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Grit impresses Murphy but 'gifts' prove costly

Geordan Murphy says Leicester Tigers showed plenty of “heart and desire” but came up just short in Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership defeat at Wasps.

Tigers claimed two bonus points in a 41-35 defeat with both teams scoring four tries, though the game was still in the balance until the final moments, despite the visitors playing the entire second half with 14 men after a red card for Will Spencer.

Wasps led 14-0 after just 15 minutes and then 19-5 midway through the first half before Tigers fought back to lead and the scores were level at 35-35 entering the last 10 minutes before two late penalties for the hosts.

“We started poorly, we gifted them three scores from turnovers and Wasps are lethal there,” said Tigers interim head coach Murphy.

“Dan Robson took a couple of tap penalties and that gave them momentum, and we fed them a bit too much in the first half.

“There was a bit of luck in the first try when the ball hit Telusa, but we made a few silly errors in our 22. We gifted them too many points. Wasps are too good a side to have that much of a headstart."

Tries from Jonny May (2), Telusa Veainu and Sione Kalamafoni kept Tigers in the hunt, while fly-half George Ford kicked three conversions and three penalties in another impressive performance.

“I was really disappointed at half-time, but in the second half we were a lot better," added Murphy. “Even down to 14 men, we scored some good tries, we got a bonus point and I thought it was going to be our day.

"It was really gritty, we showed a lot of passion and heart, and kept going right to the end."

Spencer was sent off following a tackle on Wasps hooker Tommy Taylor which referee Ian Tempest adjudged to be high and dangerous after consultation with the Television Match Official.

“It’s a really tough one, but I don’t think it’s a red,” said Murphy afterwards. “Will is a six-foot 10-inch bloke tackling a five-foot 10-inch bloke who is going over as well, his height has dropped.

“I totally understand the principle of looking after players, but I didn’t think there was a huge amount of contact with the head and Taylor didn’t have an HIA.”