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London Irish 6 Leicester Tigers 12: Tigers battle way to Premiership victory


Leicester Tigers gained a hard-fought 12-6 win over London Irish.

Nine first-half points from the boot of Freddie Burns were added to by a penalty from replacement David Mele in the second period.

Tigers were never behind in the game after Burns had kicked them ahead in the fifth minute and their scrum was on top all day long.

Yet, Irish improved after the break and they had the better of the second half, forcing the visitors into a disciplined

rearguard defensive action that was led from the front by skipper Jordan Crane on his 200th appearance for the club.

A late change to the Exiles line-up meant former Tigers Academy product Alex Lewington came in on the wing as one of five Leicester old boys in the home side's squad.

Leicester lost the opening kick-off but a good defensive set forced a knock-on and Niki Goneva nearly broke free in open space, but for a telling tackle.

Tigers opened the scoring through Burns, as he nailed a 40-metre penalty but the 24-year-old missed from almost exactly the same position moments later.

Leicester's solid start kept them on top in testing overhead conditions.

Burns missed another penalty from almost exactly the same position but then landed a smartly-taken drop goal from the 22 as Tigers pressed once more.

The Exiles enjoyed their first proper attack of the game on 14 minutes, only for Jamie Gibson's work at the breakdown to force a "holding on" penalty against them.

Another Burns penalty stretched Tigers' lead to 9-0 on 21 minutes and they seemed completely in control with the penalty count 6-0 in their favour.

Irish got on the board through the boot of Shane Geraghty after 28 minutes and Irish enjoyed a good spell of pressure as Leicester's defence held firm.

Yet, when the Exiles pack was penalised yet again, referee Wayne Barnes sent tight-head prop Geoff Cross to the sin-bin for repeated offences.

Tigers were unable to make the most of their man advantage though as Burns missed two long-range kicks in the final five minutes of the half to keep it 9-3 at the break.

It was Burns' last action of the game, after a bang to the head led to him failing concussion protocol during the interval.

He was substituted by Mele at half-time but the part-time 10 spent the early stages of the second half defending as Irish imposed themselves.

Tigers suffered painfully slow ball from the ruck and static lines of attack, which welcomed the home side on to them and Geraghty closed the gap to 9-6 on 51 minutes.

The visitors finally found some momentum around a series of pick-and-goes around the ruck, which ended in a penalty that Mele landed for a 12-6 lead.

However, the turgid nature of proceedings continued.

Tigers were physically on top but only gained a yard at a time keeping the ball safe and tight in contact.

Irish dominated a tense final 10 minutes. A crucial "holding on" call ended one move a metre short of the line and then Leicester won a big penalty in the scrum on their own 22 to enable them to clear more danger and hang on until the whistle. 

London Irish 6 Leicester Tigers 12: Tigers battle way to Premiership victory

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