News in Brief
Tigers target top spot
April 18, 2010
The Newcastle defence swarm around Leicester's Matt Smith, Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons, Guinness Premiership, Kingston Park, Newcastle, England, April 18, 2010
Leicester's Matt Smith is tackled by the Newcastle defence during their Premiership clash at Welford Road © Getty Images

  • Leicester boss Richard Cockerill told his side he wants to see them finish top of the Guinness Premiership after they crushed Newcastle 31-7 win at Kingston Park.

    "We want to finish top of the table," said Cockerill. "We did that last year and we want to retain it. It's a tough league week in, week out and we want to finish top of it again. We're a good side and if we play well, we will cause any side problems, but the focus has to be on doing the simple things well which we did today and that bodes well for the semi-finals.

    "I thought the first half today was some of the best rugby we have played for some time, but when you're 28-0 up, the bonus point is assured, it's difficult to turn round and face the wind and rain in the second half and repeat that. We knew the second half was going to be a real battle."

    Newcaslte remain in the relegation scrap after Leeds' victory over London Irish a fact not lost on Falcons boss Steve Bates. "We now have to go to Sale next weekend and try to get something from that, but the Leeds v Worcester game also assumes massive significance," he said.

  • Leeds boss Andy Key has warned his squad to beware any sense of "job done" on the back of an impressive 23-13 victory over London Irish. Leeds are ninth going into next weekend's Headingley clash against bottom club Worcester, and Key is determined to avoid any sense of relaxation in the camp.

    "We are absolutely ready for the job ahead because, as we said to the players, we haven't all worked this hard and come this far to end up on the slab again. Two games remaining, two games to win," he said. "That was the most pleasing performance of our season in terms of how we played and the character we displayed in the final quarter to keep Irish out. For me it was quite outstanding."

    Leeds can secure their Guinness Premiership status if they avoid defeat to Worcester on Sunday and Key is confident of doing so. "Now, we need to be realistic. We produced a poor performance in losing at Harlequins last week, but we decided to leave the players to deal with that. I believe they gave their answer on the pitch against Irish. Now, the prospect of enjoying another season in the Premiership is wholly in our hands, and it's a job we must complete next week."

    London Irish head coach Toby Booth pulled no punches, but may well have felt like delivering a few as his team wasted a major opportunity to recapture the top-four spot they lost to Wasps 24 hours earlier. "You cannot afford to relinquish control of your destiny at this stage of the season to a team fighting for their lives. But when I look at the statistics and see we were guilty of 27 errors, I have some of the answers to my questions."

  • Rugby union may yet return to Dublin's Croke Park stadium after the Gaelic Athletic Associaiton voted to allow future use of the stadium.

    The 82,300 capacity Croke Park was opened to both rugby and soccer in 2005 for the duration of the construction of the Aviva Stadium at Lansdowne Road and has since generated €36m profit for the stadium's owners. However, the 50,000-seater Aviva Stadium is now on the verge of completion with Ireland contracutally obliged to play at the stadium. But the GAA's Central Council will have the power to decide on the use of Croke Park by other sporting codes in the future after the motion was passed by a two thirds majority at Annual Congress.

    "My views on the use of Croke Park were well known in the run up to the vote to temporarily amend Rule 42 in 2005," said GAA president Christy Cooney, "but I think anyone would find it hard to argue that opening up the stadium to other sporting codes has not had a positive effect on the association for a variety of reasons."

  • X-rays have cleared Reds lock Van Humphries of any bone damage to the ankle he injured in last night's 19-12 victory over the Bulls but he remains in doubt for next Friday's match against the Stormers at Suncorp Stadium.

    A relieved Head coach Ewen McKenzie said the injury was not as bad as first feared but more will be known tomorrow once Humphries has scans on his ankle when the swelling has gone down. "It's not broken, but we'll have to see how it pulls up tomorrow. Obviously he's in doubt for Friday but we'll know more in the next 24 hours," McKenzie said.

  • Melbourne Rebels are set to continue their recruitment drive with the signing of rugby league star Jarrod Saffy from the St George Illawara Dragons, according to reports.

    The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Super rugby franchise, that will join an expanded Super 15 competition next year, are set to confirm the signing of the 25-year-old on a lucrative three-year deal.

    "I'm not going to lie to you - he's coming," said Rebels CEO Brian Waldron, who transferred from the NRL after five years as Melbourne Storm CEO. "We sounded him out. We've had genuine interest in him and he's a player of great potential. He's a player with a solid rugby background and someone who we think will be great asset to the Rebels on and off the field."

    Saffy previously represented the Australian Sevens team in Hong Kong, where he played alongside Super 14 stars Adam Ashley-Cooper, Richard Brown, Ben Mowen and Peter Hewat.

  • Sri Lanka booked their place amongst Asia's elite with a 23-16 victory over Singapore in the Asian 5 Nations Division I tournament. The visitors turned in a comprehensive performance in wet and humid conditions at Singapore's Yio Chu Kang stadium to emerge as Division I champions for the first time in three years. Sri Lanka will now be promoted to the elite Top 5 competition in Asian rugby starting in 2011.

    The 2010 Top 5 features Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Hong Kong and the Arabian Gulf (who replaced Singapore as the promoted team from the 2009 Division I) and kicks off next weekend (April 24) with matches in Hong Kong (v. Korea) and Kazakhstan (v. Arabian Gulf). At stake in 2010 is Asia's sole direct entry to the IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand. The runners-up in the Top 5 competition will play an inter-continental repechage with the first Test against Uruguay in July.


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