Our Matches of the Season feature, which will pick out the most intriguing games from last season’s European competitions, now turns to the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Several teams hit the ground running in the opening round of the competition and Leicester Tigers were one of those against Brive at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
Leicester Tigers 39 Brive 17
Leicester clicked into gear in the final 15 minutes of their Challenge Cup opener, running in three tries against a Brive side who had proved to be stubborn opposition.
Tigers’ Ben Youngs, Cyle Brink and Nemani Nadolo all crossed the whitewash in the closing stages as the TOP 14 team’s resistance finally melted.
Leicester fly-half Joaquin Diaz Bonilla and Brive counterpart Enzo Herve exchanged penalties over the opening 25 minutes, leaving the scores locked at 6-6.
The first try of Leicester’s Challenge Cup campaign came with just after half an hour played, hooker Tom Youngs peeling off from a maul to dive over from close range.
Bonilla notched his third penalty of the game three minutes before half-time, sending the home side into the break with an eight-point lead.
However, Herve pulled six points back with two penalties in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, only for Leicester’s England international, George Ford, to restore his side’s advantage with two kicks of his own.
Some slick handling then saw Leicester’s replacement scrum-half, Ben Youngs, cross on 64 minutes, with the hosts having run the ball from their own half in a flowing move.
Brive refused to roll over, however, and Wesley Douglas kept their slim hopes of a recovery alive as he dived over in the corner for the French side’s first try of the competition five minutes later.
But Tigers stamped out any lingering doubts with a relentless final 10 minutes, as Brink powered over from one metre out, before Nadolo capped their performance with an excellent try minutes later.
Ford’s two conversions further extended Leicester’s winning margin as the Gallagher Premiership side began a Challenge Cup journey which would ultimately see them reach the final at Twickenham Stadium.