Wales flanker’s impressive return hailed as he ‘adds another string to our bow’

Adam Kyriacou
Tommy Reffell in action for Leicester Tigers.

Tommy Reffell in action for Leicester Tigers.

Leicester head coach Dan McKellar hailed his forward pack and defence that allowed Wales flanker Tommy Reffell to pounce at the breakdown against Northampton.

The Tigers came out on top in the East Midlands derby as they ran out 26-17 winners in a much-improved showing that was only their second win of the campaign.

Springboks fly-half Handre Pollard kicked 16 points while second-half tries from forwards Francois van Wyk and Hanro Liebenberg secured Leicester the triumph.

While McKellar’s first taste of an East Midlands derby was a positive one, he admitted it was a relief to see his side get back to winning ways in the Premiership.

Much-needed win

“We had to grind out a win and we did that,” said the coach, whose pack impressed throughout which resulted in Reffell picking up the player of the match award.

“You need to win. When you’re one from five, we obviously weren’t happy with that.

“I don’t think it was must-win territory but when it’s a Tigers-Saints derby game, you don’t want to lose.”

He added: “Physically, we were outstanding. We had set-piece dominance and our defensive pressure in the first half in particular was what won us the game.

“It would have been nice to have scored one or two more, but overall we’re really pleased.

“You’ve got to defend well to give Tommy (Reffell) the opportunities that he had and it was good to have him back.

“With the game these days, you can’t be defending for 20 or 30 phases so to have someone like Tommy to be able to force turnover on the ground off the back of what others do, just adds another string to our bow.”

Meanwhile, Northampton boss Phil Dowson was frustrated with his side’s indiscipline as their three-match win streak was brought to an end at Welford Road on Saturday.

Sam Matavesi and Ethan Waller were sent to the sin-bin after the interval, which was highlighted by Dowson as being one key area that cost Northampton an away win.

“We didn’t deal with the breakdown in the first half. Discipline in the second half, going down to 13 men, giving 20 penalties away to their 10, makes it very tricky to get a result,” he said.

“We couldn’t quite get in the game. We didn’t do three things back-to-back well.

“We were scrapping away and the score at half-time was 9-3 so playing poorly, we were right in the game.

High penalty count

“But around about 50 minutes, it got away from us.

“That penalty count gives them all the pressure and field position and puts us under some heat.

“In terms of our attacking game, we couldn’t get going forward for long enough to put them under some pressure.

“That anticipation at the breakdown wasn’t good enough and we gave Reffell and (Jasper) Wiese time to get over the ball.

“There were lots of little things that didn’t go our way but we showed great character in terms of dealing with those setbacks.”

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