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Rugby News

Poor start left us too much to do says O'Connor

Jonny May threatens a break but the Tigers wing ended the game early after collecting a second yellow card
Jonny May threatens a break but the Tigers wing ended the game early after collecting a second yellow card

Matt O’Connor says Leicester Tigers pad the price for a poor start in the defeat by Saracens at Welford Road on Christmas Eve.

Tigers were 17 points down after less than half an hour on the way to a 29-17 defeat which also saw wing Jonny May collect two yellow cards for deliberate knock-ons in defence.

“We were inaccurate, they played the percentages better than us and took the points on offer, full credit to them, they deserved the result,” said Tigers head coach O’Connor as Saracens ended a run of seven successive defeats in all tournaments.

“You cannot drop points at home. We were poor today, we have to be better. We were too indisciplined at key moments which gave them points and allowed them to build on their good start.

“We had opportunities and by half-time I thought we’d done a pretty good job of getting back into the game and we knew what we had to do in the second half. But a bit of indiscipline and errors cost us there."

A try for Mathew Tait and then a penalty try from an attacking scrum cut the deficit to 17-23 on the hour before Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell kicked two more penalties to put the game out of reach.

“We were chasing the game and you never want to chase it against Saracens because they make you work hard for everything," added O'Connor. "They were clinical, they took their chances, they got the scoreboard pressure. They’re probably the best around at protecting a lead and that made it hard for the rest of the afternoon.”

May was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on as Saracens were awarded a penalty try after just 11 minutes and received another in defence with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game as Tigers ended a man short.

“I thought it was a harsh second yellow – it’s a reflex,” said O’Connor. “The bloke flicks the ball and Jonny sticks his hand out.”

Tigers go to Exeter Chiefs on New Year’s Eve (3.00pm) for a sell-out game in Round 12 of the Aviva Premiership season before hosting London Irish in the opening game of 2018 on Saturday, January 6 (3.00pm). Tickets are available now.