Sunday 25 February 2018

O'Connor settles for point as Tigers stumble

Leicester Tigers head coach Matt O'Connor
Leicester Tigers head coach Matt O'Connor

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Leicester head coach Matt O'Connor has admitted Racing 92 deserved to edge their Champions Cup tie in Paris.

First-half tries from Luke Hamilton and Jonny May failed to stop the Tigers from slipping to a 22-18 defeat, meaning O'Connor had to settle for a point.

"We've got no complaints with the final result and we've got to be better. There were a couple of opportunities to score tries. If you don't take those you don't win," he said.

"Leone Nakarawa got behind us and that was the difference."

O'Connor added: "There's a lot of disappointment in the dressing room, but if we had come away empty-handed then it would have been a waste.

"Thankfully we got a game point out of it, you stay alive in the group, and we come back to Welford Road next week against Castres. We have got to put out another big performance then."

An entertaining first period saw Racing score three tries to Leicester's two.

Hamilton opened the scoring, sprinting in from 15 metres, while George Ford converted. Right at the end of the half May added the Tigers' second. It was the winger's seventh try in seven games for Leicester.

In response, Racing scored three tries of their own. The outstanding Nakarawa crossed in the 18th minute and Bernard Le Roux and wing Teddy Thomas added further scores.

"He's a special athlete," O'Connor said of Fijian Nakarawa. "He's a big man who offloads and moves really well. Once he's behind you, it is very difficult.

In the second-half Leicester's impressive line speed and defence kept Racing at bay. The only points in the second 40 minutes saw Racing replacement Maxime Machenaud and Leicester's England fly-half Ford exchange penalties.

Ford's effort set up a grandstand finish, but Racing held on as both teams ended the game with something to show for their efforts.

Irish Independent

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