seven points and, despite useful attacks from Niall Morris, Bryant and the Bai again in midfield, Tigers were unable to convert their final spell of pressure into points.