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Borthwick: 'He's been terrific' - Forgotten England star on fire for Leicester

By PA
Steve Borthwick /PA

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Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick praised the impact fly-half Freddie Burns has made in his second spell at the club, as he orchestrated his side’s 35-20 Gallagher Premiership victory over Northampton.

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Burns, who was standing in for England’s George Ford, had an eventful East Midlands derby, as he was forced off for part of the first half due to a Head Injury Assessment (HIA), but while he was on the field, he was very much on-song.

The 31-year-old returned to the Tigers last summer following a spell in Japanese rugby and he finished with a personal haul of 15 points, while being at the forefront of the leaders’ most incisive attacks.

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Borthwick said: “He’s been terrific since the day he returned.

“Our supporters played a big part in persuading him to come back to this club and he’s been terrific.

“Whatever role he’s been asked to do, he’s done it.

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“He’s been excellent and there were a lot of really good performances on Friday night.

“We’ve come off two six-day turnarounds against a team that came off a bye, but the players fought really hard and they should be really proud of themselves.”

On the nature of the victory, Borthwick said: “What really pleased me was that we showed such composure after conceding an early try. We played really well.

“There are clearly areas to work on – we conceded a couple of tries we wouldn’t want to give away and a couple of penalties – but we’re really pleased with the effort of the guys.

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“We want to keep growing and keep building.”

Alex Mitchell opened the scoring for Northampton before Leicester stormed into 22-5 lead through Nemani Nadolo’s double and Julian Montoya’s pushover try.

Courtnall Skosan pulled a score back for Saints, but Bryce Hegarty effectively finished the match as a contest, rendering Karl Wilkins’ late effort a consolation.

Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd said: “I’m really disappointed to lose for the second time in a season to the Tigers – that hasn’t happened for a number of years.

“We’re disappointed with the outcome and disappointed with quite a few parts of the performance, so disappointment all-round.

“In the last 15 or 20 minutes of the first half, we loosened up and managed to score a try then we were unlucky not to score a second one, a good bit of defence from them.

“But at the end of the day we were under pressure from them physically, we were under pressure from our decision-making.

“I think we tried to overplay and we were under pressure from the referee’s whistle, which all came from various parts of pressure.

“The discipline came from the fact we weren’t getting our way in the physical battles.”

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