London Irish rounded off their pre-season campaign with a 46-17 defeat against a full strength Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.

The Exiles, who were narrowly beaten in Cork last week, were given a stern test ahead of next Saturday’s Championship opener at Ealing.

The Tigers ran in six tries courtesy of England international Jonny May, David Denton, Ben Youngs, Will Spencer, Jonah Holmes and Jordan Olowofela, while Dave Porecki and Tom Stephenson dotted down for Irish.

Irish improving - Declan Kidney

After an eighth minute George Ford penalty, the hosts extended their advantage three minutes later when May backed up a fine Telusa Veainu break to slide over under the posts. Irish responded in positive fashion, the pack putting in the hard yards to work through the phases to earn a penalty, which Greig Tonks duly obliged with to reduce the arrears to 10-3.

Irish’s defensive resolve was continually tested by a potent Tigers backline, Matt O’Connor’s men scoring three times in quick succession before the break. First Denton shrugged off a series of would-be tacklers to touchdown on 32 minutes, before England scrum-half Youngs and then Spencer got in on the act.

Player reaction...

The Welford Road outfit edged further ahead six minutes into the second half, Ford notching over a penalty after Irish were penalised for offside. Irish cut the gap to 32-10 on 53 minutes when Porecki took a neat inside flat pass from Ben Meehan to dash 15 metres unchallenged to score. Tonks made no mistake from bang in front. It was clear to see the impact of Stephenson and Stephen Myler in the opening exchanges of the second half, the pair looking more direct with ball in hand.

On 64 minutes Holmes scampered in at the corner for Leicester to increase his side’s lead to 39-10, but back came Irish and six minutes from time Stephenson went over for a well-deserved try as he fended off a pack of Tigers tacklers. However, Leicester had the last word on the contest with Olowofela demonstrating his lightning-quick pace to sprint in for a solo effort.   

Leicester Tigers: Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 1 Campese Ma’afu, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 3 Dan Cole, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Will Spencer, 6 David Denton, 7 Tommy Renfell, 8 Sione Kalamafoni

Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Ross McMillan, 18 David Feao, 19 Gaston Cortes, 20 Facundo Gigena, 21 Mike Williams, 22 Valentino Mapapalangi, 23 Sam Harrison, 24 Ben White, 25 Tom Hardwick, 26 Joe Ford, 27 Matt Smith, 28 George Worth, 29 Brendan Macken, 30 Jonah Holmes, 31 Jordan Olowofela

London Irish:  15 Greig Tonks, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Theo Brophy Clews, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Ben Meehan, 9 Scott Steele, 1 Gordon Reid, 2 Dave Porecki, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 4 Barney Maddison, 5 Teofilo Paulo, 6 Josh McNally (c), 7 Max Northcote-Green, 8 Matt Rogerson

Replacements:  16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Manasa Saulo, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Sam Twomey, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Jack O’Sullivan, 24 Isaac Curtis-Harris, 25 Jake Schatz, 26 Tom Stephenson, 27 Bryce Campbell, 28 Sean O’Hagan, 29 Reuben Knight

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