Saturday 17 March 2018

Richard Cockerill looking forward after win over Munster

Richard Cockerill saw his Leicester side secure an impressive win
Richard Cockerill saw his Leicester side secure an impressive win

Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill says next Sunday's return fixture with Munster at Welford Road is "absolutely critical" to their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the European Champions Cup.

Clinical Leicester became the first team to win twice at Thomond Park in European competition after securing an exciting 31-19 victory over Anthony Foley's misfiring Munster side.

Leicester, who led 18-6 at half-time, outscored their opponents by three tries to two - Vereniki Goneva, Mike Fitzgerald and Ben Youngs all touched down - to take a firm grip on Pool 4 ahead of next weekend's rematch.

"For Leicester Tigers, next week's game is the most important of the pool," a pleased Cockerill insisted afterwards, with his charges now nine points clear at the top of the table.

"If we can win next week, then in round five we entertain Treviso. If we win next week that will put us on 18 points with Treviso to come at home. That clearly puts us in a good position to qualify from the group before we go to Paris (to play Stade Francais). Next week, for us, is absolutely critical.

"Munster are a fantastic club. They are steeped in tradition. They played very well tonight. We probably got the rub of the green.

"Next week we will be doubling our efforts, as Munster will. We know they have to come to Welford Road and they have to win. That makes them very dangerous.

"Munster are a good side. They have been criticised pretty unfairly for what I have seen in the early part of this season. We came here with a huge amount of respect for them and probably the final scoreline flattered us a bit today."

This was just the fifth time in 67 matches that Munster had failed to win at home in European competition.

Their head coach Anthony Foley was a frustrated figure after the game and felt referee Romain Poite's decision to reverse a penalty against his side when it was 6-6 in the first half was a key incident.

"It was a massive turning point in the game. I will go with that," he said.

"Then we overthrow a lineout, we don't react quick enough and they score (through Fitzgerald). It was 18-6 at half-time.

"The boys came out, scored straight away, a good opportunist try. We missed a few kicks at goal. We didn't get close enough at times and then gave up another soft try.

"Leicester took their opportunities, scored three tries and we end up getting nothing out of a game at home. It is a hard one to figure out at the moment.

"It can be turned around in a week. We created enough opportunities in the game. We turned over a lot of ball in their 22. I thought at times the boys played well. It was just having the ability to keep the pressure on the opposition and we took the foot off too many times."

Press Association

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