Cockerill suspects Botha of foul play
April 8, 2013
Toulon lock Bakkies Botha claims the ball at a lineout during his side's Heineken Cup quarter-final victory over Leicester © Getty Images
Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill has urged disciplinary chiefs to examine what he believes was an act of foul play by Toulon lock Bakkies Botha during their Heineken Cup quarter-final clash on Sunday.
Toulon claimed a 21-15 victory in a brutal encounter at the Stade Mayol with injuries to Tigers prop Marcus Ayerza and flanker Tom Croft key turning points in the contest. Croft succumbed to a back spasm while Ayerza was forced out of the contest in the second half with a suspected broken collarbone and Cockerill was quick to point the finger following the game.
"It looks like Ayerza's broken his clavicle from a knee that Botha put in and I have asked the citing commissioner to look at it," said Cockerill who is set to be without Ayerza for the remainder of the season.
Yellow cards for fly-half Toby Flood and prop Dan Cole - both for deliberate knock ons - also contributed to the Tigers' downfall with former England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson making the Premiership side pay for their indiscipline by kicking all of the home side's points courtesy of six penalties and a drop goal.
"If two of my blokes have been sent from the field for slapping the ball down, you have got to look at incidents like that [Ayerza] - it makes the reffing world mad," Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury. "For the yellow cards, Flood was trying to catch the ball and Cole's was an instinctive reaction. That is frustrating, but I don't want to detract from a very good performance from both sides."
He added: "If the ball had bounced our way when Adam Thompstone was attacking at the end, we would have won it. Nobody can say we bottled it. I'm proud of the players. They did themselves proud and the club proud.
"It was a titanic battle between two good sides and two big clubs. What we have got, money cannot buy, and the willingness of these guys to play for this club is tremendous. I'm not going to beat myself up, or be upset with the players because they lost by six points in a game like this. They gave absolutely everything. Many sides come here and get well beaten - we didn't. Credit to Jonny Wilkinson for kicking his goals, but we move on having played well and with our heads held high.
"They're leading the Top 14, which is one of the hardest and most physical leagues in the world. We are disappointed but will move on, and we have one tournament to concentrate on now. That is where we will concentrate our energy."
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