Wales skipper Sam Warburton played his first game since March
Wales and British & Irish Lions skipper Sam Warburton finally got back onto the rugby pitch after injury and contractual difficulties when he played 50 minutes for Cardiff Blues in their 21-17 friendly defeat at Leicester Tigers.
Warburton was joined by new signing Adam Jones in a Blues side that battled back from an early 12-0 deficit to lead 17-12 in the second half against the English giants. But three late penalties from England outside half Freddy Burns wrapped up the game for the home side.
Warburton hadn't played since undergoing surgery after dislocating his shoulder in Wales' 51-3 RBS 6 Nations win over Scotland in March. The on-going impasse between the WRU and the Regions over the signing of the new Rugby Services Agreement meant he wasn't able to play in any of the Blues' earlier friendlies, but Thursday's successful conclusion meant he was able to play at Welford Road.
Tries from new Italian back row recruit Robert Barbieri and England and Lions scrum half Ben Youngs, one of which Burns converted, gave the Tigers their early 12-0 lead. But the Blues hit back with a sniping try from Wales scrum half Lloyd Williams and two Rhys Patchell penalties to make it 12-11 at the break.
Patchell then dropped a goal and kicked a penalty at the start of the second half to hoist the visitors into a 17-12 lead before Burns put the boot in with his hat-trick of late penalties to bag victory in a highly competitive game.
Scorers: Leicester Tigers: Tries: R Barbieri, B Youngs; Con: F Burns; Pens: F Burns 3. Cardiff Blues: Try: L Williams; DG: R Patchell; Pens: R Patchell 3
Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton look ahead to this week's crunch RBS 6 Nations tie against France, where the Wales skipper in particular is keen to make his mark, as Paris has proved a bleak place for him in the past.
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