Planet Rugby

Tuilagi return imminent - Cockerill

24th February 2014 07:43


SKY_MOBILE Manu Tuilagi Leicester Tigers

Manu Tuilagi: Set to face Newcastle

Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill revealed Manu Tuilagi is set for a return to Premiership action next week, following his side's gritty victory over London Irish.

The Tigers chalked up a third straight Premiership win, coming through 20-15 thanks to tries from Ben Youngs, Lugovi'i Mulipola and Niki Goneva but while they moved into the top four as a result, again they failed to find top gear.

Tuilagi's return would certainly add thrust however - the 22-year-old centre has not played for the Tigers since picking up a pectoral injury against Newcastle in September but Cockerill revealed he is set to return for his side's run-in, coincidentally starting against the Falcons next weekend.

"Manu is progressing and hopefully he will play some part against Newcastle next week," said Cockerill.

The Tigers scored three tries against the Exiles, who only had five penalties to show for their efforts, but with Marland Yarde coming off the bench in the second half after a lengthy injury lay-off to add some dynamism, the hosts finished the stronger and Leicester were hanging on.

Indeed, replacement Jebb Sinclair did dot down after a superb move from one end to the other by Irish - only for referee JP Doyle to rule a knock-on by Ofisa Treviranus just before.

Cockerill however, believes his side - now fourth after leapfrogging Harlequins - got what they deserved.

"I thought we were good value for the win as we scored three tries to zip and we stopped a side, which are very dangerous, from scoring," said Cockerill, who started with Owen Williams at fly-half with Toby Flood on the bench.

"I thought it was right to give Owen an opportunity - if a guy is playing better than the other guy, he deserves to be picked. I'm delighted for Owen, he's only 21 and he kicked well to obtain some good field positions."

While Irish did not cross the Tigers' try-line and were unable to make it four Premiership wins on the spin, there were plenty of positives from their performance with ball in hand, not least from inside centre Shane Geraghty.

Irish may well have been celebrating had James O'Connor, who added four penalties but missed his fair share, been more accurate from the tee.

"We did miss kickable chances, James thought that one of them went through the poles and wanted it reviewed by the TMO but his kicking tee was more affected by the wind and ultimately it was my decision to change the kicker," said the Exiles' director of rugby Brian Smith, who gave Ian Humphreys the responsibility for Irish's fifth penalty which ultimately earned his side a losing bonus point.

"But we weren't at our best and that's the reason why we lost."

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