Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Cockerill heaps praise on Tuilagi

Richard Cockerill hailed the performance of Manu Tuilagi, pictured

Richard Cockerill declared it was the best he had ever seen Manu Tuilagi play for Leicester as the centre powered his side to a bonus-point 36-8 victory over Northampton.

It was the seventh east midlands derby win in a row for Leicester as they cemented second place in the Aviva Premiership table, while fourth-placed Northampton are now only ahead of Gloucester because they have one more win.

Tuilagi scored two tries and Cockerill said: "It helps when you are on the front foot, which we were for most of the game, but I thought that was probably the best Manu has played for us."

He went on: "Saints defend very tight and slide and if they don't get it right you can expose them. I thought we did it very well. Anthony Allen was outstanding and Manu played very well for us today.

"Across the board everybody's performance was good. I think that second half performance was outstanding. Our attitude was good, we wanted to come here and play.

"It was a massive game for both sides, we wanted to meet fire with fire at the scrum and lineout, keep them on the back foot, and be as positive as we could be. If you can stop Saints at set-piece they struggle to get rhythm into their game and that was the case.

"We spent all Tuesday morning brawling against each other doing lineout drive defence and I think the turning point was when they didn't score from those lineout drives in the second half, psychologically they were done for then. If you stop that it takes a big part of Saints' game away.

"Tom Croft had a disappointing afternoon in Cardiff, but I think he just needs rugby.

"He was outstanding today and by the time the Lions tour comes around he will probably be peaking - he is world class.

"The second spot is ours for the taking now and maybe even top spot depending on what Sarries do."

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