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Report | Tigers win final game of pre-season



Harry Potter scored a hat-trick of tries as Leicester Tigers recorded a 42-28 victory over Newcastle Falcons in a pre-season fixture at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Friday evening.

Potter scored twice in the opening quarter of the game and Charlie Clare added a third as Tigers led 21-7 at half-time.

At the beginning of the Bank Holiday weekend, both head coaches named extended squads and used the second period to spread gametime through their ranks with the new Gallagher Premiership season now just two weeks away.

Anthony Watson, Jimmy Gopperth and James Cronin were among the Tigers newcomers to sample running out at their new home stadium, with Tom Horton, Joe Taufute’e and Phil Cokanasiga joining the action after the break.

Potter completed his hat-trick at the start of the second half, with Taufete’e and Sean Jansen adding further scores in the final run-put before the start of the new season.

After Newcastle kicked off towards the Beehive Money Stand, they enjoyed some decent possession but could not progress further than the 22 with Tigers tackling quickly until eventually turning over ball and, just moments later, Steve Borthwick’s men were on the scoresheet.

Potter recovered from an early tumble when he was impeded in collecting a high ball which led to a yellow card for Vereimi Qorowale to get the first points on the board after five minutes, taking a long pass on the left wing and then winning the race to his chip kick to dot down. Freddie Burns added the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

A knock-on from the restart gave Falcons put-in ball just 10 metres out from the Tigers tryline but the set-piece brought a penalty which Burns kicked back up to halfway.

Potter led the kickchase to a diagonal prod from Burns to the left-hand corner and was rewarded with a penalty but, when play was spread to the opposite flank, Chris Ashton was bundled into touch just five metres out.

Matt Scott showed pace and composure as he covered a dangerous kick down the Falcons right and then dodged two tacklers to allow Tigers to re-set and clear.

Potter was back on the scoresheet on 21 minutes as he collected a crosskick on the left just seconds after a second yellow card had been shown to Qorowale as he tackled Ashton close to the line on the opposite wing.

Falcons lost attacking scrum possession and then missed a lineout in the corner but, when Eli Snyman stole a lineout at the opposite end, a chip from Ben Youngs over last man Logovi’i Mulipola somehow slipped from Ashton’s reach.

George Martin showed strength and good footwork to lead the next attack, but Tigers lost ball 15 metres out and Falcons were able to clear the danger.

The home defence was tested with a break by Gary Graham up the middle and, when Falcons retained ball, it was the back-rower who broke a final tackle to score next to the posts. The conversion from Brett Connon made it 14-7 on 35 minutes.

But Martin’s lineout catch set up position for a third Tigers try shortly before half-time, with Falcons backtracking quickly as Clare touched down and Burns added a third conversion for a 21-7 lead.

England Under-20s cap Jed Walsh was added to the Tigers backline for the start of the second period, while Falcons changed their entire line-up in their first outing of pre-season.

The opening points came with a hat-trick score for Potter in the left-hand corner after some crisp work in attack and Burns added the conversion from the touchline as Tigers sent on five replacements from the bench including Taufete’e.

Falcons responded with a try from Iwan Stephens, winning the chase to ball on the left, with new fly-half Josh Thomas adding the extras as Borthwick sent on replacements including summer signing Cokanasiga.

Lewis Chessum’s first involvement was stealing lineout ball and two direct carries from Kini Murimurivalu got Tigers going forward again before Hosea Saumaki was tackled into touch in the corner.

When wing Adam Radwan was met with a double tackle on the tryline, Tigers continued to defend strongly until Falcons were held up in possession.

But straight from the drop-out, Falcons returned at pace, with Stephens releasing Radwan to score on the right and Thomas was on target with the extras to make it 28-21 with 10 minutes still to play.

A break from Cokansiga was appreciated by the sizeable crowd and ended with a fifth try, with Taufete’e forcing his way over to the left of the posts and Gopperth added the conversion.

But Falcons soon celebrated another try of their own, scrum-half Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti wriggling out of contact to run clear. Thomas added the extras to put just seven points between the teams entering the closing couple of minutes.

Horton replaced Taufete’e in the middle of the front row and was immediately on the ball on the left but Falcons stood up to the lineout drive.

They were pinned inside their own 22, though, and the game ended with Sean Jansen making the final push from a lineout drive for another Tigers try, which Gopperth converted from the right touchline.

Content & Images from – Leicester Tigers Rugby





Sale Sharks have agreed a deal to sign Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu from French Top14 side Toulon. 

The explosive centre, who starred for his country during the recent World Cup, has signed a one-year contract with an option for a further year. 

He will join up with Alex Sanderson’s Sharks squad ahead of the start of the 2024/25 Gallagher Premiership season. 

Waisea, 33, said: “I’ve watched the Premiership for a long time and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I would love to play there one day and experience rugby in England. 

“Now that opportunity has arrived and I’m really, really happy and grateful. I’m so excited to get over there and join the boys and see how I can contribute to the team. 

“I have spoken to Telusa Veainu and he only has positive things to say about the club and about Manchester. 

“I’m looking forward to playing with some of the guys I’ve played against, like Tom Curry and George Ford. But I also know there are a lot of really talented young players in the Sale Sharks squad and I’m excited to share my experience and help them develop as much as I can.  

“I told Alex that it’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years of my career and it’s something I’m passionate about.” 

Nayacalevu, who stands at 6’4” and weighs in at 16st 7lb, spent ten years at Top14 side Stade Français before making the switch to Toulon in 2022.  

He has won 34 caps for Fiji, slotting in at both centre and on the wing, and captained his country at last year’s World Cup, where the Pacific Islanders made the quarter-finals, losing 30-24 to England in Marseille. 

He also famously scored for Fiji in their memorable pre-World Cup win against England at Twickenham. 

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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Falcons star to join Saracens



Phil Brantingham to join Saracens

Tuesday 05 March 2024 Written by: Tom Grisedale

Prop-forward Phil Brantingham will leave Newcastle Falcons in the summer to join Saracens.

The 22-year-old has played 25 games for his home town club, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of everyone at the Falcons.

Chairman of rugby Matt Thompson said: “Phil has done well for us and we made him a good offer to stay here.

“We respect his decision and wish him all the best for his move in the summer, but between now and then he will be fully committed to finishing the season strongly for Newcastle Falcons.”

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby

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Sale Sharks can confirm that forward Cobus Wiese will leave the club at the end of the season to return to South Africa. 

The 26-year-old lock has played almost 80 games for the club and scored five tries since joining from the DHL Stormers ahead of the 2020/21 season. 

He played a key role last year as Sale reached the Premiership final, and this season he has featured a further 13 times for Alex Sanderson’s side. 

Alex said: “Cobus will be missed by all of us on so many levels. He’s the most polite and courteous of people off the field, but the most wildly excitable man on the field, and on a night out. 

“To say Cobus wears his heart on his sleeve is to do him a disservice with regards to his emotional commitment for which his body has paid the price on occasion.  

“He leads by example and has earnt the respect and adoration of the group both on a professional and a personal level. We wish him every success and happiness with his move back home.” 

Everyone at Sale Sharks would like to thank Cobus for his contribution to the club and the team during his time here and we wish him all the very best for the future.  

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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