Cockerill: Leicester lucky to beat Saints

Saints suffered an agonising 30-27 defeat at Welford Road (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Saints suffered an agonising 30-27 defeat at Welford Road (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

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Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill admits his side were ‘lucky to get the four points’ in their win against Saints at Welford Road on Saturday.

And Cockerill concedes Jim Mallinder’s men had reason to feel aggrieved at the outcome of a thrilling east midlands derby.

Saints gave away a last-gasp penalty, which Freddie Burns landed, as Tigers snatched a 30-27 victory.

The home side had got off the hook after seeing their rivals power back from 21-0 down to level at 27-27.

And Cockerill said: “As we entered the closing stages of the game, I was thinking, how the hell did we get to that stage.

“We started well and had a good first 30 minutes but to let them back in was disappointing. It was frustrating really.

“Credit to our guys for the first 30 minutes and for digging themselves out of a hole they should never have been in. We should have known better.

“We were lucky to get the four points. They will feel aggrieved I am sure.”

Saints were irked by a couple of key calls from referee Wayne Barnes, who disallowed a Paul Hill try for a high tackle in the build-up.

That effort would have put Mallinder’s men ahead for the first time, but eventually it was to be Tigers who claimed a crucial Aviva Premiership victory.

“They got back into it when we went away from what got us to 21-0 ahead,” said Cockerill. “They are too good a side not to come back into it and they did just that.

“Suddenly it was an 11-point game at half-time. Then we were loose and (George) North scores and we put oxygen in their lungs as well as putting ourselves under pressure.

“We have to keep improving those parts. We should have kept doing what we were doing. When we were 10 points up and it was raining, we played too much rugby as well.

“But good sides win when they do average things and we were doing some average things. We found ways to win, however fortuitous that may have been.

“We will take the win but we have things to improve on.”