Cockerill takes heart from Tigers' fightback
April 5, 2014
Jordan Crane's try gave Leicester hope but they could not pin back Clermont © Getty Images
Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill lamented the 16-point his team allowed Clermont to clock up in the aftermath of their 22-16 loss on Saturday.
Clermont endured a nervy last few minutes as Leicester tried to pin back their six-point lead but in the end the home side, whose unbeaten run at home now totals 75 games, held out for a win which teed up a semi-final at Twickenham against Saracens.
"Gallant losers is not my thing," Cockerill said. "Yes we can take the positives from how we played, but we came with the attitude to win and we didn't. Clermont are a very good side and you are always going to be up against it in France and especially here, where they played very well in the first-half.
"Our plan was to try and keep the scores as close as possible in the first-half and then go for it in the second-half, but in the end they had just too much of a lead.
"We played well in parts and we have to take credit for the way we came back. We could have been obliterated because all the momentum was against us, they were leading and the crowd were singing. It was a tough situation. But fair play to our players, they took themselves to places they have never been in the Premiership or even in Europe at Ulster and Montpellier. To come back against a team of Clermont's strength and come within a whisker of winning takes some doing.
"Were Clermont lucky to win? Probably not. Were we unlucky to lose? Perhaps, but that's rugby sometimes."
Clermont have never lifted the Heineken Cup but hope they can go one better than last year's agonising loss in the final to rivals Toulon in Dublin. Head coach Vern Cotter said: "It's a major achievement to reach the semi-finals of such a great competition at this.
"The first-half performance was the best we have produced for a long time. But our experience from previous big games such as last year's final was also crucial in the second half. It helped us both in attack and defence to raise our level when we really needed."
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