Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Cockerill despondent after defeat

Richard Cockerill

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill offered no excuses after watching the Tigers' Heineken Cup campaign reduced to ruins by rampant Ulster at Ravenhill.

Cockerill's team were smashed 41-7, surpassing their previous record European defeat - 33-0 against Ulster in Belfast eight years ago. The twice Heineken Cup winners are now facing only a fifth group-stage exit in 15 European seasons, with Cockerill believing they will finish third behind pace-setters Ulster and Clermont Auvergne.

Cockerill said: "We are out. We will be third in our group. We are done."

Leicester cannot win Pool Four - which offers an automatic quarter-final place - after Ulster moved seven points above them ahead of next weekend's probable group decider against French heavyweights Clermont.

Tigers will need a bonus point victory over Italian strugglers Aironi at Welford Road to give themselves any chance in the race for two best runners-up spots, yet teams in their group and other pools appear better placed.

Leicester were without injured England trio Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi and Louis Deacon against Ulster, a fact not lost on Cockerill. He added: "It shows in European competitions with the English sides having a limit on what they can spend that if you have key guys missing, then it is going to very difficult for you.

"We've got some key guys missing, but that is not an excuse and I don't want to use it as an excuse. We should have played better tonight. They (Ulster) played very well, and you have to take your hat off to them, shake their hands and say 'well done'.

"We struggled to get a foothold in the game. They controlled the field position, took their chances and built the score. There wasn't a part of the game where we had dominance.

"You don't want to be conceding 40 points. They are a good side, and we didn't cope with it. We never got on the front foot enough, and when we did, they worked very hard on the ball and we couldn't cope with their intensity.

"We needed to come here and get a result, and we thought we could do that. The side we had out tonight was good enough to put up a better show than that."

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