Howard praise for cool-headed Vesty
April 6, 2007
Leicester head coach Pat Howard praised the coolness of Sam Vesty after the utility back's last-minute penalty earned a 26-25 win over Sale.
Vesty started the game at centre but switched to fly-half after an injury to Ian Humphreys.
And after a commanding performance, the 25-year-old stroked over a fifth kick from six to take the Tigers, who trailed late on after a penalty try for Sale, top of the Guinness Premiership, above Gloucester, who play Bath tomorrow.
Howard said: ``We had a good lead in the last little bit, we kept our line intact and we defended very, very well.
``We conceded the penalty try and I'll have a look at that but fortunately we got a penalty at the end and Sam Vesty held his nerve.
``He kicked a very good goal. He has been fantastic and he's a very good footballer.
``He stepped in at 10, controlled the game and even though he's not a front-line goal-kicker he stood up and took his chance.
``He really put his hand up. He's got a great temperament, doesn't get frazzled and he's a great student of the game.
``He'll do what's needed even under pressure.''
Tries in each half from flankers Tom Croft and Luke Abraham put the Tigers in the driving seat but Sale's penalty try looked to be decisive before Vesty's late kick.
Despite last week's tense finish in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals against Stade Francais, Howard maintained he was not too concerned in the closing minutes.
He added: ``This was less stressful than last week.
``The thing about the Premiership is there's a little room for error which you don't have in finals; you're either in or you're out.
``If Sam had missed the kick, it wouldn't have changed my feelings because the guys turned up and played well.''
Sale's Phillippe Saint-Andre felt his side paid the price for basic errors but thought referee Tony Spreadbury was always likely to give the Tigers a late penalty after awarding his team a penalty try.
He said: ``We made a lot of mistakes and were penalised a lot.
``We missed tackles and you can see we're not confident. We had some good ball at the start of the game but we dropped balls.
``I can't blame my players because they gave everything but we're not a good team at the moment but it's terrible for the players to lose in the last minute.
``It was the first penalty try we've had in my three years here and I had a feeling he would give Leicester the opportunity to win.''
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