Louis Deacon salutes Leicester Tigers' team-mates
Leicester Tigers lock Louis Deacon has paid tribute to the "heart and passion" shown by his team-mates in the victory over Toulouse.
Deacon led his side to a 9-5 defeat of the French champions at Welford Road on Sunday, which saw Tigers qualify for the last eight of the Heineken Cup for the first time in two years.
The victory was by no means plain-sailing as Tigers spent the majority of the second half barricaded inside their own 22 under immense pressure from the French visitors.
But even with the hosts down to 14 men when Toby Flood was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on, Tigers managed to hold on to secure their quarter-final trip to Toulon in April.
"We had to dig deep at times and we made loads of mistakes," said Tigers captain. "But the heart and the passion of the guys to dig in, work hard for each other, and stay in there right to the end was awesome.
"I was worried before the game thinking about what to say to them before such a big game. But I didn't need to say anything, you just looked around the changing room and you knew, by their mannerisms and the look in the guys' eyes, that they were up for it.
"Even out on the pitch I didn't need to say a lot – everyone was just concentrating on their individual jobs and having the confidence in each other to keep doing that, especially when they were on our line at the end.
"They were putting pressure on us and everyone was just digging in and giving it their all. The effort was outstanding.
"You just defend for your lives in that situation and we did that. When your backs are against the wall, everyone stands up which is awesome.
"It wasn't the best of games, it was quite scrappy, but people manned up and rolled up their sleeves and got on with it."
With fewer than 100 Toulouse fans making the trip, it left almost 24,000 of the Tigers faithful to create an incredible atmosphere inside Welford Road as they drove their side on right to the final whistle.
"The crowd was outstanding," said Deacon. "When they are like that, it really does give the guys a massive boost. We really needed them and they were awesome.
"You definitely feed off the noise when you're on the back foot. When they were putting on the pressure and the crowd are behind you, it does give you a lift."