Leicester 23-16 Clermont: Steve Borthwick leads the home side to an important win
Steve Borthwick pulled his sons into the coaching box and hugged them after Leicester moved to the top of their pool. It seemed to be a sentimental act. A moment of reflection as his days at Welford Road draw to a close.
A few supporters came over to ask for photos, all with the same thought: Will we see each other again? In recent weeks, Borthwick has always stated that he will referee the next game. However, he stayed away from talks about the Christmas game against Gloucester last night, insisting he was just enjoying that win over Clermont.
His new role as England’s new head coach is set to be confirmed within 48 hours. His squad was briefed in the dressing room and his eyes glazed over when asked if there was any news from the RFU.
Steve Borthwick has refused to confirm he will referee Leicester Tigers’ next game
“I understand everyone has to ask the question and I know you understand why I’m saying I want to enjoy today’s result,” he said. “It’s a special club. I feel privileged to be a part of it and I’ve had to coach a group of players that’s very close to my heart over the last two and a half years.
Unless he takes over the team later this week, Borthwick’s farewell performance was an expert victory in front of 20,000 fans.
It was solid if unspectacular, two tries scored by the forwards from the lineout platforms, aided by 13 points from Charlie Atkinson’s boot. A moving maul is becoming a familiar sight in Twickenham.
Charlie Atkinson contributed well to the Leicester Tigers win with 13 points from his boat
This was a step up in intensity from domestic competitions, when two of Europe’s most prestigious clubs went head-to-head. Few Premiership sides can afford heavy artillery like Apisai Naqalevu, who carried the ball like a runaway sled and sent early shockwaves through the hosts’ defence.
In his data-driven approach to coaching, Borthwick, an economist, sees footsteps and discipline as two important factors in winning a game.
Clermont, shaking foundations with his heavyweight carriers, was ahead on both facets for 15 minutes to take the lead by six points from Anthony Belleau’s shoe. His England namesake Tony Bellew would have pushed for a first-round knockout but Leicester fought back.
Harry Potter (pictured) scored a try that was later knocked over during Leicester’s narrow victory
Clermont lost three of his packs, Arthur Iturria, Paul Jedrasiak and Etienne Falgoux, early and Leicester capitalized. They boxed smartly, kept the ball in play and let off heavy Clermont legs after being forced to take pressure off their bench.
The monstrous No. 8 Jasper Wiese grew into the game, carrying hard-to-make yards through the middle of the field. And after 17 minutes, as Leicester set up a lineout platform, he clipped a line from Tommy Reffell and broke three tackles to score from 22 yards.
Nine minutes later, Hanro Liebenberg claimed an out and deftly manipulated his posture to transfer the ball. It’s the kind of detail that’s in Borthwick’s DNA and pays off when hooker Julian Montoya drives by to score.
Clermont’s discipline was dissolving. Thibaud Lanen was shown a yellow card which allowed Atkinson to put the hosts further ahead.
Jasper Wiese scored one of Leicester’s tries in a technical feat in front of 20,000 spectators
But there were signs of danger in the second half as the visitors repeatedly broke into the 22. The pace of play slowed, but Clermont’s attacks ended with turnovers and cover tackles from perennial Dan Cole.
“I remember playing against Dan on his debut for Leicester when I was playing for Bath,” Borthwick said. “I look at him now and he’s in fantastic physical shape. He embodies everything that is good about Leicester Tigers, humble and reserved.”
Center Dan Kelly also played his part in the defensive scramble by holding Alex Newsome over the line while Atkinson’s boots put Leicester to a 14-point lead.
Scrum-half Sebastien Bezy broke from the scrum to score a late bonus point try for Clermont, but there was no time to deny victory to Leicester in what could be the final act in Borthwick’s farewell tour
Leicester’s craftsmanship in the win against Clermont is typical of Borthwick
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/article-11549885/Leicester-23-16-Clermont-Steve-Borthwick-leads-home-important-win.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Leicester 23-16 Clermont: Steve Borthwick leads the home side to an important win