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Cockerill thankful for home win in final round

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Richard Cockerill was delighted that Leicester Tigers came through their final home game of the season with a victory on Saturday.

Both Tigers and top-of-the-table visitors Saracens claimed four tries in a 31-27 victory which secured third place in the Aviva Premiership table and booked a semi-final against Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens next Friday evening.
Tigers director of rugby Cockerill said: “It was a bit loose all round and I would imagine a bit frustrating for both sets of coaches, but both sides did some good things.
“Both sides rested a few players for obvious reasons, but both were very committed and now we can both look forward to the semi-finals.
“You always want to win your home games, especially the last home game when you’ve got a full house and you want them to go home happy. We rested eight or nine players and they will be fresh for training on Monday, while Saracens have managed their squad sensibly and will take a lot of positives from the way some of their young guys played and have a fresh team for their semi-final next weekend.”
Cockerill described the sin-binning of Saracens wing Michael Tagicakibau for a dangerous tackle on Marcos Ayerza early in the second half, followed just two minutes later by a red card for flanker Justin Melck, as a crucial period in the game, though he also pointed to errors by Tigers in failing to push home the advantage more forcefully.
“Saracens played very well with the side they sent, and the sin bin and the red card probably provided a tipping point for the game,” he said.
“But even after that we made some poor individual errors and it was tight in the end.”
Saracens issued a statement after the game announcing they would seek to overturn the red card shown to Melck after the referee’s assistant indicated contact with the eye area of a Tigers player.
“Neil Briggs said it was not gouging, it was a hand across the bottom of his face,” said Cockerill. “He says it was a mistake by the official rather than anything. I don’t think Melck is a dirty player and hopefully that will get resolved with the authorities.”
Saturday’s game provided a final home appearance for several of the squad, including Toby Flood, Thomas Waldrom, Boris Stankovich and Rob Hawkins, and all were able to acknowledge record-breaking levels of support at the final whistle.
The afternoon also provided an opportunity to welcome back back-rower Tom Croft after nine months on the sidelines with a knee injury suffered in the opening game of the season.
Croft ran out as a second-half replacement and Cockerill said: “It was great to see Tom back on the field and running around again. That is encouraging moving forward.”