Leicester Tigers Head Coach Steve Borthwick shares his thoughts on the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to Leinster Rugby.
Speaking after the nine-point, 14-23 loss at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, the Leicester Tigers Head Coach said: “We needed to be more clinical, that’s the immediate takeaway from today for us.”
“It is not flamboyance that wins you these knockout games, it’s doing the basics well and doing them well every single time from start to finish.
“The first half was a bit regrettable and then when you are down 20-0 at the break, well that’s a long, long way to climb against a side of Leinster’s quality and experience.”
The second-half told a different story, with Leicester recording 14 points to Leinster’s three, and when asked about what was said at half-time, Borthwick admitted it was very simply put to his players.
“The message was pretty simple: let’s go and have a go at them,” said Borthwick.
“We knew we had a big lead to chip away at and, as they have every game this season, the players fought hard for one another and showed their grit to get themselves back in the contest.”
While disappointed, Borthwick still cut a proud figure when speaking about his players and the journey to this stage of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup.
“I think back to the performances we have seen during this European season and the adventure we have been on as a group,” he said.
“I am incredibly proud of what we have done in Europe this season and the things we can take away from the campaign; the debuts we have seen, the memories we have made and the performances, most against the odds, at home and away.
“As an adventure, all together, it has been a great learning experience and something I think this young Leicester Tigers group can use as a springboard to continue carrying the club forward.”
In the club’s return to Europe’s top competition, Tigers recorded doubles over Connacht and Clermont, as well as victory away from home over Bordeaux.
Speaking about the “adventure” for his side and what they will come away with from this season’s European campaign, Borthwick added: “All experiences are beneficial - win or lose.”
“What we have to do now is maximise the learning from this entire European adventure, we have to take everything we can from it to continue on this journey as a club.
“Five of our entire squad have played in Champions Cup quarter-final before now, so this is all new for the majority of us and we have to learn from it.”
Tigers are without a fixture next weekend before travelling to Newcastle Falcons in the penultimate round of this season’s Gallagher Premiership.
Following that Leicester welcome Wasps in the final game of the regular season and then head into the knockout stages of the domestic competition.
However, while a semi-final place may be secured, there is no change to the consistent theme of the season to date.
“The players will have a few extra days to recharge, physically and emotionally as well,” said Borthwick.
“They have earned that, they need it. We have had a lot of games recently, including mid-week fixtures, and so they will have a few days to recharge before we get straight into preparing for Falcons away.
“We won’t change the way we have approached every game this season, which is that we only look at the next game and - in that game - we need to be better than we were today. We must keep improving.”