Borth­wick breathes eas­ier as Le­ices­ter hang on

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Rugby Union - By Charles Richard­son

Le­ices­ter did their best to make a hash of it, but Steve Borth­wick will care not one jot as he reg­is­tered his first win as the club’s head coach, and their first since the Premier­ship’s restart.

Borth­wick will have been most pleased, how­ever, by the de­but of Nemani Nadolo, Le­ices­ter’s star sum­mer sign­ing. The Fi­jian had not played com­pet­i­tive rugby since Feb 23, but there was no sign of rust, de­spite his post-match ad­mit­tance that he “was blow­ing seag­ulls” af­ter a full 80 min­utes of rugby. The Le­ices­ter wing only touched the ball six times in the match, but he made more me­tres and off­loaded more times than any other Tiger.

It was Le­ices­ter’s firsthalf dom­i­nance that saw them home, and it was largely grounded in dis­ci­pline and break­down pre­ci­sion. Lon­don Ir­ish con­ceded as many penal­ties and free-kicks com­bined in the first 40 min­utes as Le­ices­ter did in the en­tire match.

Le­ices­ter di­rec­tor of rugby Ge­or­dan Mur­phy was es­pe­cially buoyed by the dogged­ness of side’s dis­play. “Some­one af­ter the match said, ‘It was not the great­est spec­ta­cle’ – but I re­ally en­joyed it,” he said. “It was very phys­i­cal and ev­ery­one was get­ting stuck in. Our break­down work was par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive and de­fen­sively we did a good job.”

De­clan Kid­ney, the Lon­don Ir­ish di­rec­tor of rugby, ad­mit­ted that the break­down was a cause for con­cern. “Le­ices­ter got the bet­ter of us. We need to learn the bal­ance be­tween be­ing hon­est and when to com­pete. Le­ices­ter were very dis­ci­plined but I know we’re head­ing in the right di­rec­tion.”

Kid­ney’s side could not match Le­ices­ter’s clout, ei­ther. When the op­po­si­tion have such few gen­uine at­tack­ing threats – wing Ol­lie Has­sell-Collins the ex­cep­tion – it be­comes easy for sides to fo­cus on com­pet­ing for the ball on the deck. Le­ices­ter did ex­actly that, and fly-half George Ford gave his side an early lead.

From an end­less chap­ter of scrums on the Ir­ish line, af­ter Tom Youngs had been denied by the TMO, deft sleight of hand from both Nadolo and Ford al­lowed David Wil­liams to scurry over un­op­posed, which ex­tended Le­ices­ter’s lead to 10, in­clud­ing an ef­fort­less touch­line con­ver­sion from Eng­land’s No10. Ford slot­ted three more points and there seemed no way back for Ir­ish.

When Calum Green was sent to the sin-bin for pre­vent­ing a quick tap penalty, the ex­tra man gave Ir­ish impetus. Ben Mee­han squirted over to bring them to within a con­verted try, but Le­ices­ter just held on and Borth­wick can sleep hap­pier.

Win­ning way: Steve Borth­wick had his first vic­tory with Le­ices­ter

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