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We faced lots of adversity but have to be better, says Murphy

Jonah Holmes closes in to make a tackle on Sharks wing Arron Reed at the AJ Bell Stadium
Jonah Holmes closes in to make a tackle on Sharks wing Arron Reed at the AJ Bell Stadium

Geordan Murphy admits that he could never be content in defeat, no matter what the circumstances surrounding the Gallagher Premiership trip to Sale Sharks on Friday evening.

The Leicester Tigers head coach had to select from a squad missing around 20 senior players due to internationals and injuries, then lost another in the warm-up before kick-off and one more to a red card midway through the second half as Sharks recorded a 32-5 victory in Round 16 of the league season.

“We had a very young side out, it hurts, it is disappointing,” said Murphy at the final whistle. “But I hate making excuses and I can’t be happy with defeat

“On the night we weren’t good enough to win and we made mistakes. But some decisions went against us too and it was disappointing in the end.”

Tigers had six players away with England and lost a number of men injured in the win over Wasps the previous weekend, including scrum-half duo Ben White and Sam Harrison.

“We’ve had a horrible week,” admitted Murphy. “We’ve not had many bodies in training, we had players missing, but I thought we could still take Sale on and we started the game well. We got 5-0 up and, although they were in front 10-5 at half-time, I thought if we could put the ball in the right areas we could trouble them.

“For the third try, I thought there was tackle completion in midfield, the fourth try was a 180-degree scrum and should have been reset. Big decisions like that, then the red card, things went against us.”

"We’ve not had many bodies in training, we had players missing, but I thought we could still take Sale on and we started the game well."

Geordan Murphy

On the red card, awarded as No8 Sione Kalamafoni cleared out a defensive ruck with the score at 15-5, Murphy said: “Sione is a tough guy but he didn’t mean any ill intentions. In the dressing room he is so apologetic to the team. I genuinely don’t think there was any intent.”

George Worth, who had been moved to centre this week following injury to Gareth Owen against Wasps, pulled up injured in the warm-up, which meant promoting Jordan Olowofela to the starting line-up and switching Sam Aspland-Robinson into midfield. Academy full-back Freddie Steward, a travelling reserve alongside Under-18s colleague Jonny Law, was called up to the bench and got his first Premiership experience in the closing moments of the game.

“We had nine fit backs coming into the game so it made it difficult,” said Murphy. “Freddie Steward is a schoolboy and he’s never really trained with us but he got a few minutes at the end of the game. I was happy to do that, and hopefully he will grow and learn from the experience.”

Tigers conceded six tries, with three following the sending-off, including two in the final four minutes of the contest.

“We have to be better,” added Murphy after a result which left Tigers in 10th place in the table at the conclusion of the weekend action. “We weren’t good enough. I thought the boys handled the adversity pretty well, but we made too many mistakes in the game.

“You make a couple of simple errors against quality opposition and if you are going to win you have to execute every opportunity you have and we didn’t do that.

“Sale are a very good side. We’ve struggled here in the past and they’ve signed some world-class players. I was pleased with the start but it is really difficult with 14 men, as we’ve seen a couple of times already this season, and we were a bit porous in the last seven or eight minutes.”