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Leicester Tigers face Connacht Rugby in the European Rugby Challenge Cup Round of 16 – a side that has played 126 games in the competition, more than any other club.
Despite their Challenge Cup experience, Connacht have never reached the final, and have only won twice in 19 trips to England.
The Irish province may have dropped out the Heineken Champions Cup this season, but they have lost just three of their last 14 games in the Challenge Cup.
They face a Leicester team that beat Brive (39-17) and Bayonne (28-20) to finish fourth in the Challenge Cup preliminary stage.
The game at Welford Road kicks off at 20:00 (UK and Irish time) on April 3 and is available to watch on BT Sport.
Leicester Tigers: 4th in European Rugby Challenge Cup Prelim Stage (9 points)
Connacht Rugby: 10th Heineken Champions Cup Pool B (1 point)
Despite having played 150+ games each, Leicester Tigers and Connacht will face each other for the first time in European competition.
Which side are favourites to make the quarters this year? 👀 pic.twitter.com/BhceliHxEk
— Challenge Cup (@ERChallengeCup) April 1, 2021
Leading 2020/21 points-scorers
Leicester Tigers: Zack Henry (13)
Connacht Rugby: Jack Carty (11)
Andy Friend (Connacht Rugby): ““We started out, at the front end of the year, in the [Heineken] Champions Cup and as the way the year has fallen, we’ve moved back into the Challenge Cup. Silverware and podium finishes are where we want to be, especially looking at this Challenge Cup as a real opportunity for us to go and win something.”
- Leicester Tigers have only lost two of their nine games played in the Challenge Cup (W7) and have won all four of their home games in the competition, by an average margin of 26 points.
- Connacht have only lost three of their last 14 games in the Challenge Cup (W10 D1) but they did lose their most recent match, an away game in England against Sale Sharks (10-20).
- Connacht have only won two of their 19 trips to England in the Challenge Cup (D1 L16) and have won none of the last seven (D1 L6).
- Connacht have played more games (126) in the Challenge Cup than any other side, despite that they’ve never reached the final of the competition.
- Leicester are one of two sides (also Worcester) to have picked up three yellow cards in the Challenge Cup this season, the most in the competition.
- Leicester have won 15/15 scrums in the Challenge Cup this season, the most of any side who is yet to lose one against the head.
- Leicester’s tackle success rate of 90% is the best of any side in the Challenge Cup this season, they’ve made the joint most tackles (271) of any side.
- Jack Carty (Connacht) made 39 kicks from hand in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, more than any other player.
- Matt Healy’s (Connacht) next try in the Challenge Cup will be his 20th, only four other players have reached this milestone (Tom Varndell, Julien Arias, Richard Haughton, Topsy Ojo).
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Leicester Tigers back in Challenge Cup quarter-finals after comfortable Connacht success
Leicester Tigers scored seven tries as they defeated Connacht Rugby 48-32 on Saturday evening to secure a spot in next weekend’s European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
The visitors started on top but would soon surrender the lead to the two-time European champions, one that Leicester would hold onto for the rest of the match.
It was the work of Sean O’Brien that gave Connacht the opening try, breaking down the left wing before releasing scrum-half Kieran Marmion to beat his opposite number Ben Youngs and score in the corner.
Two tries in quick succession put Leicester back in the driving seat though – the first of which came from Charlie Clare at the back of a maul and the other from Guy Porter who picked a gap in the Connacht line, sprinted 40 metres and scored.
Where did that come from? 😳
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 3, 2021
The Irish province would apply some pressure but coughed up possession all too frequently, allowing Porter to collect on one occasion and find Matias Moroni who did the rest, scoring in the corner.
A fourth Leicester try followed as Zack Henry went over after an excellent kick chase, meaning that the East Midlands side led by 13 points at the break.
Connacht got within two points of their English opponents after the break as they threatened to pull off a shock comeback.
Connacht refuse to go down without a fight 💪
Paul Boyle lacerates the Tigers defence 👏
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 3, 2021
Either side of a Johnny McPhillips three-pointer, Eoghan Masterson and Alex Wootton both scored tries for Connacht, with the pair converted by Jack Carty.
The powerful Leicester scrum and driving ability proved the difference between the two sides on the night, as Clare scored a second from the back of a driving maul before Paul Boyle crashed through to bring Connacht back into contention.
But tries from Harry Wells and Jasper Wiese finally put the result beyond any doubt and secured Leicester’s spot in the last eight, where they will host Newcastle Falcons.