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Good start but it's still a tough pool says Cockerill

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Richard Cockerill praised an "intent to play" from the Leicester Tigers after securing a bonus-point victory over Stade Francais to kick off the European Rugby Champions Cup on Friday evening.A Welford Road crowd of more than 20,000 applauded tries from Vereniki Goneva, Matt Smith, Brendon O’Connor and Ben Youngs as Tigers came back from an early eight-point deficit to win 33-20 against the French league champions in Pool 4.   “Our intent to play was really good,” said director of rugby Cockerill. “Even when we went behind, we trusted ourselves and what we were doing, and eventually it brought its rewards.   “I’m pleased with how we're trying to play. I’m delighted for the players and the supporters tonight. We scored four tries but I think there is still a lot more to come from us.   “The set-piece went well, there were a lot of positives in the forwards, and there was a threat in the backline. Brendon O’Connor had a good debut, we got Ed Slater back on the field, Ben Youngs was a stand-out for us and there were plenty of positives around the team.   “It was tough for Stade coming on a five-day turnaround after a big game against Clermont in Paris on Sunday, then having to travel here. But I think we were pretty motivated after a poor performance at Exeter last weekend.   “It’s going to be a tight pool. Getting the extra point is really good and not allowing them to take anything is very important too. We’ve given ourselves a very good start but there is a long way to go.   “We’ve started to get towards where we want to go, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We won the first three Premiership games but played poorly in the fourth game at Exeter and lost. We’ll look at this game again on Monday and make sure we learn some lessons, certainly in defence. We've still got some massive games to come in this pool.”   Tom Croft was a late withdrawal as the result of a back injury despite training with the team on Thursday, but Cockerill confirmed he is expected to be fit again next week when Tigers go to Benetton Treviso in Round 2.   Italy international hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, though, made only a brief appearance before suffering what looked like a recurrence of the hamstring problem he picked up at the World Cup.   The next home game in the Champions Cup is against Munster Rugby on Sunday, December 20 (5.15pm). Tickets are available now. Book at Welford Road, phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2) or click here to book online.