Cockerill slams sloppy Tigers
November 5, 2011
Leicester's Toby Flood reflects on a late missed drop goal © Getty Images
Fuming Leicester coach Richard Cockerill admitted there was a stunned silence in the home dressing room after London Irish fought back to secure a 24-24 draw.
Leicester led 13-7 at half-time and looked to be home and dry with a second-half try from centre Horacio Agulla. But Leicester turned down kickable penalties as they looked for a try bonus point and Irish full-back Tom Homer booted a penalty and converted tries from replacement wing Adam Thompstone and Matt Garvey to complete a remarkable comeback.
Asked what the atmosphere was like in the Tigers changing room afterwards, Cockerill replied: "Silence". Leicester's failure to make the most of their chances to kill off Irish added to Cockerill's anger.
"It is hugely disappointing," he said. "We put ourselves in a position to win it. "The penalty count was massively in our favour and we didn't take advantage of it. We have nobody but ourselves to blame for what has turned out to be a poor result. We made poor mistakes across the board in that last quarter and it cost us the win.
"They played well and defended well but we got what we deserved. At 24-7, we had to play in the right areas of the field and control the ball. But we played a lot of time in our own half, had sloppy pieces of play and we let them back in the game. We have to do better. We got charged down from a box kick and then two minutes later we get charged down again for them to score and draw the game. Across the baord, everyone was to blame."
Leicester's first-half dominance was such that they allowed Irish just two scoring chances in the first-half, one of which saw England centre Shontayne Hape dash over for a try and the other being a 50 metre unsuccessful penalty by Homer.
They overwhelmed the Irish scrum as well, forcing a penalty try when the Exiles were down a man after fly-half Dan Bowden was sent to the sin-bin for holding on in a ruck under his own posts. England fly-half Toby Flood kicked 14 points while centre Horacio Agulla finished off a second-half move for a try.
The draw leaves Leicester, last year's runners-up, in a lowly 10th place in the Aviva Premiership and they have lost three times at Welford Road this season in addition to this stalemate. But Cockerill believes they can yet bounce back. "We will keep on playing and it's two points lost as far as I'm concerned. We just have to keep our heads on," he added.
Irish head coach Toby Booth agreed with Cockerill. He said: "They will have more wins by March than losses." But Booth praised his men for fighting back against the odds. "It was a tough contest and I think the most pleasing thing is to come back from such a deficit. It speaks volumes about the team.
"That is fantastic and, if you have that type of effort and belief, it bodes well for you kicking on when things are tough. What is remarkable for me is we have come here and got something out of the contest with a line-out that struggled in particular and the penalty count was 17-6. We also contributed 17 turnovers. So, to do that at Leicester and still get something out of the game, shows how well we defended."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales