Steve Borthwick hails Leicester players after late win

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  • Steve Borthwick
    English rugby union footballer and coach

Steve Borthwick has heaped praise on his Leicester side for their ability to “fight” until the final whistle as the unbeaten Tigers narrowly beat Bristol in a classic encounter at Ashton Gate.

Bristol looked to be putting an end to the Tigers’ unbeaten run as they led in added time.

However, Borthwick’s side managed to create a try for replacement Guy Porter with the clock showing four minutes past the 80, snatching the win from Bristol.

Tigers became the first team since Harlequins in 2011/12 to start a campaign with 10 successive Premiership victories.

Fighting spirit

“The spirit of the players and their fight was outstanding,” head coach Borthwick said.

“We made errors in the game and weren’t perfect but one thing that is unquestionable about these guys is their fight. Whatever gets thrown at them, they keep finding a way to overcome it and that is credit to them.

“It didn’t matter what situation the players found themselves in in that game, they found a way through it.

“There are things we will do a lot better and we will fix some things but the way the players thought through the game was outstanding.

“The supporters have a lot of pride in this team and I am delighted for them that we can bring them some joy. We will enjoy this game and then get on with next weekend.”

Ultimately, Tigers skipper Ellis Genge was not to be denied victory over his hometown club prior to joining them next summer.

It was a sometimes frustrating afternoon for Genge, who became involved in a second-half skirmish with Bristol prop and his England front-row colleague Kyle Sinckler.

But Porter, wing Nemani Nadolo and hooker Julian Montoya scored tries for the Tigers, with fly-half George Ford adding three penalties and two conversions.

Bristol, meanwhile, posted touchdowns from number eight Fitz Harding and wing Ioan Lloyd, while fly-half Callum Sheedy kicked 16 points.

Borthwick added: “There are always things you want to do better but I really enjoy seeing the players go out there and fight as hard as they can. They show what it means and I enjoy that.”

For Bristol, it was their seventh league defeat of a campaign which sees them remain in the bottom three.

Reflecting on a crushing late reversal, Bristol rugby director Pat Lam said: “I have been in a few of those before.

“I have been on both sides and I feel for the players and I feel for the supporters because it was a great game.

“I said before the game it would be like a Test match and up until the last play we were going pretty well.

“We had five minutes to go and we had moments there to finish the game off and cap off a very, very good performance. It wasn’t to be.

“You have got to give credit to Leicester. They are having a great season and are top of the league.

“It doesn’t take away from what we did because of the effort but it is hard because of the result. Most of the game, the boys stuck to the script.

“There was a lot of excitement and energy and the boys brought all of it. Unfortunately, when we scored, we conceded. We had opportunities to finish it off but we didn’t.”

Marcus Smith and James Chisholm test positive for Covid

Harlequins duo Marcus Smith (fly-half) and James Chisholm (back-row) have both tested positive for coronavirus, the club have confirmed.

The duo returned a positive test for Covid-19 via a PCR test earlier this week and have been ruled out Monday’s ‘Big Game 13’ against Northampton Saints at Twickenham.

A Harlequins statement said: “Due to health and welfare regulations all players must observe a clear graded return to match intensity fitness following a positive Covid-19 result before returning to match action.

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