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Cockerill accepts Tigers exit


Richard Cockerill

Richard Cockerill

Richard Cockerill

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill offered no excuses for the Tigers' Heineken Cup demise after they lost a titanic quarter-final against Leinster.

Four Jonathan Sexton penalties and an Isa Nacewa try saw off Leicester 17-10 at the Aviva Stadium to book a semi-final appointment with Biarritz or Toulouse. The Tigers replied with a late Rob Hawkins touchdown that Toby Flood converted to add to an earlier penalty, but the Aviva Premiership title favourites never seriously threatened.

"We can't complain," said Cockerill. "We had opportunities to win, but we didn't take them, and against a side like Leinster it will come back to bite you on the backside."

He added: "When the pressure comes on in the big games, you have got to execute those chances, but I have nothing but praise for our boys.

"At 17-3 down, a lot of sides would have given up the ghost. We showed great attitude and spirit. That fighting spirit will always be there, but the result is hugely disappointing - it was that tight."

Those fine margins were illustrated early in the second period when Leicester wing Alesana Tuilagi appeared to have crossed Leinster's line, despite a crunching Sean O'Brien tackle, but it was ruled out by the video referee.

"There were millimetres in it, It wasn't a try, but it was a really good break by Alesana to get himself into the position where he got to," Cockerill said. "Again, we are talking about tiny margins."

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt hailed a huge defensive effort from his team that underpinned a victory which leaves them needing two more wins to capture a second European title following their 2009 success.

Schmidt said: "There were a number of turning points in the game - it swung backwards and forwards. We missed a couple of chances in the first half - we made some fantastic line breaks we didn't finish - but we also had pressure on the scoreboard.

"Leicester were always playing catch-up, but massive respect for our defence. We held them out through multiple phases. Leo Cullen was massive for us. He impressed me early in the week when he was devising our lineout defence, and I thought our lineout defence was another turning point."

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