As Leicester Tigers’ campaign in the Premiership Rugby Cup ended in the derby round on Saturday, head coach Geordan Murphy reviewed the team’s efforts from each of the four fixtures ahead of the start of the league programme:
Worcester Warriors, away, lost 23-57
“The competition allowed us to get gametime into the squad and, with 10 players away, it is important to have everyone ready for week one in the league season. In week one of the Cup we had some experienced players on a down week after a long and tough pre-season and we used a lot of young players. But there were some hugely pleasing things I saw there.
We had 16 graduates from the academy, there were six or seven 18-year-olds, and I’m proud of that. It was a bit of a gamble on that game but some young men really stood up.
It’s not often you see a scoreline like that and come away with positives, but I have a lot of faith in that group and they deserved a chance. It is all about building.”
Exeter Chiefs, home, won 27-7
“I thought it was a great occasion back at Welford Road. It was always going to be tough on the back of the disappointment of last season, but the fans almost took a leap of faith and it was hugely impressive. The atmosphere was great, the crowd was so loud, they got in behind the team and the players responded.
“It was a decent performance with more experience in the team and it was obviously good to get a win at home. We defended very well against their driving game and we looked pretty sharp on the ball.”
Bath Rugby, away, won 18-7
“The spirit was great at Bath. We had defended well for long periods, but the most pleasing thing was that we stuck to our plan – both when we had 15 men and when we lost Taf to a red card. There was no panic, the guys dug in, they stayed in the game.
“Bath got an interception try to get back into it at the start of the second half, but we defended well not only back on our own line but also in the Bath half when we pushed them back and forced them to try to play out from there.”
Northampton Saints, home, lost 22-31
“Derby matches are special but all along we’ve said this period is all about getting ready for the Premiership. We’ve had a long pre-season, we knew we had some issues to address and the players have been excellent in how they’ve gone about their work from day one.
“We made a few changes, we got gametime into players and also looked at the combinations, getting guys up to speed.
“Overall, it was a disappointing day. After 20 minutes we hadn’t had a touch of the ball, but then we got into the game, we got up on the scoreboard and led 22-14. We stuck to the systems and scored some very good tries.
“But Saints upped their performance in the last 20 minutes and we turned over too much ball. I thought we forced it a little and got into a bit of a carnival atmosphere. But they deserved their win, they scored some good tries.”