Walder takes the positives from Leicester hit-out

Friday 26 August 2022 Written by: Adam

Scoring four tries against the Gallagher Premiership champions despite playing half an hour with 14 men, the head coach said: “I’m really happy in many ways because it was a good hit-out for us.

“In the first half going down to 14 men following Vereimi Qorowale’s yellow and then red card was a good test, and in a short pre-season getting that match practice was really valuable.

“We conceded three tries when we were down to 14 men, and away against the champions that’s always going to be tough. Leicester’s first-half team was pretty much the side we expect them to start the Premiership with, and it was a great test for us.”

Taking the positives after tries from Gary Graham, Iwan Stephens, Adam Radwan and Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, he said: “I liked the messages coming back from the pitch because the players were asking intelligent questions and thinking on their feet, and they showed attitude to hang in there when the score could have gone away from us.

“To start the second half 14 points down when we had been under the pump wasn’t actually a bad return, everything considered. Our set-piece was a bit rusty, defensively we looked alright when we did what we’d talked about but we did go off-script a few times and let them in.

“In the second half we scored a couple of tries through some bits of magic from our wingers Iwan and Radders, and we know Cam can make those breaks from the 22 like he did for his try.

“Josh Barton and Micky Young did well at scrum-half as well, and then Josh Thomas kicked two touchline conversions, made a try for Iwan with a lovely kick and generally looked comfortable on the field.”

Walder added: “Ultimately it was all about getting a good hit-out, getting some minutes for a lot of players and testing ourselves against a good side.

“I’m never too bothered about the result in pre-season, with the obvious caveat that you always want to win, but it’s more about the performance and the attitude.

“It was good just to see us score some tries, and doing some of the things we’ve been working on. Obviously we’ll be looking to improve in certain areas next Friday at Doncaster, but I thought we hung in there really well against a good team.”

Playing with 15 men after half-time despite having sustained a red card, the head coach explained: “Steve Borthwick had spoken to the officials about trying to get us back up to 15 men straightaway, but I thought it was only right that we should suffer a punishment for having someone pick up two yellows.

“In the end we agreed we would go back to 15 for the second half, and give our boys the challenge of thinking on their feet when we’re down to 14. We knew we were putting a whole new team out second half, so it was almost a new game, and that was why we decided to go back to 15 men.”

Rounding off their pre-season campaign away to Doncaster next Friday, he said: “At Doncaster I want to see more of what we’re about and for longer periods of the game, because we did have some mental switch-offs.

“That cost us tries, and the opportunity of scoring tries, but Doncaster is a good chance to put us in the right place for the Premiership start at home to Harlequins on September 10.”