Leicester Tigers' Academy team - playing in black kit and with letters on their backs, as part of the club's 1880 celebrations - lost out 19-35 to an impressive Cardiff Blues outfit in front of a crowd of more than 7,000 at Welford Road on Monday night.
The Blues took the lead in only the first minute of the match, with fly-half Dai Flanagan on target with a good goal kick after Tigers were penalised. With their hosts on the back foot, Cardiff Blues continued to pile on the pressure and a quick break through the centres saw Tigers fly-half Rob Springall taking the ball on inside his own 22 and making an excellent dummy and clearance to put the home side into their opponents' territory.
But with Cardiff Blues dominating much of the early play, Tigers were forced to defend hard as the visitors pushed for their opening try. This duly came after 20 minutes, when a fluid passing move through the Blues backs saw fly-half Flanagan touch down in the left-hand corner, a score which he himself converted.
Tigers reacted quickly and were on the scoresheet just two minutes later, when an excellent break from full back Johnny Murphy and superb handling by No.8 Ben Pienaar - the Poacher's Bistro Man of the Match - saw back row partner Alex Shaw dart over on the right. Murphy's touchline conversion attempt went just wide of the uprights.
Cardiff Blues extended their lead just before the half-hour mark, with a smart line-out move allowing Bradley Davis to crash over for an unconverted try. The visitors continued to pressurise Tigers - some last-ditch defending ensuring that the hosts did not fall further behind.
Cardiff Blues scored their third try of the evening after 34 minutes, when flanker Lee Evans scored as the result of a fine break by centre Dafydd Lockyear. Flanagan converted the score to put the visitors 22-5 ahead. A golden opportunity to claw back three points just before the interval was spurned by Murphy, who pushed his penalty attempt wide.
After the break it took the Blues just four minutes to score their fourth try of the match, when some loose Tigers defending allowed Rhys Shelland to crash through the centre. The conversion attempt was put wide by Flanagan, but Cardiff Blues extended their lead after 50 minutes, when a slip by Murphy allowed Lockyear to touch the ball down for an unconverted try as the visitors moved 32-5 ahead.
Tigers reacted quickly, however, and scored their second try of the match following some good hands the backs, with Shaw able to dive over under the posts. Murphy scored the conversion to reduce the deficit to 32-12.
Flanagan extended his side's lead after 73 minutes with a penalty, before Tigers centre Matt Smith - who had moved to fly-half when Springall departed the fray - scored a try after some good forward pressure from the hosts; Murphy converting to take the score to 19-35.