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Cockerill looks for a bright start

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After closing 2007 with a win over London Irish last weekend, Leicester Tigers kick off the New Year with a trip to Dean Richards’ Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday afternoon (1.15pm kick-off).

Tigers are in fifth place in the Guinness Premiership table, one point and one place better off than hosts Quins, and forwards coach Richard Cockerill is anticipating a tight tussle.

“The win over London Irish was important, it was our first win with a bonus point in the league and it keeps us up there in the table,” said Cockerill, a former teammate of Richards at Welford Road.

“We played some good stuff on Saturday but it was a bit frustrating that we scored four tries to one and just won by eight points. We have got to work on our execution and we’ve got to be a bit brighter.

“We turned over too much ball and gave away silly penalties. Giving teams easy points will cost you.”

Harlequins have kept pace with the leading group in the Guinness Premiership ever since kicking off the season with maximum-points wins on the opening two weekends. Like Tigers, they also bid farewell to the old year with victory, scoring two tries in a 10-7 win at Worcester Warriors last Saturday and in fly-half Chris Malone they have the league’s top points scorer so far this season.

“Quins are a team we respect greatly,” added Cockerill. “We know Dean will have them motivated and they will be very difficult to play against. The rivalry is there for obvious reasons but I’m sure Dean will be more concerned with the match points.

“Whichever team wins will cement themselves in the top four or five so it is an important game.”