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Dan McKellar to probe 'very flat' Leicester Tigers opener

By PA
Leicester Tigers players looking dejected - PA

Leicester’s new head coach Dan McKellar accepted that his side were comfortably second best as they lost 25-14 at Bristol in the Gallagher Premiership’s opening fixture.

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Tigers trailed 25-0 after a one-sided first 50 minutes, before showing some fight to score two tries and give the final scoreline some respectability at Ashton Gate.

Dan Kelly and Hanro Liebenberg scored those tries, with Charlie Atkinson and Jamie Shillcock each adding a conversion.

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For Bristol, man of the match Gabriel Ibitoye scored two tries and Harry Thacker also crossed, with AJ MacGinty adding two conversions and James Williams kicking two penalties.

McKellar said: “In that first 40 minutes we were well beaten in all areas. We were slow out of the blocks and very flat and will have to review it thoroughly and find a solution to it.

“There were too many individual errors to gift them field position but there is nothing major that we are not able to fix.

“We will learn plenty from tonight and we showed plenty of fight in the second half as there were some really good contributions from the bench.

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“Kyle Hatherall got us moving forward with some good carries and had we managed another try, there could have well been a grandstand finish.

“A number of our bench players put their hands up for selection next week.”

Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam was disappointed his side failed to pick up a bonus point by being unable to add to their 25-point tally in the final half hour.

He said: “I am frustrated as we sat back on our lead and played within ourselves.

“We were kicking when we should have been running and therefore putting ourselves under pressure when all the pressure had been on them in the first half.

“However it was a great start and it was particularly pleasing that we were able to execute well a number of pre-season ideas that we worked on, including the pre-planned move for our first try.

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“I was impressed with our physicality, which you always need against Leicester, and our kicking game was really good.”

Ten minutes from the end their star signing, former France international centre Virimi Vakatawa, was introduced for his club debut.

Lam said: “He will be a star in the Premiership and that’s what people want to see.

“He only arrived last week and has had just training sessions so his involvement was obviously limited tonight.”

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