Cockerill delighted with fightback
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill paid tribute to the character of his side as they came from 30-15 behind to defeat Sale Sharks 32-30 at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The Midlands outfit were a shambles defensively for 45 minutes, conceding tries from Chris Cusiter, Will Addison, Nathan Hines and Sam Tuitupou.
However, they produced a superb response once the replacements came on to the field and touchdowns from Miles Benjamin and Julian Salvi, as well as an Owen Williams penalty, salvaged a crucial win.
Although Cockerill was frustrated by their performance in the first half, the Leicester boss praised how they responded.
He said: "I was disappointed with how we started the game, disappointed with how we defended and then we got ourselves back in the game. We were just too easy to score against.
"At half-time I knew we had the ability to get back into the game. At 30-15 the message was to keep playing because if we scored next we would put them under pressure, but our ability to get ourselves into a deep hole was remarkable.
"Credit to the players they played themselves out of the hole and they got themselves into a position to win the game.
"Credit to Sale as well, they played exceptionally well. They took advantage of our limpness in defence and credit to Leicester for working it out and getting themselves back into the game to give them a chance to win it."
The Tigers perhaps should have been out of contention after the hosts' fourth score, such was the dominance and control Sale exerted in the first 40 minutes.
Certainly, the Sharks' director of rugby Steve Diamond was frustrated by their inability to complete what would have been a vital victory for the team.
"I'm not sure that we needed to see the game out. We just needed to carry on playing in that scenario and we probably closed up a little bit which gave them the opportunities that they got," Diamond said.
"Combined with our ill-discipline, they got back in it and they thoroughly deserved the win.
"It was a good game all the way through and they were more experienced than us in the last 10 minutes.
"We were slightly ill-disciplined in the last 15 minutes and let them get a sniff back in. They're a good side as we know, they're used to winning games like that and they did it today."