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Wales’ lone representative in the Heineken Champions Cup Ospreys welcome Gallagher Premiership champions Leicester Tigers when the opening round of fixtures come to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon.
Ospreys host the Pool B match-up at the Swansea.com Stadium hoping to improve on a 2021/22 campaign that saw them defeated in all four pool matches. They’ve just one win in nine United Rugby Championship games this season and sit 14th.
Leicester, meanwhile, made their way to the quarter-final stage – with four wins from four in Pool B and a two-legged victory over ASM Clermont Auvergne – before losing 23-14 to Leinster Rugby in the last eight. Leicester sit fifth in their domestic table with four wins from nine matches.
The encounter kicks off at 17:30 (UK & Irish time) and is available to watch on S4C, BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport and FloRugby.
🦅 @ospreys are up against both the French and English champions in the pool stage…
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) November 30, 2022
Handré Pollard (Leicester Tigers fly-half): “It’s the greatest club competition. Everybody wants to be a part of it; I know a lot of guys that are playing in Europe just to be a part of the [Heineken] Champions Cup and [EPCR] Challenge Cup. To have the South African clubs in it as well, that’s something different, but it’s just the greatest competition there is and its basically rugby immortality if you win it.”
Dewi Lake (Ospreys hooker): “I think it is a little bit of both [pressure and pride]. It’s something we played for last year, to be the Welsh team that qualified for this. I think as much with the Ospreys, we’re representing the whole of Wales in this in this competition this season.”
- Ospreys fly-half Jack Walsh has made as many try assists in the BKT URC as any other player (five).
- Ospreys wing Keelan Giles has made more chase tackles than any other player in the URC, catching up with and stopping 18 attackers. He is also his club’s top try-scorer with four so far this season.
- Ospreys have not beaten the Leicester Tigers in Swansea since January 2010, when they won 17-12.
- Arch-poacher Tommy Reffell won the most turnovers in last season’s competition, pilfering possession from the opposition 15 times in total. He won five against ASM Clermont Auvergne alone in the Round of 16.
- Leicester made more kicks in play last season than any other team (226). Their total of 7,328 kicking metres was also their highest in the competition.
- Tigers scored three maul tries in total last season – as many as any other club (level with Sale Sharks and Stade Toulousain).
- The Tigers won more scrum penalties last season than any other team, 18 in total
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Leicester Tigers’ Heineken Champions Cup campaign began with a battling 23-17 win against Ospreys in Swansea on Sunday.
Anthony Watson’s stunning individual try was the standout moment for Leicester, with Harry Potter also crossing while Charlie Atkinson’s 13 points from the tee were a crucial contribution.
Ospreys were worthy opponents and made life difficult for the visitors, crossing through Nicky Smith and Morgan Morris as they picked up a losing bonus point.
There was little try-line action for the majority of a largely uneventful first half, Ospreys fly-half Jack Walsh exchanging penalties with Leicester counterpart Atkinson as the teams struggled to build meaningful phases.
Leicester’s best foray into the Ospreys half was halted by an excellent turnover from the Welsh region’s scrum-half Rhys Webb, but the visitors looked set to take a 6-3 lead into the break.
However, Ospreys were in control at scrum time, and when the Leicester pack crumbled five metres out on 37 minutes, visiting prop Joe Heyes was sent to the sin bin.
🐯 @anthonywatson_ that is outrageous!
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 11, 2022
And Ospreys took full advantage, powering over the line through prop Smith as they ended the half on a high, Walsh’s conversion putting them four points up.
Leicester raised their game after break, though, putting Ospreys under pressure while still down to 14 men before grabbing their first try of the game when back to their full complement on 51 minutes.
After an Ospreys offside gifted Leicester possession, wing Potter gathered Atkinson’s cross-field kick and raced over in the corner.
The highlight of the game came on the hour mark as full-back Watson produced a moment of magic to extend Leicester’s lead – the England international scooped up a loose ball in midfield before unleashing a devastating step and turn of pace, handing off the covering defender and diving under the posts.
Ospreys continued to plug away and were rewarded for a series of powerful carries when No.8 Morris forced his way over on 74 minutes, Walsh adding to extras to see the gap reduced to three points.
But Leicester recovered possession from the restart and Atkinson’s third penalty of the evening wrapped up victory for the travelling side despite a spirited late effort from Ospreys.
Ospreys face a trip to France to face Montpellier Hérault Rugby in Round 2 on Saturday, while Leicester are at home to ASM Clermont Auvergne on the same day.