Geordan Murphy praised the grit and determination of the Leicester Tigers team in coming back from a half-time deficit to take four points from victory over Wasps at Welford Road on Saturday.
Despite playing with a strong wind at their backs, Tigers trailed 3-6 at half-time and conceded another three points immediately after the break before tries from Greg Bateman and Telusa Veainu settled the derby encounter with an 18-9 victory for the home team.
“Leicester Tigers is based on grit, determination and hard work,” said head coach Murphy afterwards.
“And that result was built on the forward pack. We can polish what we do, but we need guys to stand up and show that, and we had that today.
“In the first half, with the wind at our backs, we played pretty poorly, we let them dictate the game too much and turned over ball too many times. But into the wind, the way the pack played was particularly impressive. We got the rolling maul going and that was a good platform.
“We probably gave them too many opportunities in the first half - we were more accurate in the second half. At 9-3 down and then losing a player to the sin-bin, the guys stood up well, we went back down their end with 14 men and got a penalty and got back into it.
“That was vital for our belief and we got on top.”
Bateman’s try came from a close-range maul as the forwards started to exert pressure on their rivals, while Murphy was delighted with the set-up which turned defence into attack as Veainu ran in an 80-metre interception to push Tigers further in front.
“It’s a defensive try,” Murphy said. “We put some pressure on them as the game went on and they started to force it a bit.
"It was a good read from Jaco Taute in defence, the ball bounces out and you don’t want to be with Telusa in a foot race.”
Another positive for Tigers was an 80-minute outing for flanker Hanro Liebenberg on his return from injury and his first appearance since early November.
“We didn’t intend for him to play 80 minutes, but Sione Kalamafoni went off early on and we had to adjust,” said Murphy. “I thought he could push on through and he did really well and I thought all of the bench had a positive impact too.”