Leicester's Richard Cockerill targets top-two finish

Richard Cockerill

Defiant Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill says a top-two Premiership finish is still on the agenda after the late win at Saracens.

Tigers won 20-19 thanks to Geordan Murphy's drop goal and Cockerill was full of praise for his side's display.

Cockerill told BBC Radio Leicester: "It's up for grabs and that win opens it up for everybody.

"The boys were outstanding. We're in the mix and I hope we get in the semis and prove some of the doubters wrong."

Tigers are fourth in the table - one point behind third-place Northampton and eight points behind second-place Sarries.

And Cockerill said it is crucial his side build on Sunday's battling performance and victory.

"I'm hoping this win will turn our mentality and fortune," Cockerill added.

"The mentality and manner of the win was outstanding. We were playing under own sticks to win the game. We could have just kicked it out and taken the bonus point but we didn't.

"We had four tightheads missing and dismantled their scrum for large parts of the game. The players take the credit.

"We saw a team playing for each other and that was the most pleasing thing. That bit of fear sometimes - which maybe we didn't have last week [against Exeter] - can get the best out of people.

"We have a great bunch of blokes. Sometimes it goes against us and we have had so much thrown at us this year, and a lot thrown at me personally about how poor I am, but we are not far away from being a good side. We have to take everything with a measured view but we were great.

"The expectation and pressure has been heavy on everybody and hopefully this win will lift that. We have to play with that mentality against Newcastle next week.

"They are on the turn and they will be a danger. We need a big win and let's hope the supporters get behind this team."

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Cockerill praises Tigers' attitude

But Cockerill is resigned to being without fit-again backs Toby Flood and Manu Tuilagi against the Falcons. Both starred in the win over Saracens but Cockerill fully expects them to be back in the England fold for the Six Nations match against Wales.

"They will be in the mix," the Leicester director added. "They are two very important players [for England].

"They are still a bit short of match fitness but you would expect them to go. If that means that young guys have to step up and play for us next week then that's the way it is."

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