Geordan Murphy has urged his Leicester Tigers players to keep fighting as his side’s relegation fears increased following a heavy 52-20 loss to Premiership league leaders Exeter Chiefs at Welford Road.
The Tigers had captain Tom Youngs sent off in a defeat which leaves Leicester 10th in the table, five points above bottom-of-the-table Newcastle Falcons, who currently occupy the relegation spot.
Leicester take on Newcastle in a crunch Premiership fixture next week.
Murphy, who was joined by veteran coach Mike Ford in the week in a bid to revitalise the struggling Tigers, now wants to see his players rally for the final four games of the season.
“Things went against us today, some big decisions, but the boys stuck at it,” Murphy said.
“We have to be tight as a group and battle through everything. They worked hard for each other, even though we made mistakes. I want them to stick together and keep working hard.
“Every game is important. It’s really tight but teams in and around us have tough games.
“It’s a precarious position. We have a huge game next week, and then the week after that we have to prepare for another three tough games against Harlequins, Bristol and Bath.”
Tigers were comfortably beaten by a ruthless Chiefs side and now have just one win from their last six Premiership games.
Exeter ran in seven tries, including four in the first-half to seal a deserved bonus-point victory.
When asked about fans leaving after an hour, Murphy said: “To be honest, I wanted to leave with them. I thought there was some fight in the boys, but after 15 or 20 minutes without a score, it’s hard for the boys.”
When asked about fans leaving after an hour, Murphy said:
? “To be honest, I wanted to leave with them. I thought there was some fight in the boys, but after 15 or 20 minutes without a score, it’s hard for the boys.”
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) April 6, 2019
Murphy’s woes deepened on 56 minutes when captain Youngs saw red for a shoulder charge on Ollie Atkins at a ruck, adding to the news that his brother Ben would miss the rest of the season through shoulder surgery.
Murphy accepted Youngs’ dismissal but wants to see more consistency from referees in that area.
“It’s a difficult call,” admitted Murphy.
“It’s a red card to the letter of the law and I get that, especially for player safety but it just needs to be refereed across the board. I see that incident a lot in the Premiership and it’s not a red card.”
Exeter head coach Ali Hepher praised his side’s mental strength as they sent out a statement to their title rivals.
“The way our attack functioned and the pace we got into the game was pleasing,” he said.
“We were able to keep the ball for good periods and find some space. We’re building nicely, we’re a mentally strong side now and that bodes well for the future.”
Hepher insists finishing in top spot in the regular Premiership season is irrelevant at this stage and wants to see his side improve.
He added: “It’s not at all important [finishing first]. It’s important how we perform through the rest of the season.
“We have to make sure we don’t let the foot off the gas. We can get better, certainly on the defensive side and elements of our attack are just gaining momentum.
“We’ve introduced a few things recently, which will soon come to fruition.”
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