Cockerill still targeting home semi


Published: Saturday 28th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill insists he has not given up hope of a home Aviva Premiership semi-final after his side leapfrogged Exeter Chiefs in the standings with victory at Welford Road.

Geoff Parling’s second-half try and 20 points from the boot of Freddie Burns saw Leicester triumph, despite former Tiger Thomas Waldrom and Will Chudley going over for the visitors.

The victory not only helped the home side enact some revenge for an LV= Cup semi-final loss to the Chiefs a fortnight ago, but lifted Leicester above their opponents in the table as they now sit third.

There is still work for Leicester to do if they are to claim a home semi-final spot – let alone a top four place – but Cockerill is adamant they are on course for a busy end of season.

“I thought the performance all round was very good and our attitude to work rate has always been great,” said Cockerill.

“We’re not smart enough sometimes but we never lack for effort and I thought the attitude of the boys wanting to win was outstanding.

“I thought we were the better side, we did well. Exeter are a good side and they came and played against us and two sides that actually tried to play in difficult conditions at times but delighted with the win and attitude of the defence.

“Hopefully we will get to the play-offs but we have got some very tough games coming up but we’re well in the mix for top four and that’s obviously our target at the start of the season and it still is now. If we get it right we can still get a home semi-final.

“We just need to re-group and freshen ourselves up and the sides that we are playing have got some pretty tough European games coming up, so hopefully we will be fresh for the opposition.”

Leicester went into the break 12-3 ahead as Burns’ four penalties cancelled out Slade’s solitary three-pointer in return.

And despite being happy to head home with a bonus point in the end, Exeter head coach Rob Baxter admitted his side simply left themselves with too much to do in the second half.

“I’m not frustrated at all, a bonus point away at Welford Road this time of year is always good,” said Baxter.

“When you come here you have to play very, very well to get anything. I think we played very well in the second-half, I think all our frustrations as a team, and my frustration as a coach was with our first-half. We just weren’t mentally strong enough to withstand any kind of pressure at all.

“Great credit to Leicester, they weathered an awful lot of possession from us and an awful lot of phases and limited our scoring opportunities massively and that’s a great credit to them.

“We will have learned a lot from that. I was frustrated at half-time because we were giving away soft penalties.

“You have to play well to get anything here and we played very well in the second half.”

Published: Saturday 28th March 2015 by The News Editor

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