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Rugby News

Hard-fought defeat will improve us, says Batley

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Leicester forward Joe Batley insists the Tigers squad will be better because of Saturday’s heavyweight clash with Saracens.

The second-rower was a physical presence in the huge Tigers pack that travelled to Allianz Park in Round 13 of the league season, and went toe-to-toe with the reigning Gallagher Premiership champions.

“The final result is tough to take,” he said. “But you have to let the result sting.

“We can’t be happy with not winning.

“We prepped all week and we knew what was coming when we came down here to Saracens; a big battle up front with some of their big lads.

“We knew we had a challenge in the scrum, we did well there, we fronted up in the lineout and then around the park put in some big shots.

“Once Nephi [Leatigaga] gets over the ball it’s going to be impossible to move him, isn’t it? He’s an absolute fridge freezer of a man.

“There were some outstanding performances in terms of fronting up, it’s just a shame we couldn’t get over the line at the end.”

The visitors were just a point behind at the break despite losing starting fly-half Johnny McPhillips to an early injury, and went ahead after scrum-half Ben White finished off a break from his forward pack.

But a yellow card for Telusa Veainu as he attempted to intercept a Saracens attack put Tigers down to 14 men, and Sarries centre Dom Morris made the most of the advantage to wrestle back the lead in the final quarter.

“There were moments in there where we probably could have won the game, and there were other moments where it went against us,” Batley continued.

“The yellow card hurt us, there were a couple of penalties that hurt us, and against a team like Saracens, if they get on the front foot then it’s so difficult to counter.

“For the majority of the game we were more physical than them and we hit them back.

“We’ve got to make sure we do the same for 80 minutes and we’ve got to make it count every time.”

Geordan Murphy’s men are without a game this weekend, ahead of a trip to table-topping Exeter Chiefs and a run of three successive home games.

And Batley explained how recent home form – as well as Saturday’s arm wrestle in north London – gives a glimpse at what the side are building.

He added: “We’ve got a lot of faith in what we’re trying to achieve. We don’t always execute it perfectly, but as performances and results have shown we’re getting really close.

“Just look at the last few weeks; we’ve picked up some good wins at home, we’ve now pushed Sarries close away from home, so the tide’s definitely turning.

“Everyone’s looking forward to what the future holds.

“We’ve got these next two weeks to get physically and mentally prepared for [Exeter] after a tough encounter at Saracens, and as long as we keep going forward then it’s a very exciting prospect.”