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Richard Cockerill praises Freddie Burns after Racing 92 win

Published 23/10/2016

Freddie Burns kicks a penalty during the European Champions Cup win over Racing 92
Freddie Burns kicks a penalty during the European Champions Cup win over Racing 92

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill praised Freddie Burns' "stardust" qualities after the fly-half inspired Tigers' 27-17 European Champions Cup victory over Racing 92 at Welford Road.

Former England number 10 Burns scored 16 points, including an interception try, after going on as a second-half substitute to see Leicester home against last season's beaten Champions Cup finalists.

"We know Freddie has got some stardust about him," rugby director Cockerill said. "You take the risk with the intercept, and if it comes off, you are okay.

"Freddie is a very good footballer and he read it very well. Everything went right for him tonight, and I am delighted for him.

"Freddie is up for the challenge. If he is in the limelight, he is happy!

"Those sorts of personalties play in those sorts of positions, and he would have relished having the opportunity to show what he could do."

The Tigers knew they had to roar following a 42-13 drubbing by Pool One rivals Glasgow nine days ago - or face having their quarter-final hopes hanging by a thread.

And even though it was far from pretty, they delivered after flanker Brendon O'Connor scored an early try, before two Owen Williams penalties and then Burns' points haul saw them home.

New Zealand superstar Dan Carter scored 12 of Racing's points through a try, two conversions and a penalty, while wing Juan Imhoff touched down five minutes from time, yet the reigning Top 14 champions never got going as Leicester made it 15 games unbeaten against French opponents at Welford Road since Biarritz beat them in January 2005.

The Tigers have still got it all to do in a group that also includes Munster, and their December back-to-back meetings with the Irish province could prove pivotal.

Cockerill added: "I am delighted with the performance and the result, and to deny them anything out of the game is important. We defended well, and our set-piece was probably the difference.

"If we had lost this evening, it would have been very difficult to get out of the pool, especially after last week's performance.

"We are all aware of the expectation here. We could have lost tonight, but we were in the contest and put in a performance.

"I don't think we have turned the corner, particularly, we've just got to make sure we continue what we did tonight at Allianz Park (against Saracens) next Saturday.

"They (Racing) have an exceptional, world-class backline, and if you give them opportunities, they are going to cause you problems, but we controlled them reasonably well.

"We've sat in this room often enough and talked about the death of Leicester Tigers and of my tenure, but we just get on and coach. We've got a good group of players.

"We do seem to pull it out when we are under pressure. I just wish we would do it when we are not under pressure, but that just seems to be us at the minute."

It was not all trouble-free for Leicester though, and there was a long delay near the end when full-back Telusa Veainu went down injured following an attempted tackle on Racing lock Francois van der Merwe before being carried off.

Tigers' Australia international centre Matt Toomua, meanwhile, departed in the first half after hurting his knee.

"Matt stopped to try and step, and something has given way in his knee," Cockerill said. "We don't know the extent of that. We will find out in the next couple of days.

"I think it (Veainu) looked a lot worse than it was. He was sat up after the end of the game in the changing room. He looks okay."

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