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Tigers through to Premiership 7s Finals

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Leicester Tigers booked a place in the finals of the Premiership Rugby Sevens for a second successive year with wins in two out of three games at The Northern Echo Arena in Darlington on Friday evening.

Tigers, tournament runners-up 12 months ago, recovered from defeat by Newcastle Falcons to record wins over London Welsh and Sale Sharks to claim the second qualifying place behind their hosts from the North-East.
Tigers were captained by George Catchpole, who was a member of the England Under-20s squad that won the Junior World Championship this summer and shared in the club’s run to the final of last season’s Premiership Sevens. George Tresidder, Jake Farnworth and David Williams also returned after being part of the squad in 2013, while trialist Andy Bulumakau was part of the Gloucester line-up that won last season's tournament.

Tigers took just 30 seconds to get off the mark in the opening fixture against Newcastle, with Bulumakau breaking through from his own half for a score converted by Oli Bryant.
Falcons fought straight back with a try from Chris Harris and skipper Tom Catterick then appeared to add a second but was denied by a whistle for a knock-on as he reached for the line.
A break from Tomi Jones provided the second try for Leicester, with skipper Catchpole adding the finish and the extras to make it 14-5 approaching half-time.
But Andy Davies made the most of turnover ball for Falcons to score and convert in the final action of the half, cutting the Tigers lead to two points.
Catterick provided the opening points after he restart and gave Falcons the lead for a first time before adding the conversion for a 19-14 advantage.
Tresidder, though, darted away to score for Tigers from turnover ball and added the conversion for a 21-19 advantage.
But Falcons snatched victory when Catterick latched on to a penalty 30 metres out and beat the defence and score. Simon Hammersley added the conversion for the final points of the game.
Bulumakau started the second fixture, against London Welsh, as he had started the first, with another solo run to the tryline from well inside the Tigers’ half of the field.
Chris Levesley replied with a dive in under the posts and the conversion gave the Exiles the lead.
Former Tigers wing Will Hurrell thought he’d extended that lead in the last action of the half, but Josh Fowles tracked back to make the tackle and held up the Exiles man over the tryline.
Fowles also had the first word in the second period, taking possession wide on the right in his own half before beating Hurrell on the outside and running clear to sore for a 10-7 lead.
Hurrell, though, supplied the finishing touch to regain the lead for Welsh after a sweeping attack with just 90 seconds remaining and Jonno Woodward’s conversion put them 14-10 ahead as Tigers appeared to be heading for a second defeat.

But a young team showed a lot of patience in possession from the restart before Dan Rundle took over on the left and accelerated through the Welsh defence to score under the posts with time almost up. Bryant’s conversion sealed a 17-14 win.

Tigers knew that defeat against Sale Sharks would end their hopes of reaching the finals but, despite trailing early on, they claimed the bonus-point triumph which kept them in the frame to qualify.
Sharks claimed a try from George Beal, but Tresidder replied with an eye-catching score, taking possession on the Tigers 10-metre line and showing vision and pace to break through, with a step past the final defender and a run clear to the line.
His conversion gave Tigers the lead, but Nathan Fowles replied instantly for Sale with an impressive try, despite a valiant effort from Phil Woodhead to tackle him just short of the line.
With the clock well beyond the seven-minute mark, skipper Catchpole managed to spin out of a tackle wide on the right and had the strength and pace to go through a gap to score. His conversion provided a 14-12 lead at half-time.
Tigers began the second period in similar style, with Josh Fowles fending off a defender to run in on the right and stretch the lead to seven points before David Williams added the bonus-point score and then Rundle finished on the left for a crucial 31-12 win.
When Newcastle then beat London Welsh to make it three wins out of three, the Falcons topped the pool and confirmed a runners-up spot and a place in the finals for Tigers.
Tickets for the Premiership Rugby 7s Series Final on Friday, 8 August at the Twickenham Stoop are now on sale at premiershiprugby.com/7s

Qualifiers: Newcastle Falcons, Leicester Tigers, Harlequins, Northampton Saints, Gloucester Rugby, London Irish, Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons
Group D Results: Newcastle Falcons 26 Leicester Tigers 21, London Welsh 17 Sale Sharks 14, Leicester Tigers 17 London Welsh 14, Newcastle Falcons 29 Sale Sharks 7, Leicester Tigers 31 Sale Sharks 12, Newcastle Falcons 14 London Welsh 5
Premiership Sevens squads
Leicester Tigers: 1 Will Owen, 2 Jake Farnworth, 3 Tomi Jones, 4 George Catchpole (c), 5 Rhys Williams, 6 George Tresidder, 7 Josh Fowles, 8 Andy Bulumakau, 9 Phil Woodhead, 10 David Williams, 11 Oli Bryant, 12 Dan Rundle

London Welsh: 1 Aaron Myers (c), 2 Gerhard Wessels, 3 Ben Frankland, 4 Sam Egerton, 5 Chris Levesley, 6 Jono Woodward, 7 Watisoni Vakalutulaki, 8 Jamel Chisholm, 9 Austin Beckett, 10 Johnny Wehbe, 11 Hamish Smales, 12 Jamie Davies

Newcastle Falcons: 1 Sean Brown, 2 Tom Catterick (c), 3 Andy Davies, 4  Chris Harris, 4 Simon Hammersley, 5 Ben Morris, 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Lee Smith, 8 Dan Temm, 9 Brian Tuilagi, 10 Craig Willis         

Sale Sharks: 1 Liam Parfitt, 2 Tahir El Mahdi, 3 John O'Donnell, 4 James Mitchell, 5 Tim Jeffers, 6 Ciaran Parker, 7 George Nott, 8 Tom Bell, 9 Nathan Fowles, 10 Sam Bedlow, 11 Mark Lawrence, 12 George Beal