Leicester Tigers 32-23 London Irish, Aviva Premiership, May 7
Cockerill perturbed by sloppy Tigers
May 7, 2011
Fullback Tom Homer makes a break during the Exiles' spell of supremacy at Welford Road © Getty Images
Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill believes that his side will be punished in the play-offs if they make the same mistakes they made in Saturday's dramatic 32-23 victory over London Irish at Welford Road.
The Tigers produced an error-strewn display in their final fixture of the regular season and, after giving away two intercept tries, found themselves trailing 23-8 with just 15 minutes remaining. However, they produced a stirring finish and tries from Horacio Agulla, Anthony Allen, Tom Croft and Alesana Tuilagi secured a stunning win.
However, the tremendous late rally did not paper over the cracks, as far as Cockerill was concerned, and he believes that they cannot afford to be as sloppy in next weekend's play-off semi-final clash with Northampton.
"We dominated possession but we were a bit loose with that possession at times, and we won't get away with that next week. If you give Saints a 15-point lead then you're unlikely to claw it back.
"The spirit was never in doubt and even when we were those 15 points down, we were still trying to play and we knew we would get opportunities to win it.
"It was great character to come back into it but we're better than that. We can't chuck those passes: one's a mistake and two is negligent. Then we came out six points down and gave them an intercept.
"It was good to finish it off properly, but it was disappointing we got ourselves into the hole in the first place really."
Cockerill argued, though, that referee Greg Garner had played a part in his side's poor display, believing that the official should have been tougher on London Irish for what he felt was persistent fouling in the set-piece.
"We feel the referee didn't reward the team that was trying to play," he said. "There were 11 penalties in their 22 against them, but no yellow cards. I find that a bit hard to take when we were actually trying to play," he said.
Meanwhile, London Irish head coach Toby Booth had no complaints with the final scoreline and believes that Leicester will again be crowned champions this season.
"If you can't get out of your 22m for that length of time, you're going to struggle. Leicester are a very, very good, committed side that will go on to win the Premiership," he predicted.
Despite his side's failure to make the play-offs - the Exiles finished sixth - Booth believes that his side is moving in the right direction. He did insinuate, though, that they could do with signing some experienced players.
"The long-term future is bright," he said. "But the long-term challenge for us as a club is that we're not reliant on these youngsters every week, and that's the difference. It's great to fast track them but we need to make sure they learn as they go and develop them."
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