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'Gutsy' fightback encourages coach Mauger

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Aaron Mauger says he was encouraged by a second-half fightback from Leicester Tigers in taking a point from defeat at Wasps on Sunday.

After conceding three tries and 19 points in the first half-hour, head coach Mauger saw Tigers claim 16 unanswered points in his first game in charge to set up a grandstand finish in Round 13 of the Aviva Premiership season.
Wasps, though, managed to secure a 22-16 win despite some frantic pressure from Tigers in the closing stages.
“It was a gutsy performance to come back from 19 points down and get back into the game and to give ourselves a chance to get something out of it,” said Mauger.
“We didn’t manage the game well enough in the first 25 minutes. We could’ve been smarter – we kicked to their firepower too much. We gave them opportunities and when we got down into their 22 we couldn’t convert our pressure into points.
“But even at half-time we felt we had created opportunities and that we just needed to hold on to the ball a bit longer in the opposition 22 and we’d get more of those chances.
“I was encouraged by the second half. The challenge was to keep our composure and we did that really well.

"We had Wasps on the back foot at times, our scrum was going well, we got some penalties there which put us in a position to have a crack at them.
“Another couple of minutes and perhaps it could have been a different story.”
The bonus point took Tigers back up to fifth place in the Aviva Premiership table.
“In the past two weeks we’ve played the top two teams in the competition and we’ve shown in both weeks that we are not far off,” added Mauger. “We’ll take a lot of belief out of that."

Speaking after the first Tigers' match since the departure of director of rugby RIchard Cockerill, Mauger said: "There was a lot of emotion, especially in the early part of the week, but everyone is taking responsibility for the situation we are in. We’re all responsible for those performances. I thought to a man the team gave everything today, they played with passion and commitment, and we put Wasps under pressure.
“I thought the leadership of guys like Tom Youngs, Ed Slater and Ben Youngs in that second 40 minutes was outstanding. They’re putting their hands up and leading the way for their team-mates.”
Mauger was also happy to give an Aviva Premiership debut to 20-year-old centre Charlie Thacker who was called on to the bench when Jack Roberts was ruled out by injury, with Matt Smith stepping up to start his first game in two months after an ankle injury.
“It was a good sign getting Charlie on,” said Mauger. “He’s a young lad who has come through the academy and now he’s made his Premiership debut.”
Tigers lost fly-half Owen Williams during the second half with an elbow injury which will be assessed before the squad begin preparations for Saturday’s trip to face Racing 92 in Paris in the pool stages of the European Champions Cup.