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Leicester Tigers will be looking to maintain their 100 per cent win record in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup as they welcome Ospreys in Round 4 on Friday night.
The Tigers have already qualified for a knockout spot, sealing it with their impressive 44-29 victory at ASM Clermont Auvergne in Round 3, and are currently level on 13 points with leaders Stade Toulousain and Stade Rochelais in Pool B.
However, Ospreys are poised right behind them, sitting in fifth place on 10 points, after following up their 23-17 home loss to Leicester in Round 1 with a famous double over Montpellier Hérault Rugby.
The match kicks off at 8pm UK and Irish time at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, and can be watched on BT Sport, S4C, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport, and FloRugby.
THE FINAL POOL STAGE ROUND 🚨
And the last chance to qualify…
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 18, 2023
Leicester centre Matt Scott: “It’s a competition we want to do well in. We got to the quarters last year and fell short to Leinster, so we’re taking each game as it comes. It’s a tough game against Ospreys.”
Ospreys head coach Toby Booth: “Going to Welford Road is extremely tough,” he admitted. “A lot of teams are beaten before they get off the bus there. I’ve got a lot of experience of that.”
- Charlie Atkinson has made more cover tackles than any other player (5).
- Leicester have the highest rate of success off the tee in the tournament so far at 95 per cent.
- They have conceded the fewest penalties in the competition (22) and have made the fewest carries (225).
- Adam Beard has won 23 lineouts – more than any other player in the competition.
- Justin Tipuric and Owen Williams have made the most choke tackles in the tournament (7 and 6 respectively). Consequently, the Ospreys have conceded the fewest offloads to date (12).
- Ospreys have conceded the fewest turnovers in the tournament (26).
- They have the most effective lineout this season, winning 93 per cent of their throws.
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Ospreys qualified for the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 as an 88th minute Jac Morgan score, converted by Owen Williams, handed them a 27-26 win at Leicester Tigers on Friday.
Ospreys had earlier crossed through Dewi Lake and Keelan Giles in the Round 4, Pool B contest at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, but trailed by six points heading into the final 10 minutes.
Jack van Poortvliet and Harry Simmons went over for Leicester’s tries, with Handré Pollard contributing 16 points from the tee as they looked to have done enough to ensure home advantage in the Round of 16.
But after spending the remainder of the game camped on the Leicester line as the penalties racked up, Ospreys eventually found a crucial score as No.8 Morgan wriggled over and fly-half Williams held his nerve to add the extras and take his personal tally to 10 points.
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 20, 2023
Leicester opened the scoring on two minutes as Pollard dispatched a three-pointer, but Ospreys hit back with the game’s first try when hooker Lake dotted down amid an excellent lineout drive.
There was a near-immediate response from Leicester, though, as scrum-half van Poortvliet stepped out from behind a maul and darted over in a clever finish.
Leicester looked to have a second try on 19 minutes when wing Simmons hit a brilliant line and went over next to the posts, but a TMO review revealed that Ospreys centre Mike Collins had produced a sensational tackle to prevent the ball from being grounded.
But the hosts had a penalty coming and extended their lead through Pollard, with Williams slicing wide for Ospreys moments later.
The Welsh region continued to enjoy periods in the ascendancy and Williams made no mistake with another penalty on 26 minutes, reducing the gap to three points.
So much drama 🤯
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) January 20, 2023
Leicester were back on the front foot at the end of the first half but squandered the opportunity to cross, with Ospreys ultimately escaping and levelling the scores through Williams’ second penalty of the evening.
Leicester struck first following the restart as Simmons picked his way through the Ospreys defence and went over the whitewash unchallenged.
But as the home side pushed for a third try, a Pollard pass went to ground and Ospreys hacked forward, with the ball sitting up nicely for wing Giles to gather on halfway and streak over to see the scores levelled again.
However, two quickfire Pollard penalties saw Leicester six points clear on 69 minutes and looked to be enough to see the Gallagher Premiership side to end their pool stage campaign with a fourth straight win.
Despite around a quarter of an hour of committed defence metres from their own line, Leicester eventually succumbed on 89 minutes as Morgan did enough to convince the TMO he had the ball grounded in a dramatic finish.