Richard Cockerill: Leicester need 10 points to reach quarter-finals

Tigers director of rugby believes his side must take maximum points from their final two European Champions Cup pool 5 matches

By Gareth Llewellyn

Richard Cockerill insists that Leicester Tigers need bonus-point wins from their final two European Champions Cup matches to reach the quarter-finals.

The Tigers are second in pool 5, level on points with the Scarlets ahead of their round five clash at Welford Road tonight, but trail reigning champions Toulon by five points with two matches to play.

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.

Richard Cockerill

A surprise 15-3 defeat to the Scarlets in Llanelli back in October briefly derailed the English club, before a home win over Toulon in December gave them hope that qualification is still possible.

Cockerill’s side are overwhelming favourites to defeat the injury hit West Walians, who have not won on the road since February 2014, but the Tigers boss believes that they need a win with a bonus point ahead of a tough trip to the Kingspan Stadium to take on Ulster next week.

“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,” 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.”

With Toulon expected to maintain their position at the top of the table after their remaining games against Ulster and the Scarlets, the Tigers’ best chance of qualification could come as one of the three best runners-up.

The manner of the defeat against the Scarlets, who have made the Parc y Scarlets a fortress in contrast to their dismal away record, was disappointing for the Aviva Premiership club and Cockerill wants a much improved performance in front of at a packed Welford Road.

They played well against us down there. 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.

Richard Cockerill

The Scarlets’ injury problems up front continue to be a problem with experienced hookers Ken Owens and Emyr Phillips, as well as tighthead props Samson Lee and Rhodri Jones all out through injury.

The loss of dangerous Wales full-back Liam Williams to a shoulder issue has also hit the Scarlets, while Cockerill has been able to call upon a pair of experienced forwards as Rugby World Cup-winning lock Brad Thorn and prop Logovi’i Mulipola return, with England outside-half Freddie Burns preferred to former Scarlets man Owen Williams to pull the strings behind the scrum.

“The one thing we have not been scoring is tries,” he added.

“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.

“They played well against us down there. 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.”

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