Sam Warburton praises "monster" Bundee Aki and Connacht's back-row discovery 5 months ago

Sam Warburton praises "monster" Bundee Aki and Connacht's back-row discovery

LEICESTER 29-23 CONNACHT

Andy Friend's side were leading Leicester by eight points, at one stage, but their scrum crumpled in the second half. They head home with just a single point, but Sam Warburton was impressed with two Connacht players.

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Connacht went 3-0 ahead, through the excellent Jack Carty, but Leicester's forward play saw them dominate a 10-minute spell that led to tries from Nic Dolly and Bryce Hegarty.

With Leicester looking very good in the Premiership and in Europe, this season, some may have feared for a Connacht tanking, but they had other ideas.

First up, John Porch glided through and dived over by the posts after being put away by a lovely Bundee Aki offload. Connacht then hit the front when Alex Wootton forced a spill and Carty picked up the loose ball to dash 50 metres and score under the posts.

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Sam Warburton John Porch of Connacht, right, celebrates after scoring his side's first try with team-mates Kieran Marmion and Dave Heffernan. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile)

Sam Warburton praise for Connacht duo

Carty added a penalty, early in the second half, to put Connacht 20-12 ahead, but that was as good as it got.

Leicester boss Steve Borthwick brought on an entirely new front row and they immediately started to dominated at scrum-time. Given how Tigers were edging the breakdown battle, too, the tide started to turn.

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With players getting sucked into stopping pick-and-goes and rolling mauls, there was space out wide and Leicester eventually took advantage, first through Hosea Saumaki and then, for the try-scoring bonus point, Freddie Steward.

Connacht, who beat Stade Francais at home last weekend, kept fighting and were rewarded with that losing bonus point when Carty slotted a drop goal just outside the Tigers 22, with normal time elapsed. Following the game, Sam Warburton highlighted two of Connacht's best performers on the day:

"Bundee Aki is just a monster. The Lions squad, when it was named, was in alphabetical order and his name was called out first. That would have surprised a lot of people, but he justified his place... he's such a physical specimen."

I was really impressed by Connacht. They can go back to Ireland with their heads held high... Cian Prendergast did really well."

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Alex Wootton, left, and Cian Prendergast of Connacht. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile)

Earlier in the match, Warburton and co-commentator Andy Goode had remarked how Connacht had unearthed a real back-row talent in Cian Prendergast.

The 21-year-old from Kildare was making his 17th senior appearance, after his 2020 debut, and only his second European start.

With Leicester due in Galway next month, that bonus point could yet be crucial in the final shake-up of Pool B.

Our Man of the Match: Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers)

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