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Frustrating start to year as Sarries pip Tigers

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Richard Cockerill says Leicester Tigers will have to "keep battling" after suffering defeat at home to Saracens in the opening game of 2017 on Sunday.

Tigers lost 16-12 in a tight encounter in front of a 25,000-strong New Year’s Day crowd at Welford Road, with Owen Farrell’s opportunist try in the second half proving  to be the decisive moment in the game.
“It’s frustrating because we needed to win and wanted to win,” Cockerill said. “But there are a lot of positives in the performance.
“It was a good game of rugby, both sides played well in tough conditions and we just fell short of the right result.
“I thought our set-piece was outstanding, the tight five were immense and we outplayed them there, which is no mean feat. The Saracens pack does not get dominated very often.
“Saracens are a very good side and I thought we were just as good today. Sometimes when you play these tight games you cannot afford to blink first and we probably blinked first.
“Our defence was very good, we combated them well. It was a very tight game, a tough and physical game of rugby. It could have gone either way.
“We made one error in our own half and they score, and that is the difference in the end.
“We just keep battling hard, we go to Wasps next and I will always back this side to get into the top four.”
Tigers lost Manu Tuilagi with a knee injury in the opening minutes of the game which required a reshuffle in the backline with Peter Betham joining Jack Roberts at centre.
“Manu got a whack on the outside of his knee,” said Cockerill. “We don’t know the extent of that until it settles over the next 24 or 48 hours. It’s disappointing because he is important to us. But credit to the players, they didn’t let it affect them.”
Tuilagi has been withdrawn from England’s 33-man squad for a two-day training camp in Brighton this week, with his place going to Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni.