Cockerill happy with Tigers desire
February 25, 2011
Ben Woods claims a lineout for Leicester © Getty Images
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill paid tribute to the desire of his players after they ground out an 18-16 Aviva Premiership victory at lowly Sale.
Fly-half Jeremy Staunton landed six penalties to hand the champions their ninth successive win and condemn struggling Sale to their 10th defeat of the season.
The Sharks claimed the only try of the game in the 50th minute when Charlie Hodgson's brilliant long pass sent centre Chris Bell over, but Leicester typically hit back to grind out the points.
Sale competed gamely throughout and will feel bitterly disappointed not to have claimed victory, although a losing bonus point at least ensured they did not finish empty-handed.
Cockerill said: "I think we did enough to win the match but if Sale had won we wouldn't have complained too much. We had enough chances in the first half and perhaps should have scored a couple of tries. We had opportunities where we could have built up a healthy scoreline and got away from them but we didn't. However, this group of players are working really hard and really that's all that matters."
Only a fine saving tackle from Scott Hamilton on Rob Miller secured victory for Leicester, for whom England flanker Tom Croft played 55 minutes on his first Tigers start since October 23 to step up his return from a broken shoulder and nerve damage.
Cockerill added: "The determination to make the tackles, get onside and roll away from the ball was immense. That won us the game and the effort was great but we need to improve for next week."
Hodgson attempted a late drop-goal attempt that would have clinched victory for his side but the ball sailed wide to leave Sale too close to the relegation zone for comfort. Sharks director of sport Steve Diamond could not fault his players' effort and pointed an accusing finger at referee Tim Wigglesworth.
Diamond said: "These referees want to talk about quick ball but they cannot deliver it on a Friday, Saturday or a Sunday. We look at ourselves and we're professional; they've got to look at themselves as well. Commitment is never an issue as long as I'm involved.
"The lads have trained really well this week and you could see the effort of the lads there tonight. We're down at the bottom of the league, so it's good to get a bonus point against a top side. It bodes well for us going to Wasps next week."
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