Leicester 15-6 Bath, Guinness Premiership semi-final
Victorious Tigers frustrated by referee
May 16, 2010
Tempers boil over between Bath and Leicester during their clash at Welford Road © Getty Images
Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill celebrated his side's 15-6 Guinness Premiership semi-final victory over Bath by criticising the performance of referee Chris White.
Five penalties from fly-half Toby Flood did the job for the Tigers but former England hooker Cockerill was visibly exasperated by several decisions made by White during the course of the semi-final clash, particularly at the breakdown area.
"I was a little bit frustrated with some of the decisions. I just want consistency, that's all," he said following the bruising Welford Road clash. "I am not embarrassed about it. This is a club I hold dear to my heart and I am passionate about what we do. I work exceptionally hard and I expect everyone to be passionate and do their job as diligently as everyone at this club, including the officials.
"When you drive a scrum back five metres on the 22-metre line and they stand up, exactly like they did when they were given a penalty in the first half, you would expect the referee to give a penalty to us for that good bit of play. There is a lot of skill in scrummaging, they (props) are very expensive people to buy and you would like to be able to use them, wouldn't you?"
Bath had taken a 6-0 lead after the in-form Olly Barkley, playing in front of the full England management team after his call into the squad to tour Australia and New Zealand, had kicked two penalties as the Tigers made an uncertain task.But the Tigers slowly began to take a stranglehold on the game and Flood's boot was enough to make the home side's dominance tell.
Although he was less than enamoured with the display of the officials, Cockerill was pleased by his side's performance. "I thought we did some good things," Cockerill said. "It was a tight game, Bath are a very good side and have been playing very well. We were a bit jittery after last week (a defeat to Saracens), neither side looked like scoring, it was very attritional and we defended well and by and large we were well disciplined."
The win sets up a rematch with Saracens in the final. The London side beat the Tigers at Welford Road last weekend to end Leicester's proud unbeaten home record, which had stretched back to September of 2008. The fall-out from that match also saw Saracens boss Brendan Venter charged with allegedly pushing a female Leicester supporter and making inappropriate gestures and comments to supporters, and his disciplinary hearing will be held in London on Tuesday. And Cockerill is looking forward to the chance to lock horns again.
"Sarries are a good side," he said. "To go to Saints, then to come here and go to Saints again in the last three weeks and win them all, you can't take anything away from them. Love them or hate them, Brendan is doing a good job and they are a very difficult side to beat. Hopefully it will be an entertaining game."
Bath's defeat means they have not won at Welford Road since November 2003. The West Country side had secured their play-off place after a superb run of form saw them move clear of the relegation scrap they were in danger of getting caught up in at Christmas.
Steve Meehan's side have lost only two of their last 13 Premiership fixtures, both at the home of their bitter rivals. And Meehan admitted his side had failed to make the most of the chances they had in the opening half.
"We had some opportunities in the first half but we carried the ball into contact when the pass was on," he said. "In the second half, we found it difficult to get out of our half and get control of the football, and when we had it we showed a lack of patience. It's difficult to build pressure like that."