Geordan Murphy praised the physicality and intensity of the Leicester Tigers alongside the creativity which brought four tries in a bonus-point win over Bristol Bears at Welford Road on Saturday.
Jonny May (2), Ellis Genge and George Ford – who also kicked 11 points – provided the scores in a valuable win in Round 8 of the Gallagher Premiership season against a Bristol team who started the weekend in fourth place in the table.
“I’m pretty pleased,” said Tigers head coach Murphy. “I thought we deserved the win. The physicality was good, we started with great intensity and got that early score. But Bristol play their game very well, they caused problems and at times they had long swathes of possession.
“It was very pleasing at the end of the first half when we stood up to them on our own line. There were some big defensive sets there and that was hugely impressive. To hold them out there was great.”
Tigers led 21-6 at half-time but then conceded two tries in a two-minute spell after the restart as the gap was cut to just three points. But a penalty from Ford and then May’s second try but the match out of reach of the visitors.
“We were in a good position but then they held on to the ball well, they kept the pressure on and deserved that first score,” added Murphy.
“Then we kicked off, missed a tackle and a few seconds later you’re on your own tryline. That was disappointing.
“But we responded very well and stuck to the task. We could have felt sorry for ourselves at that point, but we scored a penalty to settle the nerves and then got a nice bonus-point try from there.”
Paying tribute to Sam Harrison, following his final appearance for the club, Murphy felt the team’s performance typified many of the qualities the scrum-half brought to the squad since his debut back in 2009.
“He’s been amazing for us for a long time,” said Murphy. “The players this week wanted to use a bit of their ‘inner Sam Harrison’. There was physicality and passion and heart from the team – and Sam has all of that in abundance. We wish him and his family all the very best for the future.”