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Cockerill livid with referee

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill criticised referee Greg Garner after his side's 22-19 Aviva Premiership defeat at home to London Irish.

Cockerill was angry that Leicester number eight Jordan Crane received a yellow card from referee Greg Garner for barging into a ruck, while Irish flanker Blair Cowan escaped with a ticking off after appearing to punch Jamie Gibson in the face.

Cockerill said he would take the matter up with the Rugby Football Union's head of referees, Tony Spreadbury, adding: "I need to understand from the officials what the regulations are.

"If a punch in the face is a penalty and a ticking off - I thought it was an automatic red card - and a player who drops his shoulder into someone lying on the wrong side gets a yellow card...

"I need to understand that. I didn't think the referee had a good performance.

"I'm unhappy with how he officiated and it was crucial to the game. Clearly, Greg Garner thinks it's alright to punch someone in the face and it's just a penalty.

"If that's the rule we need to revamp it because in the semi-final a punch in the face is a red card. That's not right, is it?

"Next week, if one of our players punches someone in the face, is that a penalty and we walk away?

"I don't want any sympathy, I just want referees to referee properly. The Jordan Crane decision was pretty off the scale!"

Shane Geraghty kicked a penalty after Crane's sin-binning and that proved the difference between the sides on a day when Leicester were missing almost half their squad due to injuries.

"I thought the team fronted up really well," said Cockerill.

"It was a very tight game that could have gone either way. Some crucial refereeing decisions went against us."

Geraghty's fifth penalty two minutes from time ended London's Irish Welford Road hoodoo.

It earned them their first win at the home of the Tigers for 11 years and condemned Leicester to a second successive defeat, following the 45-0 thrashing at Bath.

Prop Halani Aulika scored Irish's only try, while Verenki Goneva replied for Leicester, whose other points came from Freddie Burns kicking three penalties and a conversion, and Owen Williams' monster penalty from 55 metres.

Irish director of rugby Brian Smith, a former Leicester fly-half, said the win would give his side some much needed belief.

He said: "The result is great, but we are not crowing because we realise the Tigers are wounded.

"We wish them well going forward but we will take the win. We are not the finished article but that gives us belief.

"For a long time now, coming here and getting a win has been one of the biggest scalps in English rugby.

"I know this club, they are very proud and I knew they would fight back after last week.

"For us the result gives us momentum and momentum is everything. We will keep our feet on the ground and have a big dig at our place against Northampton and see how we go."

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