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Cockerill praises Burns

Leicester's director of rugby Richard Cockerill has praised Freddie Burns, but stressed the fly-half needs to keep improving despite kicking 11 points as Leicester Tigers edged to a 24-20 win at Exeter.

Exeter led 17-13 at half time after tries from Dave Ewers and Hayden Thomas, which were both converted by Gareth Steenson - who also added a penalty,- with Leicester replying through an Anthony Allen try plus a conversion and two penalties from Freddie Burns.

Burns added a third penalty early in the second half but was unable to convert the Tigers second try through skipper Ben Youngs. Steenson and Tigers replacement fly-half Owen Williams exchanged penalties in the final 10 minutes.

"Freddie is working really hard and I would like him to make every decision perfect rather than cock-up occasionally," Cockerill said.

"He has worked very hard at training; is trying to use the right options and the right times - sometimes he will get it right, sometimes he won't - but I was happy with him today. He kicks his goals and got us into some field positions."

Cockerill says their strong start does not take any pressure off next weekend's game against Bath because with Autumn internationals coming up, when they will lose a lot of players, he wants to get as many points as possible.

"It is a good win on the road and you take it as that. We won't get too excited about the result; we will take some positives but there are a lot of things where we need to be better," added Cockerill.

"Any win is a good win because I think sides will get beat here (at Exeter) that will be in and around us. I thought that Exeter played pretty well, I thought we could have played better but both sides had players missing.

"We told the players at half time that we wanted more accuracy. In the first half there were opportunities to counter-attack and we executed poorly. You can't give silly penalties away; you can't get pinned in your own half an that was a bit frustrating.

"Our kicking game in the first half was a little aimless at times but in the second half we were better. I thought our defence, apart from their two tries - where we slipped off tackles close to the line - was pretty good."

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter was understandably disappointed to lose a close Aviva Premiership match at home but stressed that six points out of a possible 10 wasn't a bad start to the season.

"That could prove to be a very valuable losing bonus point for us at some stage, yes we want to win, but I can take it on the chin when we show the endeavour to go out and win the game," said Baxter.

"When we keep that mindset about us we are a good side and can compete with anybody. I try not to get carried away when a game comes down to one or two moments because there is no value in that.

"I am a little frustrated with some elements of his our game but we probably needed a game like Leicester to expose them a bit. We didn't exit particularly well a couple of times and that gifted Leicester some points.

"We lost a little bit of composure around our line out and again that allowed Leicester to do what they do which is squeeze you. It feels like we have been squeezed out, more than ripped out of the game."


From Belfast Telegraph