Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill wants his side to be more clinical after they edged past Northampton Saints in a tense East Midlands derby at Welford Road on Saturday.
Cockerill’s side prevailed 19-11 in the end, but Saints had a chance to win it in the dying minutes, before Owen Williams’ final kick of the game notched another Tigers penalty and denied their bitter rivals a losing bonus point.
Tigers have now won seven of their ten Premiership fixtures this season, and four derbies in a row, but face a tough run of games in the coming weeks.
And Cockerill knows the value of beating their rivals.
“It wasn’t mean [to deny Saints the bonus point], it was perfect. It’s the nature of rivals,” he told the Premiership’s official website.
“We’re deadly rivals but they’re a good club, Jim’s got a good squad, but today was about winning and just chipping away at the top four. We needed to dig in at the end, because it was game on. All these games are pivotal in your season, if we lost today we’d drop back into that fifth, sixth, seventh, group.
“But we won today and we’ve catapulted ourselves back up. We’ve got to go to Exeter next round, and we know how tough that is, then Saracens at home and Wasps away. We’ve got a really tough run, but I just wish that we could perhaps show that spirit when we are attacking to get over the line and finish the game a bit earlier. Because, when we really needed to at the end, we showed what we are about, defensively, and the commitment was great, but sometimes we lacked that accuracy earlier in the game.”
Saints have now lost two games in a row, and have just four Premiership wins all season.
Their director of rugby, Jim Mallinder, admitted the game was a microcosm of their season, and highlighted their need to put more points on the board.
“It was, I suppose, typical of our season. We’ve put in a lot of effort but come away with nothing,” he said.
“There were some good parts to our play, I think we competed pretty well at times. Some of our defence was outstanding and players were really putting their bodies on the line. We gave ourselves a chance, with a few minutes to go we had an opportunity to score and win the game, but it’s one of those games and hasn’t really been our season.
“We’re not playing brilliantly but we’re working hard on our game and that is all we can do. We’ve got a dressing room full of disappointed players, they put a lot into it.We’ve got a great coaching team. Our set piece is very, very, good, and our defence is good. We’ve known for quite a long time that attack is not an area of our game that is going well at the moment, so that’s why we’re looking at making changes. We’re looking at the way we can play, and if we can get that part of our game sorted out then we’re going to be going back up the table.”