Aviva Premiership: Cockerill urges Tigers to ‘move on’ from Bath draw
Aviva Premiership: Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill urges his side to move on after a draw with Bath
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill did not know whether to laugh or cry after his side snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat against Bath Rugby on Sunday afternoon.
Jamie Gibson’s last gasp try levelled the scores at 27-27 at Welford Road to deny Bath a first win there in over a decade but Owen Williams’ conversion to win it for the hosts leaked wide to the right.
George Ford pulled the strings in a superb fly-half display against his former employers as Anthony Watson, Francois Louw and Jonathan Joseph all went over for the visitors.
But after late efforts from Thomas Waldrom and Gibson, to go with Miles Benjamin’s effort at the very start of the match, a draw was possibly the fair result as Bath stay third and the Tigers, fifth, level on points with Quins in the fourth and final play-off spot.
“In the context of what happened in the game we would have taken the draw, we could have won it with the conversion at the end,” said Cockerill.
“It was a good game, it ebbed and flowed. We made some schoolboy errors in defence and Bath took their tries well.
“But it was a contest between two good sides who both had a crack, we will take the two points and move on.
“I would never question our character and resolve, we are still playing to get back in the game at ten points down.
“It’s not dead, we will get players back soon and we share the spoils, we would have liked to win it and push up to the top four but we are there or thereabouts.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, Andy Goode called on all of his experience to slot a last-minute drop goal to seal a 16-13 win for London Wasps against Exeter Chiefs.
In the battle between the two mid-table sides it was Exeter who struck first as Dave Lewis went over to help the visitors open up a 13-3 lead at the break.
But Joe Simpson went over in front of the Adams Park faithful to set the stage for Goode to seal a comeback victory that lifts them up to sixth in the table.
On Saturday London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith admitted he is doing all he can to keep hold of James O’Connor after the Australian’s masterclass helped down Worcester Warriors.
O’Connor scored his first Exiles try and kicked 17 points to seal a 22-9 win that pulls his new side further clear of Worcester at the foot of the Aviva Premiership – extending the gap to 14 points and lifting them above Newcastle Falcons.
The 23-year-old arrived at the club in October on a deal until the end of the season and while he is already being linked with a host of European clubs, Smith hopes he will stay where he is.
“James is a world-class player and I think you saw that,” he said.
“He’ll go back in January 2015 and play in rugby in Australia and for the Wallabies in the build-up to the World Cup.
“He’s fitting in well here. He’s coming from the cutting edge of international rugby and he’s got some good ideas.
“We’re hoping to keep him until January 2015, but there are some French clubs throwing ridiculous money at players.
“It comes down to the player and what they want to do and James has his heart on playing for the Wallabies again. He’ll start that in Jan 2015 – we’ve got him for the rest of this season and, if we’re really fortunate, the start of next as well.”
Elsewhere league leaders Saracens continued their dominant start to the season with a 29-8 victory over Gloucester at Kingsholm.
Neil de Kock, David Strettle and Alex Goode all crossed in the first half an hour of the game and Mark McCall insists his side are now firing on all cylinders.
“I think the first 30 minutes was as good as we’ve been in terms of our overall game,” he said.
“Our set-piece was dominant, our kicking game and intensity were at a high level, and we combined that with some really good rugby as well.
“To be 19-0 up away from home against Gloucester takes a bit of doing. It was a great performance.”
And on Friday George North’s second-half try proved vital as Northampton Saints secured a 23-9 win over Harlequins at Franklin’s Gardens.
Dylan Hartley’s late score added a touch of gloss to the scoreline but Saints and Sarries are now further clear as the top two in the league.
Sale Sharks’ challenge for a top-six finish is still very much on the go as well – Tom Brady’s first-half try and a combination of the boots of Danny Cipriani and Nick MacLeod sealed a 16-8 victory, only their second ever in the Premiership at Kingston Park.