Richard Wigglesworth admitted it was a case of too little too late for his side in the final regular season game of the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership.
Despite falling to Harlequins by just three points, 17-20, the Leicester Tigers Interim Head Coach admitted his team were chasing the game after a first half display which wasn’t up to standard.
“We weren’t good enough in the first half today, plain and simple,” said Wigglesworth.
“Harlequins came with a good plan and executed it well, which had us chasing the game, and they deserved the win today.
“I am really proud of the fight we showed in that second half, especially being down a man for the entirety of it, to be in with a sniff of a win at the end.”
Speaking further on the performance, he added: “We were off in all areas in the first 40 minutes.”
“I am not sure I can pinpoint one area because we didn’t dominate in any of them; you name it, we were second best in the first half and it ultimately cost us the win.
“But, look, we got back into it and did what we do well to be in with a chance. We’d like to be more clinical, yes, but I can’t fault the fight of the lads today.”
Almost 25,000 supporters packed into Mattioli Woods Welford Road for the final home game of the campaign, which Wigglesworth said was another sign of just how special the Leicester Tigers fan base was.
“When we started coming back into the game, that atmosphere was just something else,” he said.
“We’re like a broken record in how much we talk about what the support means but you just have to look out there now at the scenes and the atmosphere the Leicester Tigers fans created today to see why we say what we do and why we say it so often.
“Hopefully there are a big group of them up in Sale next weekend, cheering the boys on.”
The entire Leicester Tigers squad, including those players who did not feature in the match, returned to the pitch following the game to spend time with supporters on the pitch and the Head Coach couldn’t hide his delight at the scenes of players and fans mixing on the historic turf.
“This is a massive club, the biggest and best in England without doubt,” Wigglesworth said.
“The support we get, the support I have had is like nothing else in this competition and maybe in the game of rugby.
“I thought it was wonderful for the lads to get the chance to go out and spend time with fans at the end. Those little things, those moments and time together are so special and made even more so with the amount of supporters we have at Leicester Tigers.”
Looking ahead to next weekend’s semi-final, away to Sale Sharks, Wigglesworth was honest in his appraisal of the in-form side led by good mate Alex Sanderson.
“Alex [Sanderson] is an elite level coach and got the Sale Sharks singing this season, they’re a brilliant team and been a benchmark all season,” he said.
“He has no doubt been planning for this for quite a while and we know how good he is, how good they are and how tough the challenge will be next weekend.
“Not too many semi-finals got won away from home but we’re up for the fight, we’re excited for the challenge.”
Asked about what they had done in preparation for the meeting, he added: “We have done our due diligence; we’ve seen a team who are playing very well, who know what they want to do and will be a huge challenge next week.”
“They’ve earned the right to be at home in a Premiership semi-final and be favourites for the game.”
In the first of the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership semi-finals, Saracens host Northampton Saints on Saturday (May 13) before Leicester Tigers face Sale Sharks on Sunday at the AJ Bell stadium.