Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick has praised his side’s battling qualities as they hit back from 17-6 down to defeat Ulster Rugby 33-24 in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final clash last night.
The English side looked set for elimination from the competition after a ruthless opening 40 minutes from the Irish province, but second half tries from Jasper Wiese, Ellis Genge and Guy Porter turned the match on its head.
That win ensured Leicester’s spot in their first European final since 2009, although Borthwick admitted that it didn’t always look quite as likely.
“I think that in the first half we were very poor,” said Borthwick. “We were completely outplayed by a very good Ulster team, there was a couple of glimpses of some things with some opportunities, there’s a couple of things we needed to change tactically.
“I think we saw enough of that in the first half, there wasn’t much, but there was enough to go at half-time this is a better picture for us to follow.
𝘼𝙣𝙣𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙘𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 ! 🚨
EPCR and the RFU are pleased to announce that the iconic Twickenham Stadium will host the 2021 #ChallengeCupRugby final with a limited number of fans permitted to attend 🤩
All the information you need 👇https://t.co/JZbYNHtmZQ
— Challenge Cup (@ERChallengeCup) April 30, 2021
“The boys did it magnificently, they did a very, very good job. We’ve got to learn from what we can do better in that first half, so we don’t make a repeat of those mistakes, but I think that it’s a positive that the team learned during the game.”
Borthwick also praised the introduction of his replacements who helped revitalise a Leicester side devoid of ideas and energy at the end of the first half.
“I think it was pretty clear we needed to look at things a little bit different and the players who came on did a good job,” added the Tigers boss.
“We talk a lot about this on a matchday being a 23-man effort, throughout the week it’s a full-squad effort, some people had different roles today.
“I am pleased for the players’ performance in that second half, especially, and it’s allowed us to take a step forward.”