Geordan Murphy said he felt nothing but pride in the Leicester Tigers players despite narrow defeat at Bath in Friday evening.
After both sides won their opening fixture in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, Tigers went to the Recreation Ground with a team including 10 academy graduates and five more youngsters on the bench, including two teenagers.
They looked like they were heading for victory at Bath, only to concede a late penalty try at a scrum as the hosts edged to a 33-31 win.
But far from despondent, coach Murphy said: “All I asked of the boys was to go out and enjoy it, give it their all and play with pride and passion. And they did that. You cannot fault them.
“The result could have gone either way. Bath had a lot of experience out there and experience off the bench, and we were hanging on at the end. But to a man, I am really proud of the boys.
“Tom Hardwick was very good, Ben White was good, Harry Simmons at full-back, Jordan Olowofela in midfield, Jonah Holmes took his tries and worked hard, all of them. The forwards went about their business and I thought Harry Wells’ performance in the second row was epic. He was off the line in defence for 80 minutes and got around the park.”
Holmes scored twice, to go with one in the win over Gloucester in the Anglo-Welsh opener last weekend, with Ben White and Adam Thompstone also on the scoresheet as Tigers took a try bonus and a losing bonus to move on to six points from two games in the pool stages.
“If anything, I’m happier this week than I was in victory last week, which is really unusual for me,” added Murphy. “I wasn’t too pleased with the performance against Gloucester – we got the points but it was a disappointing performance. Tonight we were much better and we didn’t get the win.
“We learned a lot of lessons, our discipline probably let us down a bit tonight and there were some big momentum points in the game. When we scored points we let Bath back into the game very quickly.
“But there are some really good pictures for the boys to watch and learn from now and hopefully to develop as players.”