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'Everyone played their part in semi-final success'

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Richard Cockerill says Saturday's Aviva Premiership semi-final was a win for everybody who has played their part for Leicester Tigers this season.

Tigers claimed four tries in a 33-16 semi-final victory over defending champions Harlequins at Welford Road to book a trip to Twickenham for a ninth successive Premiership Final.

Vereniki Goneva, Niall Morris, Tom Croft and Mathew Tait claimed the tries, Tait also received the Aviva man-of-the-match honours and head coach Matt O’Connor enjoyed a victory in his last game at Welford Road before moving to Leinster in the summer.

But Cockerill said the victory was reward for everyone involved.

“As a club we work hard, we’ve got good coaches, good players, good infrastructure from top to bottom, and I suppose you get a bit of good luck too along the way,” said Cockerill after the final whistle of another big Welford Road occasion.

“I’m delighted for the players and for Matt O’Connor – he has been fantastic for us and now he has one more game to coach for us.

"The players have been great, they've all played a part. Whichever points we picked up when they played are the points that have got us this far so it is a big effort from everyone. 

"Matt O'Connor has been great, so have Richard Blaze and Paul Burke and everybody behind the scenes, all the conditioning staff, the medical and physio staff, all the support staff. They all work so hard and all play a massive part.

“The supporters have been awesome again, they always play their part for the team and now they’ve got another big day to look forward to.

“It is not about an individual, it is the club. Everybody was part of it today. I want to publicly thank all of them.

“I’m delighted with the performance, delighted for the guys. It was a tough first half with the elements then against the elements in the second half we played really, really well.”

Cockerill identified the period approaching half-time as crucial, when Tom Croft produced a try-saving tackle on Quins scrum-half Danny Care, Tigers full-back Mathew Tait cut down George Lowe just short of the tryline, a Toby Flood penalty cut the deficit to just 6-9 and then Tigers claimed the opening try of the day through Vereniki Goneva on the stroke of half-time.

“That try was crucial,” said Cockerill. “Care scores in the corner at that stage and it is difficult to come back in the second half. But we dug in, we got the try just before the break and that helped us.

“Our defence was outstanding. You saw that in the last play of the game, we just kept defending. The attitude was as good as it gets, it was about gritting your teeth, picking yourself up and keep knocking them over.

“Across the board the players were outstanding. They are a very good side but we out-played them. We really wanted the win to get to the final and give ourselves a chance.

“We’ve won nothing yet, though, and you have to temper the performance and the excitement of the win today with the fact we still have to go to a final and try to win it.”