Geordan Murphy described Leicester Tigers’ defensive display as “exemplary” after kicking off the European campaign with back-to-back wins.
A Tom Hardwick penalty with the last kick of the game gave Tigers a 14-11 win against Cardiff Blues in Wales on Saturday evening, backing up the bonus-point victory over Pau in Round 1 of the European Challenge Cup.
But it was reward for a gutsy performance from a young Tigers team which included 13 players who have come through the club’s academy system alongside internationals Ellis Genge and Tomas Lavanini.
“It was a big challenge for a young group and I got a lot of criticism for the selection, but we have got some injuries and some guys need down-time,” said head coach Murphy after a win which took Tigers top of Pool 5 ahead of the December double-header against Calvisano.
“But we had a really good pre-season so fitness is high and everyone stuck at it for each other and for the plan.
“I thought our defence was exemplary. At times they really played well and exposed us and they kicked well, but we had some really good defence. That Sam Costelow last-gasp defence was just enough to keep out that late chance, but I thought it was indicative of our performance as a whole.”
After falling behind to two penalties from Blues fly-half Jarrod Evans, Tigers created a try for No8 Jordan Coghlan but were 11-8 behind at half-time after conceding a score from wing Aled Summerhill.
It was Summerhill who was later denied by a last-ditch tackle from European debutant Costelow who just managed to do enough to force him into touch as he reached out to dot down in the corner. But fly-half Tom Hardwick added the only points of the second half, kicking the scores level on 60 minutes and then nailing the winning shot with 80 minutes already on the clock.
“It wasn’t pretty at times,” added Murphy. “But it was gritty and for a young group to show that, I was really proud of the performance.
“It’s great for this squad. I spoke to the guys on Tuesday and said people would question the selection and it was a case of circle the wagons and see what we have got in this group.
“Discipline was not as good as I would like, the breakdown could be better, but you cannot question the heart because the guys showed it in abundance.”
Tigers go to Northampton Saints on Saturday in the fifth round of the Gallagher Premiership season before resuming the Challenge Cup campaign with home-and-away ties against Italian side Calvisano.
Brive Preview: Andy Friend
With two wins from two in this seasons Challenge Cup Connacht will look to keep their 100% record going this weekend as they face Brive at The Sportsground on Saturday.
Last Saturday saw Connacht beat South African side Sharks in the URC and getting a bonus point win. Speaking ahead of the European tie this weekend Connacht Director of Rugby Andy Friend spoke about the mood in the camp this week.
“With the conditions we had it was lovely to get the win but the bonus point as the name suggests was a bonus” said Friend
“Its very hard to play rugby in those conditions”
“All the scores were slightly different and as a team we felt there was a lot of areas there that we were really happy with coming off the field”
“Our defence was brilliant with a 91% success rate which is the level we’re at and need to keep at”
“Its a happy camp heading into this weeks game but as always we have things to work on”
With everything to play for in both competitions for Connacht Andy feels now is where the squads depth will be really tested especially with a few injuries mounting up.
“Both competitions are important to us and both are still alive, it is good to be back in the Challenge Cup as we are two from two so we would like to continue that momentum”
“In terms of our squad I think the rotation has worked well for us by keeping players fresh”
“We have a few injuries mounting up so we are probably forced to make a couple of changes”
Brive have been in good form of late with three wins from their last three games but with two defeats in the Challenge Cup already questions will be asked about their commitment and if that seeps into the Connacht players mind that this could be an easy day out.
“I think we faced that last week against the Sharks as there was a lot of talk about them resting some of their big players but at the end of the day it was still a Sharks team and we had to be ready” said Friend
“It will be the same for Brive this weekend, post our last game with them they have beaten Clermont, Lyon and Toulon”
“They’re playing good footie and finding that winning mentality and they will be coming here wanting to turn the table on us”
It was announced this week that Connacht’s Attack and Skills coach Mossy Lawler is heading to Munster at the end of the season. The departure will see two of Connacht’s coaching setup leave with this season being Andy Friend’s final season with the province.
“Mossy has been brilliant during his time here at Connacht” said Friend
“As we know he’s a Limerick man, his family is in Limerick so its great he can be closer to his wife and kids”
“I’m pleased for Mossy that he has this opportunity to move home”
“He will be missed here no doubt about that”
“In terms of the wider coaching ticket there’s a process in place at the moment and I have no doubt it will be a strong coaching ticket next year”
Tickets for Saturday’s game available HERE
Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby
All you need to know: Connacht v Brive
It’s back to European Rugby this Saturday as we welcome French side CA Brive to The Sportsground for Round 3 of the Challenge Cup.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s game.
When’s the game?
Kick-off is 5.30pm on Saturday 14th January.
What’s the state of play so far?
After two wins from two in their opening Round games of Europe Connacht find themselves in a great position to make the knockout stages of the tournament. Last weekend in the URC Connacht beat the Sharks at home 24-12.
Brive are in good form of late having won their last three games in the Top 14 including a 26-17 win over Toulon last weekend.
How’s our recent record against them?
Our last meeting against Brive was back in December where Connacht won 31-24.
- Bri 24-31 Con
- Con 55-10 Bri
- Bri 31-38 Con
How will the two teams line up?
The Connacht management team will announce their squad on Friday at midday when it will be named on connachtrugby.ie and the Connacht Rugby social channels.
How do I get tickets?
Tickets available HERE
What channel is it on?
TV viewing on EPCR TV and Galway Bay FM have live radio commentary.
Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby
Andy Friend: Preview to Brive
Connacht are on the road this week as they travel to France to take on CA Brive this Friday at the Stade Amedee-Domenech in Round 2 of the Challenge Cup, kick-off is 8pm Irish time.
Connacht Director of Rugby Andy Friend was speaking ahead of the game where he discussed last Saturday’s win over Newcastle Falcons at The Sportsground.
‘It was a game where I thought our tenacity and physicality shone through which was pleasing”
“They were a tough side and you know when you are playing an English side that they are going to be big and physical and Newcastle brought were”
“In the end we were happy with the overall all performance”
The attitude from the players this season have been pleasing for Andy and the coaching team but as a whole the squad are still aiming to play their best game.
“I think with each game that goes by there’s a strong belief in our identity which is that never say die attitude” said Friend.
“I know we still need to be better at finishing off some of those opportunities we get”
“We still haven’t played our best game yet but our forward pack continues to grow, defensively we’ve worked really hard so things are coming together and more consistency is showing”
Last Saturday saw some new faces get game time and ahead of this Friday there’s a chance of seeing more change.
“We have good competition for selection this week”
“It was great seeing the likes of Cathal Forde out at the weekend, Oisin McCormack got his first cap and did very well and no doubt you will see a few different names and faces this weekend too”
This Friday its the challenge of Brive in France. French sides at home are always a tough opposition to face but after their heavy defeat to Cardiff last weekend in Wales could Brive have their minds solely on domestic rugby now?
“It will be interesting to see what team they put out”
“We know on the road French sides tend to take it a bit easier with their selection but at home they are very proud of their record so we want to go over there and play against their best side to test ourselves”
The Connacht team for Friday will be announced this Thursday.
Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby