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Defiant Tigers fight hard at Fortress Welford Road

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As scalps go, it was a pretty big one. It was also a very important one.

A home defeat against Racing 92 last Sunday would have signalled the end of the European Cup campaign for Tigers before it had even started. It would take an optimist of major proportions to predict a full recovery from defeat in the opening two games in a pool as competitive as this one.
Instead, a 27-17 victory over the French champions has thrown the pool open again, with something riding on every game for each of the four teams in Pool 1. You can see it staying that way too well into the new year and the final pool rounds.
Cockers said he wouldn’t be getting carried away after the 27-17 win, but he would have enjoyed it all the same. The dogged determination was there, the linespeed in defence was there, the defiance on the Tigers tryline was there for all to see, the set-piece had a big day against a massive Racing eight and there was not an ounce of energy left unused.
Tom Youngs and Ed Slater typified the defiance and the willpower of the Tigers team, Lachlan McCaffrey and Brendon O’Connor fought it out in the face of the battle too and props Ayerza and Cole were in no mood to take a step backwards. There was a lot to admire from the Tigers team.
There were undoubtedly moments when a star-studded Racing threatened to fin d a way through, and with the gap down to seven points in the closing stages, nerves were starting to fray in the stands. But after closing out the win the name of Racing 92 can now be added to a list alongside Toulon, Toulouse, Clermont Auvergne, Perpignan, Montpellier and Stade Francais who have all crossed the Channel to play in the European Cup at Welford Road in the last decade and headed home beaten.
That is a list to lift the spirits of any player or any supporter. You’d be pretty pleased if your domestic fixture list showed home wins against each of that group.
Tigers may not have lifted the trophy since 2002 or been in the final since 2009, but the players who put their bodies on the line in high-pressure circumstances last Sunday did the shirt proud on a day to rank with so many great moments from previous years.