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Rugby News

Opening-day display provides a positive step

As a ‘first step’ in the new season, Steve Borthwick says the Leicester Tigers performance on Saturday provided a combination of pleasure with a win, satisfaction in improvement and hunger to keep building in all areas going forward.

Three tries in the opening 25 minutes of the seasonal opener against Gloucester Rugby gave Tigers the impetus to go on and secure a 38-15 bonus-point win at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

“I’m certainly pleased with the win,” head coach Borthwick said. “And there were great lessons in that game for us to work on and build on.

“In the latter part of the 19/20 season we were putting building blocks in place and, from there, it is about having a really good understanding of what we needed to put our focus on.

“This is one step, a positive step, and now we have to make sure we work exceptionally hard to improve our performance for next week.”

On a landmark day for the club in the 2,500th first-team game played at the stadium, the Tigers forward pack supplied a strong platform and set-piece, with the team showing energy in attack and defence on the way to a winning start.

“From my first day here, the character of the players has been outstanding and their desire to improve has been tremendous,” Borthwick added. “We have those attributes and we will continue to build and improve.

“The players deserve enormous credit for dealing with all of the challenges thrown at them. We’ve never once heard any excuses. There are challenges and we will adapt as much as we possibly can.

“This was the 2,500th game and our supporters couldn’t be here, but I know they will have been watching and this is one step for us.”

Tries from Kobus van Wyk, Tom Youngs and Richard Wigglesworth on his debut gave Tigers a 19-3 lead inside half an hour, and two penalties from Zack Henry played an important part after the visitors closed the gap to seven points at 22-15 before Charlie Clare added the bonus-point score late on.

Borthwick added: “We’ve started to add some building blocks in attack, and Matt Smith deserves enormous credit with the players in that. It’s in the early stages, but we are committed to building on what we’ve started.

“It’s great to see Richard Wigglesworth and Jasper Wiese play their first game for Leicester Tigers, and for Tito Bonilla and Cyle Brink to play their first game. Cyle has worked tremendously hard to overcome a tough injury to get back out and play today.

“We’ve got those players coming in, there are players who played only a few games last season and two still to join us, and there is excitement going forward. We need to ensure we look at this very closely and be very clear on what we need to improve on going forward.”

Tigers return to action with a trip to London Irish and their new home in Brentford next Sunday.