Leicester Tigers debutant Clayton Blommetjies says even a first appearance in front of the #TigersFamily at Welford Road was not enough to get over the disappointment of defeat in the dying moments against Bristol Bears.
The former South Africa Sevens star and Scarlets loanee made his first-team debut on Saturday after being named at full-back by head coach Geordan Murphy for impressing in the second-string side over recent weeks.
“We really were in the game until the last moment.”Clayton Blommetjies
However, taking to the field in front of more than 20,000 supporters at the home of the Tigers – while ‘lovely’ – could not distract from the overwhelming disappointment of a last-gasp loss.
Speaking exclusively to LeicesterTigers.com following the final whistle, Blommetjies said: “To be honest, the main emotion is just the soreness of losing the game.
“You can look at that match and see that we were in the game until the last minutes, and we as a team said after the game that it was stupid mistakes that cost us.”
Tigers went toe-to-toe with their West Country rivals for much of the first half, heading into the dressing rooms at half time with 11 points apiece.
The home side pulled ahead after the break, but a Bears driving maul – dotted down by hooker Harry Thacker – put Bristol in the driving seat with less than five minutes of the match remaining.
“We really were in the game until the last moment,” Blommetjies continued. “We can look at almost the entire game and take positives from it for next week.
“We need to come back in on Monday, look at the small things that we can perfect, rectify some mistakes, and then I think we’ll be able to put together a full game.”
And while the first taste of a Welford Road matchday was no consolation for being forced to settle for a losing bonus point, the experience is one that the 28-year-old will savour in years to come.
“It was lovely to play in front of such a crowd,” he added. “I loved every moment that I was on the pitch.
“If there is no-one in the stadium you don’t get that feeling to perform, but today was a proper clash between two teams and the crowd were almost like that 16th man giving us that extra motivation on the field, so it was quite impressive to play in front of 20,000 or so.”