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Tig Blog

First meeting deserves a second showing

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The best course of action at the final whistle in the win over Connacht last week was to press rewind and watch it again, despite the late hour.

Such an eventful evening deserved a second look, if only to absorb it all.

From the opening exchanges and Connacht’s early warning shot, there was a switch in momentum towards Tigers with four tries before half-time followed by epic sets of defence to conclude the first half.

Another score at that stage would have surely killed the contest but, instead, a free-flowing second half began with the visitors fighting back. They twice cut the gap to just two points and also missed a penalty which would have put them in front before Tigers managed to hit re-set and then turned the power back on to finish on a high note and earn a place in the quarter-finals.

It must have been great watching for a neutral, though heart-stopping at times for the committed fans of either team.

Connacht lived up to Steve Borthwick’s pre-match predictions about their attack and their ability to change tack to provide different threats during the course of the 80 minutes.

Among the excitement, there were first Tigers tries for three players – Guy Porter, Matías Moroni and Zack Henry – which emphasises the point of how much the squad has been reshaped in a short period of time. And it could have been four if Johnny McPhillips had not been held up over the line after an exhilarating run under the posts in the dying minutes of the game.

Throw in two debuts in the front row, a Charlie Clare double, a characteristic charge or two from Jasper Wiese, a re-appearance at the breakdown for Luke Wallace, relentless prompting of Ben Youngs on his return to the team, Zack at full-back, a big contest at the scrum and a couple of heart-in-mouth moments defending the lead and you have a game well worth watching more than once – especially in the knowledge of a Tigers win after the first showing.

After a first-ever competitive fixture against Connacht, now Tigers face familiar opposition in the next round, especially as it is only two weeks since Newcastle came to town in domestic action.

With the obvious added familiarity within the Falcons set-up, it is just as well we have a French referee and purple goalposts to emphasise that this is very much a one-off.