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Tigers | Route to the semi-finals

Leicester Tigers travel to Toulon this weekend in the semi-finals of the European Challenge Cup. Here's a look at how they qualified for the last four.

Round 1

Jonah Holmes ran in four tries as Tigers got their European campaign off to a perfect start with a 41-20 victory over Pau.

Early scores from George Worth and Holmes put Tigers in a commanding position in the club’s first-ever appearance in the competition and, when Holmes added his second, the lead reached 24-13 at half-time.

Pau went into the game in third place in the French Top14 and showed their attacking threat as they stayed in the contest before Holmes completed his treble early in the second half and he added a fourth with 10 minutes remaining.

World Cup finalists George Ford, Ben Youngs, Dan Cole, Ellis Genge and Manu Tuilagi made their first appearance of the season while Jaco Taute came off the bench for his Tigers debut.

Round 2

A Tom Hardwick penalty with the last kick of the game secured a 14-11 victory over Cardiff Blues and supplied just rewards for a hugely energetic performance from a young team at the Arms Park.

Ellis Genge made his first start of the season and Ben White took the captaincy among 13 academy graduates in the matchday squad.

With Pau beating Calvisano to move level on points with Tigers and the Blues before kick-off in Wales and the visitors trailed 11-8 at half-time despite Jordan Coghlan’s first try for the club.

But Tigers defended valiantly as Hardwick was able to kick the scores level on the hour and then added the match-winning kick after Nephi Leatigaga’s intervention at the breakdown.

Round 3

Nine tries in a 59-7 victory over Calvisano kept Tigers on top of Pool 5 on the day the club paid tribute to record appearance-holder David Matthews.

A try bonus point was secured inside the opening 20 minutes with scores from Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May (2) and man-of-the-match award winner Sam Lewis.

Tommy Reffell, Adam Thompstone and Jake Kerr added further tries as Tigers led 45-7 on the hour on the way to the club’s 25th victory over Italian opposition.

Noel Reid ran in the eighth and Telusa Veainu added one more in the last minute as Tigers became the first English team to win the opening three rounds in the Challenge Cup since 2002.

Round 4

On a tough afternoon in testing conditions in Italy, Tigers beat Calvisano 20-13 at the Pata Stadium.

Snow and ice hit the region all week, but matchday dawned in bright sunshine and Tigers got off to a perfect start with Freddie Steward’s first try for the club after one minute’s play.

They added only a three-pointer from Tom Hardwick in the remainder of a disjointed half and had to withstand spells of pressure in the second half until Andy Forsyth scored after the hosts had lost lock Davide Zanetti to a red card on the hour. Nephi Leatigaga added his first try for the club in the closing five minutes.

Calvisano claimed the final score of the game, but Tigers sat five points clear of second-placed Cardiff Blues in the pool.  

Leicester Tigers v Cardiff Blues
Ellis Genge attacks the Blues defence in the win which secured a quarter-final place

Round 5

A place in the quarter-finals was secured with a round to spare following a 30-20 victory over Cardiff Blues at Welford Road.

Joe Batley and Rory Hughes made their Tigers debuts in a to-and-fro contest as the Blues got off to a flying start with an early try from Josh Adams.

The visitors led 14-10 at half-time, but Tigers registered tries from academy graduates Sam Lewis, Jordan Olowofela and Ben White, with George Ford landing two drop goals – one from 40 metres – to provide extra breathing space on the scoreboard.

Round 6

Tigers suffered a first defeat of their European season in Pau but the bonus point in a 24-17 result gained from a Tom Hardwick penalty in the dying seconds booked a home quarter-final.

Pau knew that only a win at the Stade du Hameau would give them a say in the knockout stages and they made a perfect start with two converted tries in the opening six minutes before Tigers steadied the ship with a Noel Reid score.

But Pau added a third try just a minute before half-time when Tigers were down to 14 men after George Worth’s yellow card and the visitors trailed 24-7 at the break.

Captained for the first time by Manu Tuilagi, Tigers had to wait until the hour mark for a try by Ben White, when Pau lost a man to the sin-bin but somehow sent on a replacement and continued with 15 men before the situation was rectified.

Ben Smith had what Pau thought was a bonuns-point try disallowed and White went close again before Tigers eventually won a scrum penalty and Hardwick safely landed his kick from 40 metres with just 10 seconds left on the clock.


The quarter-final meeting with Castres Olympique, scheduled for Welford Road last Sunday, was cancelled at less than 36 hours’ notice on health grounds after positive tests within the visitors’ camp. The decision from tournament organisers EPCR was for Castres to forfeit the game and Tigers were given passage into the semi-finals.