England out-half George Ford has delivered a damning assessment of his Leicester team as they head into a potential relegation decider with Newcastle on Friday having suffered a seven-try hammering by Premiership leaders Exeter, their heaviest defeat in the league since 1988.
Ford wasn’t even born when that previous debacle happened, but he is very much at the heart of Leicester’s current problems which sees them in 10th place just five points ahead of bottom of the table Newcastle.
To make a desperate situation even worse, Leicester will be without captain Tom Youngs and brother Ben for the rest of the season which has just four regular matches left for the once mighty Tigers. Tom was sent off in the debilitating 52-20 loss to Exeter, who are now guaranteed a home play-off tie, while Ben is out for three months after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Ford, who was one of the few Leicester players to impress against Exeter, did not hold back after the match stating: “It’s not acceptable by any means to concede 50 points. We just haven’t been good enough and that is why we are in the position we are in. The table doesn’t lie and you are in that position for a reason.
“We haven’t once talked about relegation and all we are concentrating on is the next game. With it being Newcastle who are in a similar position to us, it is a big game.
Continue reading below…
“Conceding 50 points – it’s not good is it? Not a great feeling and I don’t know if it’s a shock, it is more a case of Exeter being very good. Things unravelled in the second half and we were chasing our tails too much.
“We don’t help ourselves in games and I am not going to say that everything is going against us. It’s how you react and get momentum back in a game and things are never plain sailing over the 80 mins and we have to be better at seeing things through and come out the other end.”
Ford admits the loss of the Youngs brothers is a bitter blow to take when they need everyone on deck for the Newcastle clash. “Obviously it is a blow to lose brilliant international players like that.
“Ben is out for the rest of the season and what he can bring is an attacking threat and his experience while Tom sets our standard in the forward pack in terms of physicality but we have experienced players to come into those positions. The most important thing is to get a plan together for Newcastle and commit to it.
'This club expects to win trophies. We expect to be up there at the top and we’re not… this is not good enough'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 4, 2019
“It isn’t the biggest game I have played for Leicester – it’s just the next one. Newcastle are savvy and hard to beat. All we can do is giver ourselves the best chance to beat Newcastle on Friday night.
“We are conceding far too easily with missed tackles and gave away tries chasing the game. We have to be harder to score against and to beat. Exeter are brilliant – what a team they are – and they show how much work we have to do.”
Ford did find something to be positive about with Leicester fighting back to 28-20 at half-time before letting the game slip away and having Youngs sent off in the 56th minute.
He added: “I thought the courage we showed to keep fighting back after letting in easy points early on and they got a sizeable lead but it was a show of courage to keep fighting back and get to 20-28 at half-time. We fired a few show of our own which we haven’t done in recent weeks although its not good to lose by that many points.”
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.