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Richard Cockerill bullish despite Leicester defeat

Published 07/05/2016

Richard Cockerill says Leicester are in good shape
Richard Cockerill says Leicester are in good shape

Leicester Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill was philosophical about a 38-27 defeat at Bath after keeping most of his first team under wraps ahead of a play-off semi-final in two weeks.

And he will be giving his players a break for most of next week before they regroup to take on Saracens.

Cockerill said: "We've never won there but our game's in good shape and we were able to rest bodies today."

This time last year, Tigers were hammered 47-10 by Bath in the play-off semi-final.

But Cockerill pointed out: "Bath were second last year - now, they're ninth. We're in our 12th play-offs on the trot and 10 of those have been Grand Finals.

"We're a strong club with a strong history. Sometimes you get beaten - but we're still in a semi-final.

"We have good systems and work pretty hard, as is our recruitment. And we're pretty belligerent. There's a bit of a party atmosphere around Bath this afternoon - but you wouldn't get that at Leicester if we finished ninth."

On the preparation for the Saracens game, he said: "We'll train in the early part of this week coming but we'll then give the boys some down time. We've now got to plan and get everything dead right."

Bath head coach Mike Ford was relieved to finish a poor campaign on a winning note.

"It's a win, which is great for me because you don't want to be dwelling on a loss too much. Could it have been better? It could have been a lot better," he said.

"At half-time we just talked about the drive to win and going out to take the game and put that extra yard and energy in. Anthony (Watson) set the tone of the second half with his break and we managed to score and the second-half was a lot better."

He admitted this was achieved against a below-strength Leicester side.

"This is their second/third team but we've got to move on from here. It has been a disappointment [the season] but I also think that it is not a failure as long as we learn from it. We are going to learn from this year and are going to come back stronger," he said.

Ford must now turn his attention to recruiting a coach to replace scrum guru Neal Hatley, who has joined the England set-up.

He said: "You recruit a player to play your way whatever that is. It's the same with a coach. Do we want a coach who is going to be mauling, picking and going in tight quarters? Or the one who has a bit of adventure? They need to suit our style and our philosophy really."

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