Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Tigers eyeing faint last-eight spot

Richard Cockerill accepts that Leicester have to chase a perfect 10 out of 10 in their quest for a European Champions Cup quarter-final place.

The Tigers have it all to do in Pool Three, trailing leaders Toulon by five points with just two games left.

Leicester host the Scarlets on Friday night, and then tackle Ulster in Belfast next weekend, with their last-eight hopes likely to be dashed unless Tigers can collect a five-point maximum on each occasion.

Five pool winners and the three best runners-up will progress to the opening knockout phase.

"Eighteen points might just be good enough to allow us to creep in as one of the three best runners-up, but 16 or 17 probably won't be," Leicester rugby director Cockerill said.

"I've told the players that we need to get our attacking mindset right and go for two bonus-point victories.

"We need to win, we need maximum points out of our final two games to have any chance of qualifying, and it is a big ask.

"The one thing we have not been scoring is tries, to be fair, and we need to get our attacking mindset right and make sure we take the game to the Scarlets. It will be a very important game for us, for sure.

The Scarlets, currently level on points with Leicester, beat Tigers 15-3 when the teams last met three months ago, and Cockerill added: "They played well against us down there (in Wales). They were physical, and we made some poor errors.

"We know what they will bring, and we need to be more accurate and make sure we cut out those errors.

"We will then reassess after the weekend and see what we may need to do against Ulster in our final game."

Leicester welcome back New Zealand World Cup-winning lock Brad Thorn, who has been sidelined by a calf muscle injury, while prop Logovi'i Mulipola also features, with Freddie Burns and Seremaia Bai handed opportunities behind the scrum.

For their part, the Scarlets have been badly affected by injuries, with internationals Liam Williams (shoulder), Samson Lee (neck) and Ken Owens (neck) among those sidelined, although both Williams and Lee are expected to be fit ahead of Wales' forthcoming RBS 6 Nations campaign.

"We have a pretty extensive injury toll, but there is not a lot we can do about that," Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said.

"We are very much still in the hunt. We've put in four pretty good performances in the first four games, with two wins.

"It's a big game, there is a lot riding on it. We are second-equal with Leicester, and the winner of this game is still in with a chance next week."

The second-tier European Challenge Cup also resumes on Friday night, with Cardiff Blues hosting Rovigo in Pool One and Pool Four strugglers London Welsh visiting Bordeaux-Begles.

The Blues, level on points with London Irish, include Rhys Patchell at full-back for his first start since being injured in early November, but injuries and suspension in the second-row mean that Wales international prop Scott Andrews packs down at lock alongside Chris Dicomidis.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph