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'I can’t believe I’m sitting here as a losing coach'

By PA
Dan McKellar, the head coach of Leicester Tigers looks on during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Harlequins at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium on November 11, 2023 in Leicester, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam said he never lost belief his players would come away from Leicester with a result after their 21-19 Gallagher Premiership comeback victory at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

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Lam and his staff would have been forgiven for thinking it was not going to be their side’s day as they trailed 19-0 against a Tigers side who had to win to keep their flickering play-off hopes alive.

Instead, Magnus Bradbury scored a last-gasp try as Bristol completed an amazing comeback – after Leicester’s Mike Brown had been sent off – to remain fourth in the table, ahead of Harlequins on points difference.

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Lam said: “I know we can score four or five tries in the space of 10 to 15 minutes, so I was looking at the clock and said: ‘Keep going, keep believing’.

“That’s why at half-time I was showing them there was plenty of opportunity here and they were doing exactly what we’re doing – let’s just make sure we do what we’ve got to do.

Match Summary

0
Penalty Goals
0
3
Tries
3
2
Conversions
3
0
Drop Goals
0
123
Carries
156
4
Line Breaks
6
15
Turnovers Lost
22
4
Turnovers Won
4

“We just weren’t quite accurate and a couple of guys weren’t in the right places (in the first half), so they knew that if we don’t try and make something happen, just be in a position and someone will make a line break and then get to them.

“Then just keep going and try and keep the tempo up because we could see they were starting to get heavy on their feet, with their big forwards, as well.”

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Two tries from Ollie Hassell-Collins and a close-range effort from Francois Van Wyk built what looked certain to be a winning lead for Leicester.

But Max Lahiff scored either side of Brown receiving a second yellow card for a head-on-head collision with Benhard Janse Van Rensburg before Alan MacGinty’s conversion of Bradbury’s last-minute try completed an amazing turnaround.

Leicester head coach Dan McKellar said: “Ultimately, the second card for Brownie hurt us – 19-7 up, we were well in control of that game.

“(We had) a line-out in the A-zone, instead it was a penalty against you, you go down to 14 and they’re a tough team to defend against with 14.

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“I thought we were outstanding today for 70-odd minutes and to be honest I can’t believe I’m sitting here as a losing coach.

“We just need to reflect on the whole year; that’s another close loss at home when you think of Sale, Harlequins, Gloucester and now Bristol.

“You win those games – those tight ones at home – and all of a sudden, you’re sitting pretty in the top four.

“There’s a lot of learnings to come out of this year, but at the right time we’ll look at that and review it and make sure we’re better for it.”

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