Coach Geordan Murphy hailed Leicester Tigers’ heroic defensive effort in the Anglo-Welsh Cup final as they successfully saw off Exeter Chiefs 16-12 at the Twickenham Stoop.
Leading 16-5 at the break after Tom Brady’s intercept try and three Freddie Burns’ penalties, Exeter Chiefs threw everything at the Tigers in the second half.
Sam Simmonds eventually found a way through with just three minutes remaining but it was too late and Tigers held on for their first Anglo-Welsh Cup success since 2012.
“I thought Exeter were fantastic the way they held onto the ball and really put us under pressure but in saying that, I thought some of the defence was heroic,” said Murphy.
“At times, it looked like Exeter had broken us down but we managed to get a fingertip and scrag people, the guys worked really hard for each other.
“It was fast and furious, we had to make a lot of tackles, we were under the pump a lot and it was great for the boys to manage to hang on at the end.
Such a good feeling to win silverware with this group of boys! Awesome effort from the whole squad, thanks for the outstanding support 🏆 pic.twitter.com/9sVxKzDnnc
— Dominic Barrow (@DominicBarrow) March 19, 2017
“I think there was a really good atmosphere in the playing squad, throughout the whole tournament, and that was epitomised today.
“It’s great to win silverware on any occasion. It’s great for the playing group and the guys who have taken part in this tournament, confidence is a big thing.
“A lot of guys got some field time during the competition and it was a real collective effort, and from that point of view it’s great to have some silverware.”
— Tom Brady (@tbrady14) March 19, 2017
James Short had got the Exeter Chiefs’ first try of the afternoon after just five minutes but 13 unanswered points in the remainder of the half for Tigers proved decisive.
And Chiefs’ coach Ricky Pellow was confident that his young side would be better players for the experience of reaching the Anglo-Welsh Cup and being so close to the title.
“For the balance of the squad with those young players getting game time in pressure situations and to be in the final obviously we are going to be pleased,” he said.
“But we talked in the changing rooms afterwards that when you lose a final you have to learn from it, take those experiences and to use that in the future.
— Gareth Steenson (@steeno10) March 19, 2017
“It’s a young group with a mix of senior guys and I’m proud of the group of players and what they did, we’ve got to try and turn those close losses into wins.
“We’re disappointed, we didn’t get a chance to lift the trophy but fair play to Leicester they fought really hard for everything, and we just couldn’t rip the momentum off them.”
Exeter Chiefs 12
Tries: Short, Simmonds S
Leicester Tigers 16
Pens: Burns 3
Exeter Chiefs: Turner, Jess, Bodilly, Hill (Hendrickson), Short, Simmonds J (Hooley 71), Maunder (Thomas 70), Rimmer (Keast), Malton (Taione), Holmes (Owlett), Atkins, Welch (Skinner 56), Ewers (Johnson), Salvi, Simmonds S
Leicester Tigers: Worth, Betham, Tait (Smith 78), Roberts, Brady, Burns (O Williams 62), Kitto (White 70), Genge (Rizzo 78), McGuigan (Youngs 70), Balmain (Bateman 51), Wells, Kitchener (Barrow 65), Williams, Thacker (Hamilton 66), McCaffrey
Referee: Tom Foley