The thing that most pleased Borthwick about Leicester in France
Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick praised the courage of his players as they overcame periods of intense pressure to claim a 16-13 Heineken Champions Cup victory over Bordeaux at the Stade Chaban-Delmas. The Tigers have now won 13 competitive games in succession and this was a significant opening win to their cup campaign but they had to dig deep to overcome the Top 14 leaders, with a late George Ford penalty sealing the win.
“I’m proud of these players,” said Borthwick. “When Bordeaux kicked the ball into the corner at the end, I thought, ‘Regardless of what the outcome is, I’m proud of the players’. They came here to Bordeaux and had a real go.
“They had the courage to play a little bit different and the courage to have a go. Bordeaux are a brilliant team, with threats all around the park. We wanted to challenge them in a different way so that they would have to think a little bit differently.
“There is a lot of potential to be a good team. They have got an attitude in wanting to get better and, from my point of view, it’s a pleasure to coach them.”
George Ford kicked eleven points for Leicester with Guy Porter scoring their only try, while Jean-Baptiste Dubie touched down for Bordeaux as Maxime Lucu added eight points. Bordeaux second row Kaine Douglas was sent to the sin bin for a swinging arm early on and the Tigers took advantage with Porter touching down after a Bryce Hegarty break.
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After laying siege to the Bordeaux try line, Ford opted for a cross-kick, but Hosea Saumaki ended up taking Nans Ducuing out in the air. Referee Andrew Brace was left with no option but to show Saumaki a yellow card. After a period of sustained pressure, Bordeaux centre Moram Falatea-Moefana carried forward, before executing a perfect offload to put Dubie over for the try. Lucu added the extras meaning the scores were level at 10-10 at half-time.
With four minutes left on the clock, Ford knocked over a penalty from 45 metres out to put the Tigers back in front. Bordeaux turned down a kickable penalty to level the scores at the last play of the game, but they refused to accept the draw and went for the corner. But after a few powerful carries, they were penalised with Leicester coming out on top.
Despite the impressive run of Leicester form, Borthwick insisted he would not be getting carried away. “From my perspective, I don’t think too much about what’s happened in the past,” he said. “All I’m really concentrating on is what can we do to get better after this game – and we’ll continue with that.
“If you start thinking too much about what happened in the past you can get stuck there and maybe that’s what Leicester Tigers did as a club. We’ll take lessons from this, enjoy this, and then we’ve got a Sunday game coming up against Connacht at Welford Road.”