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Leaders Leicester leave it late to go 10 for 10 in 2021

By PA
Semi Radradra is tackled by Dan Kelly /PA

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Gallagher Premiership leaders Leicester preserved their unbeaten league record after claiming a dramatic 28-26 victory over Bristol at Ashton Gate.

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Substitute Guy Porter’s try four minutes into added time made it a perfect 10 out of 10 Premiership wins for Leicester this season.

Bristol looked to have dashed hopes of another Leicester triumph but Tigers skipper Ellis Genge was not to be denied victory over his hometown club prior to joining them next summer.

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It was often a frustrating afternoon for Genge, who was involved in a second-half skirmish with Bristol prop and his England front-row colleague Kyle Sinckler.

Bristol were the last team to defeat Leicester in a Premiership game, claiming an away success almost seven months ago, and they nearly repeated that feat through tries from number eight Fitz Harding and wing Ioan Lloyd, while fly-half Callum Sheedy kicked 16 points.

Porter, wing Nemani Nadolo and hooker Julian Montoya touched down for the Tigers, with fly-half George Ford adding three penalties and two conversions as Leicester shaded a thriller.

Fijian star Semi Radradra made his first start of the season after being sidelined by a knee injury suffered during the Tokyo Olympics while Lloyd, centre Sam Bedlow and flanker Sam Jeffries were also among seven changes from Bristol’s last outing three weeks ago.

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Genge, meanwhile, led a Leicester team boosted by his England colleague Freddie Steward’s return at full-back, with Matias Moroni recalled alongside Dan Kelly in midfield.

Leicester made a bright start, assisted by Bristol conceding two penalties in quick succession, with Genge prominent in loose exchanges but the home team’s defence held firm.

Ford kicked the Tigers into a 15th-minute lead after Bristol conceded a scrum penalty, yet there was precious little to choose between the sides as they sparred for early supremacy.

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Bristol breached Leicester’s defence midway through the first half when Radradra claimed a high ball from Ben Youngs and surged clear to touch down but the referee ruled it out for a knock-on by Radradra after consulting with television match official Luke Pearce.

Bristol only had to wait another two minutes for an opening try, though, following a superb break by scrum-half Harry Randall and despite Lloyd being tackled short of the line, Harding crashed over and Sheedy added the conversion.

It lifted Bristol’s collective effort and Sheedy extended their advantage by kicking a penalty following a Leicester lineout infringement.

Leicester continued to concede penalties and another Sheedy three-pointer opened up a 13-3 advantage before Tigers hit back two minutes before the break.

Good build-up play from Moroni created an opportunity and Nadolo applied a quality finish, gathering his own kick inside Bristol’s 22 and claiming the try that Ford converted.

Sheedy and Ford exchanged penalties early in the second period, then Bristol struck with a second try after Radradra sent Lloyd over, and Sheedy converted, yet back came Leicester as Ford added the extras to Montoya’s touchdown with 23 minutes left.

Ford landed an equalising penalty to set up a tense final quarter but Sheedy missed two kicks in six minutes before finding his range again after Leicester substitute Jasper Wiese was yellow-carded for a late challenge on the Bristol number 10.

It appeared to have proved costly from Leicester’s viewpoint as Bristol were heading for an outstanding victory only for Porter to deny them in the final seconds.

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