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Second half display warms O’Connor

Leicester head coach enjoys win over Bath at Twickenham

Exeter v Leicester – Aviva Premiership – Sandy Park
Exeter v Leicester – Aviva Premiership – Sandy Park

Leiceser head coach Matt O’Connor hailed his players for the second half performance which set up victory at Bath.

The Tigers secured their first Aviva Premiership win away to Bath in seven years as they secured a bonus point at Twickenham and pushed themselves into third place in the race for the end-of-season play-off places.

Leicester scored five tries in their 34-19 victory as they avenged a 27-21 defeat in the clash at headquarters 12 months ago.

Number eight Sione Kalamafoni grabbed two tries, and wing Adam Thompstone, scrum-half Sam Harrison and full-back Telusa Veainu one each.

England fly-half George Ford kicked a penalty and three conversions against a solitary try from hooker Tom Dunn for Bath along with four penalties and a conversion by Welsh stand-off Rhys Priestland.

The Tigers blew Bath away after the interval as they scored 24 points against six and O’Connor said: “The second half was as good as we have been in lots of areas.

“I was a little bit disappointed in the first half but we didn’t relent after the interval and put them under pressure at every opportunity.

“Certainly, the run-in to the season and the play-offs will come down to the last 10 minutes of games.

“We thought we would have dominance in the scrum and we didn’t think it would happen as quickly in the game as it did.

“Once there is an element of fatigue in the opposition, we were getting a lot of positive results with the ball and there were a lot of half-breaks and momentum.

“That gave us a little bit of opportunity and we got good field position. It wore Bath down in the end.”

The Tigers, who are right back in the title chase, have an East Midlands derby with Northampton – thrashed 63-13 by Saracens – to look forward to.

O’Connor said: “Looking at the fixtures on Friday, everyone bar Exeter above us in the league were playing away from home so it presented opportunities for us.”

Bath now need a miracle to reach the play-offs with three games to go and their goal is firmly on a top-six finish to secure European Champions Cup qualification next season.

They play Saracens away next week but director of rugby Todd Blackadder said he is confident the club is going in the right direction and he has the backing of club owner Bruce Craig.

Blackadder said: “The boys were up for it but Leicester were at their best. However, we did some things today that really came off.

“Through this, the team will come out of it. The last thing we need to be doing is losing confidence and imploding because we are nowhere near that yet.

“This is professional sport and it is what it is but I have to give it my best. There has been no pressure (on Blackadder) but there are always expectations and scrutiny (from Craig). There has been more sLupport than pressure.”

Press Association

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