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Leicester Tigers’ European Cup defeat by Racing 92 an ‘emotional rollercoaster’, says Geordan Murphy

The Independent logo The Independent 10/12/2018 Sports Staff
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Geordan Murphy described Leicester’s 36-26 Heineken Champions Cup defeat to Racing 92 as an “emotional roller coaster” following a thrilling encounter in Paris.

The Tigers never gave up and scored four tries to seal a losing bonus point which just about keeps their hopes of European progression alive.

In the end Racing’s power game proved too much as they scored five tries through Virimi Vakatawa, Juan Imhoff, Simon Zebo, Baptiste Chouzenoux and Olivier Klemenczak.

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Leicester’s efforts came via Jonah Holmes, Sione Kalamafoni, Manu Tuilagi and Adam Thompstone.

“We’re disappointed in the result. I feel like I’ve played in the game to be honest,” said Leicester head coach Murphy.

“It was an emotional roller coaster. We wanted to play fast and on that surface we thought we’d get opportunities to get some points on the board.

“We conceded too easily in the first half and gave ourselves a mountain to climb. We worked incredibly hard and stuck together and I’m proud of the boys for hanging in there.

“Some big decisions went against them and it was an improvement from last week.

“I’m never going to be happy with a loss. That’s the nature of the game.

“But I’m pleased we did a lot of the things we talked about and – at the end of the game – we’ve got Ben White, a scrum-half, playing on the wing and making line breaks. I was very proud of his performance.”

Leicester saw Tuilagi yellow carded for a deliberate first-half knock on, but the opening 40 minutes was an end-to-end encounter.

a man standing in front of a crowd: Racing-92.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Racing-92.jpg

Racing went into the break with a 26-14 lead and a bonus point already in the bag thanks to tries from Vakatawa, Imhoff, Zebo and Chouzenoux.

Fly-half Finn Russell – who ended the game with 11 points – pulled the strings from fly-half.

After the break, Tigers prop Ellis Genge saw yellow again for a ruck infringement, but Murphy’s men never went away.

Klemenczak grabbed Racing’s fifth, but Tuilagi and Thompstone added to first-half Leicester efforts from Holmes and Kalamafoni.

Thompstone’s try came following excellent approach work and a quick line-out from George Ford.

The two sides meet again this weekend with Leicester third in Pool 4 on six points.

“Racing are a quality side and when they got close to our goal line they executed their power game very well,” Murphy added.

“We had opportunities to clear the danger at the start of the second half, but we couldn’t do that and it was disappointing we let them put the game beyond us.

“There were so many positives for us to take into next week. It’s a tough place to come and it’s always good to get a bonus point on the road – but I wish we’d got more.

“Racing have a quality squad so who knows who they’ll bring next week, but we just have to focus on ourselves and prepare properly.

“You can’t question the passion and endeavour of the group. It was a great game to watch if you weren’t a coach.”

PA

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