Aviva Premiership: Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill admits they were fortunate to beat Exeter
Last Updated: 24/03/13 7:18am
Richard Cockerill: Leicester fortunate to beat Exeter
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill admitted his side was lucky to secure a 12-9 victory over Exeter in front of a sell-out crowd at Sandy Park.
Fly-half Toby Flood kicked all of the Tigers' points in a hard-fought contest in the west country, while his opposite number Gareth Steenson slotted over three penalties for the Chiefs.
Leicester's international players only returned on Monday after an absence of eight weeks and Cockerill admitted it took time to bring them back into the fold.
"A 12-all draw would probably have been a fair result to be fair to Exeter but this is a tough place to come," he said.
"We worked very hard and we had to integrate players back into the side after international duty.
"From my own experience, when you have a poor experience with the national side you want to come back to your club and get straight back into it. That is probably what you need rather than having the rest.
"It's always going to be hard without eight of your players which is the fulcrum of your side.
"I'm delighted with this win, the attitude was great. We could have done things better at times but that is life and you take the points.
"We had a bit of luck but we earned that probably against a good side.
"We picked as good a side as we could put out because we have respect for Exeter and how good they are on their own ground.
"It is going to be tough to be in the top two and we still have to make sure that we are in the top four because we play the sides around us in the next two games."
Steenson almost drew the Chiefs level in the final minute of the game but his touchline penalty attempt fell just short.
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter felt they made poor decisions at key moments in the contest that proved costly in the end.
"We had a kickable shot at goal when it was 9-9 but we turned it down and tapped and then we tapped again instead of clearing our lines with a kick. This gave them a piece of pressure that led to their winning penalty," said Baxter.
"You look at two moments like that and you can pull your hair out thinking about what we are playing at. We do encourage the guys to go for it and make decisions but there were a couple of bad ones today.
"When we play the top Premiership sides, when they are coming full on with their internationals back in, you have to make sure that you are in the fight for the full 80 minutes.
"That part of it was fantastic for us but what we have to add to it is, along with all that physical endeavour, those couple of moments of clarity that decide a 12-9 game."