Handre Pollard stars as Leicester beat Stormers in Investec Champions Cup

Handre Pollard stars as Leicester beat Stormers in Investec Champions Cup

Handre Pollard scored 20 points against a side from his native South Africa as Leicester Tigers ground out a nervy 35-26 victory against a depleted Stormers in their opening match of this season's Investec Champions Cup.

Pollard's haul included a crucial try at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, with Tongan centre Solomone Kata grabbing two scores of his own in what was a fitful performance from Leicester.

They had to turn around a 17-10 half-time deficit against a Stormers side who left most of their big names at home ahead of their home game against holders La Rochelle next week.

The only members of the Springboks' World Cup-winning squad on display were in Leicester colours and one of them, Pollard, kicked the first points of the game via a penalty after six minutes.

Jurie Matthee was making his debut at fly-half for the Stormers and he took his first sight at the posts to level matters after Connor Evans was tackled while in the air at a line-out.

Parity lasted just a couple of minutes as Jasper Wiese, the other world champion in the Tigers' ranks, broke from a five-metre scrum before passing for Kata to barge his way through for the opening try.

A strong carry by openside Nama Xaba led to a good spell of pressure from the visitors and it led to number eight Keke Morabe breaking off an attacking scrum to go through virtually untouched.

Matthee's conversion squared it up again at 10-10 after half an hour and it was the Stormers who went into half-time ahead.

It came after Paul de Wet did superbly to chase down his own kick ahead, after Wiese lost control at the back of a scrum, before popping up a pass for former Northampton winger Courtnall Skosan to finish, with Matthee converting again.

Pollard quickly reduced the gap to four points with a penalty two minutes into the second half and it wasn't long before Leicester then hit the front.

The ball was worked to the left, where Hanro Liebenberg fed Ollie Hassell-Collins, who drew his man before passing inside for Kata to score his second, with Pollard adding the extras.

The match was soon level again at 20-20, however, as Matthee kicked a drop goal from 22 metres before he and Pollard then swapped penalties in what was a fascinating kicking duel.

The Stormers then lost Lee-Marvin Mazibuko to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Wiese and the Tigers quickly took advantage when Pollard went over from Harry Wells' pass.

Matthee's latest penalty kept the visitors in touch of their hosts going into the closing stages, but Leicester finally wrapped up the win when Josh Bassett finished in the corner off the final play.

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