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Focus and confidence help Tigers home

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Tigers head coach Marcelo Loffreda believes his side's focus and confidence played substantial roles in Sunday's historic Guinness Premiership semi-final win over Gloucester at Kingsholm.

Just as they had done against Harlequins the previous week, Tigers overturned a half-time deficit to run out winners by 26 points to 25.

Tigers had gone into the game as clear outsiders with the bookmakers but tries from Alesana Tuilagi and Aaron Mauger, together with 16 points from the boot of Andy Goode, saw them defeat the league’s top seeds for the second time this season.

“The story was about the 80 minutes, not what had happened before or what was going to happen afterwards,” said Loffreda, who was delighted with the character shown once again by his players.

“We were very focused on that and I think that was maybe the key. We took advantage when we had opportunities to score, and sometimes they didn’t.

“The game was very level. I think Gloucester deserved to be the top team in the league but the rules say they have to play against the fourth-placed team. We were in a good mood, we had momentum and we had a lot of confidence.

“We made a lot of mistakes, though, and we were penalised many times. We talked very much about our discipline and control at half-time and the team reacted very well to that. That was really important for us.”

Tigers now face the Classic All Blacks at Welford Road this Sunday, before finishing their campaign with another appearance at Twickenham in the Guinness Premiership Final on May 31. Loffreda insists his team will be equally focused for that visit to English Rugby’s HQ, with mental preparation as important as physical practice for Tigers’ 38th game of the season.

“We will not work too hard physically because we cannot push the load too much over the next two weeks,” said Loffreda. “But we will try to prepare well mentally and that will be the key for us.”