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Connacht Tame Tigers

Connacht Tame Tigers

Connacht claimed one of the biggest scalps in the province’s long history when they beat Leicester Tigers 22-17 at the Sportsground on Friday night.

Connacht fly-half Paul Warwick

PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY: Friday, August 19

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Connacht 22 Leicester Tigers 17, The Sportsground

Scorers: Connacht: Try: Mark McHugh; Con: Paul Warwick; Pens: Warwick 4, McHugh

Leicester: Tries: Alesana Tuilagi 2, Tom Varndell; Con: Ross Broadfoot

Connacht claimed one of the biggest scalps in the province’s long history when they beat Leicester Tigers 22-17 at the Sportsground on Friday night.

It was the perfect tonic for coach Michael Bradley, who watched his charges beat Parma 20-13 on Tuesday, ahead of their September 3 Celtic League opener against Cardiff Blues at the same Galway venue.

Pat Howard’s Tigers side, which included former Leinster forwards Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings, did outscore their hosts by three tries to one, but the devastating boot of fly-half Paul Warwick, who hammered over 14 points, ensured a narrow win for the westerners.

Tigers replied to an early Warwick penalty with the opening try. Former All Black centre Daryl Gibson sent Alesana Tuilagi powering over in the right corner.

Although that score went unconverted, a snappy break from Jennings, soon after, saw the ball flicked out to right wing Tom Varndell and he outfoxed the Connacht rearguard to score.

10-3 down, Connacht leveled matters and went ahead by half-time. Centre Mark McHugh, after an initial Warwick break, touched down on 25 minutes, and Warwick’s conversion, and two further penalties, allied to a McHugh haymaker of his own, pushed Bradley’s men 19-10 in front.

Ireland and Lions full-back Geordan Murphy was unleashed on the restart, and he set up Tuilagi’s second and Tigers’ third try.

Ross Broadfoot converted, yet Connacht were not to be denied a famous win. Warwick had the final word with his fourth penalty, however there was a sour note on 78 minutes when McHugh was stretchered from the field with a leg injury.

The knock was later diagnosed as severed knee ligaments and the 27-year-old will be unfortunately sidelined until next spring.

CONNACHT: David Slemen; Daniel Riordan, Matt Mostyn, Mark McHugh, Conor McPhillips; Paul Warwick, Chris Keane; Ray Hogan, John Fogarty, Adrian Clarke, Andrew Gallagher, Andrew Farley (Capt), John Muldoon, Matt Lacey, Colm Rigney.

Replacements: Joe Merrigan, Dan McFarland, Ronan Loughney, Christian Short, David Gannon, Michael Swift, Conor O’Loughlin, Tom Tierney, Keith Matthews.

LEICESTER: Sam Vesty; Tom Varndell, Dan Hipkiss, Daryl Gibson (Capt), Alesana Tuilagi; Andy Goode, Harry Ellis; Michael Holford, George Chuter, Alex Moreno, James Hamilton, Leo Cullen, Brett Deacon, Shane Jennings, Will Johnson.

Replacements: Ephraim Taukafa, John Rawson, Will Skinner, Luke Abraham, Scott Bernand, Ross Broadfoot, Matt Cornwell, Leon Lloyd, Geordan Murphy.

Referee: Simon McDowell (IRFU)