Steve Borthwick says Leicester Tigers must learn from every game as he praised the workrate of his team in defeat at Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.
Tigers returned to action in Round 14 of the Gallagher Premiership season after a five-month lay-off and started brightly against top-of-the-table Exeter with George Ford kicking a penalty and a drop goal.
But a penalty count started to mount up against Tigers as Chiefs did the damage in the middle third of the game, scoring four tries in a 25-minute spell either side of half-time before Tigers claimed a penalty try just short of the hour mark.
“We are not happy we lost,” said Borthwick after his first game in charge. “We hate losing.
“But the effort of the players was magnificent. We have made some progress but we have to build on every opportunity to learn – every training session and every game is an opportunity for us to move forward. We know we have a lot of work to do.
“Winning games against that calibre of opposition with that many penalties against you is very difficult. We certainly need to look at the penalty count.”
Borthwick gave debuts to Matt Scott and on-loan David Williams in the starting line-up, with Luke Wallace and Zack Henry getting a first outing from the bench, while academy graduate Thom Smith made his first appearance in the Premiership.
“In terms of our performance, we asked right at the start for effort from the players and that was unquestionable,” said Borthwick as Tigers finished the game on the attack and pushing for another score with Chiefs taking five points from the encounter.
“We made mistakes and there are things to learn but the effort and attitude were outstanding.
“Credit to Exeter for the way they played. We gave them a few opportunities and a side like that will put you under pressure and take those opportunities.”
Tigers return to action in Round 15 this Saturday with a home fixture behind closed doors against Bath Rugby. For more information on how season ticket holders can follow the action with a BT Sport Match Pass, click here.