Cardiff Blues 11 - 14 Leicester Tigers
Sat 23 November 20:00 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 7,122 Ref: Pierre Brousset European Challenge Cup

Cardiff Blues 11 Leicester Tigers 14

Sat 23 Nov 2019 21:39 Cardiff Blues 11 Leicester Tigers 14

Cardiff Blues were unable to make large period of dominance count as Leicester Tigers snatched a dramatic injury time win in the European Challenge Cup.

Wales’ Capital Region led 11-8 at the interval thanks to an Aled Summerhill try and the boot of Jarrod Evans but left other opportunities on the pitch.

Tom Hardwick drew the scores level, in what would look to be the only points scored in the second half, but the outside half showed nerves of steel to convert a penalty in the final play.

John Mulvihill's side return to Guinness PRO14 action next week with a trip to Italy to take on Benetton, before a European double-header against Pau to kick off a busy December period.

It took just four minutes for Jarrod Evans to boot the scoreboard into action at the Arms Park following a deliberate knock on in midfield.

The Blues appeared fired up from the off, with Nick Williams taking exception to a high-tackle on Willis Halaholo to rally the home crowd.

Evans kicked to the corner and the home side attacked from right to left but Leicester clung on – first with a man and ball hit on Hallam Amos, which saved a certain try and then recovering to tackle Rey Lee-Lo, who sold two dummies.

The attacking opportunity was lost when Halaholo’s long pass sailed into touch and a later period of pressure came to an end when Owen Lane lost the ball in contact.

With both sides flexing their muscle in midfield, chances were few and far between during the next 15 minutes. That was until Halaholo’s magical footwork left three Tigers defenders dumbfounded and trailing in his wake.

He was unable to find support to convert the chance but the visitors infringed at the next breakdown and Evans added a second penalty on 20 minutes.

The Blues were dealt a blow when Leicester broke for a try against the run of play. Andy Forsyth made the initial break and he drew full-back Amos to put Jordan Coghlan away.

Tom Hardwick missed the conversion, but the try was further compounded by the sight of Halaholo being helped off.

Despite the double blow, Wales’ Capital Region hit back almost immediately with Lane winning the restart and Summerhill crossing several phases later following a high cross-kick from Jason Tovey.

The Tigers were looking more than capable of breaking the line, however, and a perfectly timed pass from George Worth puts Adam Thompstone clear for the line.

However, Lee-Lo showed impressive pace to recover, but the referee bought play back for a Leicester penalty.

Hardwick made no mistakes from the tee on this occasion, bringing the score within three at the break.

Number eight Williams failed to return for the second-half with James Botham coming on in his place and the strong English outfit soon began to exert their power at set-piece.

They soon earned a penalty at the scrum but Hardwick was unable to make it count from the tee.

However, with both sides failing to fully exert themselves in a disjointed encounter, Hardwick levelled following a soft penalty in midfield.

With the clock nearing the final 10 minutes there was a flash point, which saw Lloyd Williams and second-row Harry Wells clash off the ball followed by a mass melee.

Following a succession of replays Wells was penalised for taking the Cardiff Blues captain out with a throw more akin to judo but perhaps fortunate not to see yellow after appearing to follow through with an elbow.

Minutes later, Evans had the opportunity to nudge the Blues into the lead, but the tricky penalty fell short and wide.

The Blues threatened once more minutes later with Amos expertly volleying a Tovey cross-kick ahead.

It appeared as though he would cap his debut with a stunning individual try but under the pressure of two defenders, he was unable to gather with the try-line at his mercy.

Leicester alarm bells were ringing once again moments later as another Tovey cross-kick found Summerhill in the corner.

He collected with ease and raced to the corner but was tackled into touch by Welshman Sam Costelow.

The visitors also had a late opportunity, after a strong carry from Nephi Leatigaga. The English outfit showed patience to work the ball wide, but Matthew Morgan was on hand to make a crucial intervention, before Keiron Assiratti intercepted.

However, the pressure continued on the hosts, and Hardwick showed nerves of steel to slot an injury time penalty to seal the Tigers' second win of the campaign.