Steve Borthwick on Tigers win and Ellis Genge decision

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Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick praised his side after they continued their unbeaten run with a 29-23 victory over Connacht in the Champions Cup on Sunday.

The English team moved this term’s winning streak on to 13 games but it seemed unlikely at one stage as Connacht were – for large parts of the game – on top.

Leicester’s crossings came from Nic Dolly, Bryce Hegarty, Freddie Steward and Hosea Saumaki as Hegarty kicked two conversions and a penalty, while Freddie Burns added a conversion.

Connacht captain Jack Carty scored 18 of their points with a try, two penalties, two conversions and a drop goal, while wing John Porch was also on the scoresheet with their first try.

Really pleasing

Borthwick said: “They really challenged us today as they played a smart game in the first half. At that stage we made too many errors and gave away too many penalties and they capitalised on those.

“What was really pleasing was that our team were able to grab hold of the game and change it in the second half as I thought the players managed the situation really well and the last 30 minutes were pretty good.”

Leicester won the game despite being without leading lights George Ford and skipper Ellis Genge, who are both departing at the end of the season to Sale and Bristol respectively.

Borthwick added: “Ellis first came to me a few weeks ago to indicate that he was considering returning to Bristol to be near his family.

“Personal reasons were explained to me and last week he confirmed the position. Nothing has changed; he is still a strong influence on the group and was terrific as a 24th man today.”

Connacht head coach Andy Friend displayed mixed emotions after the final whistle as his side continued their miserable run of results in England.

In the professional era, Connacht have now lost 25 of their 29 games in England, having not tasted success since a victory at Worcester in the 2009/10 season.

Friend said: “There’s a lot of frustration in the dressing room as we came to win and not just get a bonus point.

“Things could have been different if we had executed better to take our opportunities and you know the likely outcome if you can’t get territory and concede yellow cards at Welford Road in the last 20 minutes.

“We showed we had a game plan to hurt teams and a lot of teams would be happy to come away from here with a bonus point.

“It was the biggest stage for some of the lads and there may have been a bit of nerves but we are OK with six points after our opening two games in Europe.”

Johann van Graan happy with win after tough spell

Meanwhile, Munster boss Johann van Graan believes his team’s successive Champions Cup victories against Wasps and Castres Olympique came at the right time after “a real mental battle the last few weeks” due to the province’s Covid-19 crisis.

On Saturday against Castres at Thomond Park, young fly-half Ben Healy made his first European start and led the way as he slotted four penalties as Munster repelled Castres in a turgid 19-13 win.

Number eights Jack O’Donoghue and Kevin Kornath traded tries, the latter’s score earning the visitors a losing bonus point during the game’s latter stages.

It has been a whirlwind spell for Van Graan, whose departure to Bath at the end of the season was confirmed this week. An ill-fated United Rugby Championship trip to South Africa saw Munster begin their European campaign with 34 players in quarantine, yet they still managed to beat Wasps in the opening round last week.

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