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New-found foes face each other at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Sunday as Leicester Tigers welcome Connacht Rugby in the Heineken Champions Cup.
The two sides came up against one another in European competition for the first time just last season – in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup, with the Gallagher Premiership side winning 48-32.
Both teams picked up wins in Round 1 last weekend, with Leicester edging out Union Bordeaux-Bègles 16-13 at Stade Chaban-Delmas and Connacht recording a 36-9 home win over Stade Français Paris.
The Pool B clash kicks off at 13:00 (UK & Irish time), and the action can be followed live on BT Sport and beIN SPORTS.
Other key facts:
- Leicester have lost five of their last seven home games in the Heineken Champions Cup (W2), after losing only one of the previous 34 (winning 31 and drawing two); they have lost their last two home games but have never lost more in succession in the competition.
- Connacht have lost their last six away games in the Heineken Champions Cup and have also lost each of their six trips to England in the competition, scoring fewer than 20 points in each of those six games.
- Leicester made more kicks from hand than any other team in the opening round of the Heineken Champions Cup (58), gaining 2,267metres from those kicks – also a round-high total.
- Connacht’s Jack Carty assisted three tries in the opening round of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup, the joint most of any player alongside Racing 92’s Finn Russell.
Moving on but 5 more months of passion in the Green & Red 🙌 pic.twitter.com/f49ku6y4po
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 16, 2021
Connacht head coach Andy Friend: “They’re looking pretty strong this year, with ten wins from ten. We’ll be turning up against a team at Welford Road who are full of confidence, with a game style that is currently working for them. We’re going to have to be ready for that, which we will be, and see if we can counter it in some way.”
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Leicester Tigers recorded their second win in two Heineken Champions Cup games this season as they toiled to a 29-23 win over Connacht Rugby at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Sunday.
The hosts, who edged out Union Bordeaux-Bègles in Round 1 last weekend, needed another dogged display to overcome a Connacht side who led at half time.
The Irish province, fresh from their opening round win over Stade Francais Paris, caused the Gallagher Premiership leaders problems as fly-half Jack Carty tallied 18 points.
The excellent Carty got Connacht off the mark with four minutes played as he nudged a penalty, with Leicester ill-disciplined during the opening exchanges.
But Tigers enjoyed a prolonged period of pressure with around 20 minutes played and were rewarded when scrum-half Ben Youngs picked out hooker Nic Dolly down the blind side, who dived over in the corner.
🐯 @LeicesterTigers came from behind to maintain their 100% record this season 💪
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 19, 2021
And they would notch a second try in quick succession as full-back Bryce Hegarty crossed after centre Matt Scott did brilliantly to hold onto a loose ball and kick through.
Fly-half Freddie Burns, who missed the first conversion and then a penalty, added the extras to put the home side 12-3 up.
Connacht were undeterred, however, and hit back on 27 minutes as winger John Porch spotted a gap and benefited from a lovely Bundee Aki offload to burst over the line, Carty’s conversion reducing the deficit to two points.
Handling errors littered Leicester’s game over the remainder of the half, and Carty would punish them for one just before half time as he scooped up following a stray pass and ran from inside his own half to score. He added the extras to send the visitors into the break 19-12 up.
Leicester struggled to gain a foothold after the break with Carty kicking another penalty, but the momentum swung in their favour as they switched their entire front row on 50 minutes, with Julian Montoya, James Whitcombe and Dan Cole all coming on.
"Connacht are a really well-coached team."
"We've got some good young players who are pushing hard!"
Steve Borthwick's @LeicesterTigers are getting used to that winning feeling…
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 19, 2021
The refreshed pack began bossing the scrum, with Connacht prop Finlay Bealham sent to the sin bin after his side conceded a string of penalties close to their line.
Leicester were ruthless as they exploited their numerical advantage – Freddie Steward went over moments later, before Hosea Saumaki’s try gave them the lead and secured their bonus point on 62 minutes.
A Bryce Hegarty penalty on 70 minutes eased the pressure as Leicester moved 29-20 clear, but Carty would have the final say as he cleverly slotted a drop-goal in the last action of the game to hand Connacht a losing bonus point.
Leicester are now third in Pool B on nine points with Connacht sitting fourth, three points adrift. The two sides go head-to-head again on January 15, with Connacht hosting the Round 3 encounter.