- Leicester Tigers beat Exeter Chiefs 16-12
- Tigers win first Anglo-Welsh Cup since 2012
Leicester Tigers survived a late comeback from Exeter Chiefs to win 16-12 at the Twickenham Stoop and clinch their first Anglo-Welsh Cup since 2012.
A Tom Brady try was accompanied by 11 first-half points from the boot of fly-half Freddie Burns, and although a late Chiefs score - courtesy of number eight Sam Simmonds - gave the Devon-men a glimmer of hope, Leicester were able to hold on to win the first silverware of the season.
Tigers took the lead in the 12th minute thanks to a 40 metre Burns penalty, but just three minutes later, Chiefs wing James Short scored a brilliant solo try, ghosting around Matthew Tait in open play to cross the whitewash. The conversion out wide was missed.
Not to be outdone, Tigers wing Brady intercepted a wayward pass from Matt Jess, who tried playing wide from a quick line out. The 26-year-old cantered in unopposed and Burns added the extras to put his side back in the ascendancy.
Leicester enjoyed a period of dominance at scrum time, spearheaded by England loose-head prop Ellis Genge, and a penalty off the back of one enabled Burns to increase Tigers' lead to eight points.
Under pressure inside their own 22 with less than a minute to play in the first half, Leicester turned over possession and Peter Betham was unleashed up the left flank. The Australian fed Harry Thacker, who was tackled high by Chiefs hooker, Shaun Malton.
Malton received a yellow card for the offence, and Burns turned the screw by slotting another penalty, giving his side a 16-5 half time lead.
Exeter began the second stanza the quicker of the two teams, but an early penalty was missed by their outside-half, Joe Simmonds, before a Jack Maunder try was disallowed because of an earlier knock on by captain, Julian Salvi.
High tempo and constant pressure from the Chiefs in the final quarter of the match pinned Leicester in their own 22, but a strong defensive effort instigated by line speed from the Tigers thwarted each attack.
There you go... pic.twitter.com/6un4uDtBkn— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) March 19, 2017
The Chiefs were rewarded in the dying embers of the game, after 39 phases, with number eight Simmonds capitalising.
After breaking the first line of defence, Simmonds showed sharp footwork to weave his way under the posts and reduce the deficit to four points with just two minutes remaining. But another stellar defensive set from the Tigers off kick off forced a turnover, and Burns ran the ball out of play to claim a seismic win.
"I'm just really proud of everyone that was involved today, it was a great performance," said Tigers captain, Matthew Tait post match. "We will enjoy today; it's a trophy and everyone is buzzing off of it."
He added: "We will use that buzz from this win next week in the Aviva Premiership."