Leicester Tigers' director of rugby Richard Cockerill delighted to silence critics
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill was delighted that his team "stuck it up" the club's doubters after a memorable afternoon of Heineken Cup rugby.
Three tries in the final nine minutes of a pulsating contest at Welford Road yesterday saw Leicester break a 19-19 tie to pick up a 39-22 bonus-point win against the Ospreys.
With England fly-half Toby Flood leading the way by kicking goals from well inside his own half, and partner Ben Youngs earning the man-of-the-match award, Cockerill was full of praise for his charges.
After a week in which many pundits had laid into the club in the wake of their defeat in Toulouse, Cockerill was beaming as the comprehensive win means Pool Two remains wide open.
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"We have had a lot poked at us this week," he said. "Not just me and the team, but the very fabric of the club with us not getting a game for the (2015) World Cup as well.
"It was a classic European game at Welford Road. And I am glad it has stuck it up some people who were happy to criticise us in the rugby world.
"The boys went out and fronted up. It's their team and they wanted to play and wanted to win.
"That last 10 minutes showed the spirit this team has got. The effort from our players, which has been questioned unfairly this week, was superb and they should take the plaudits.
"We have had a tough week and questioned what we do. People have had a pop at us and asked if we are a spent force. Well, it was our day."
The result put Tigers in joint second place with the Ospreys in Pool Two on five points, with Toulouse leading the way on eight points.
Leicester's next game in Europe is a double-header with Italian side Treviso in December, and Cockerill will be hoping his side again have the belief and composure they showed after the Ospreys raced out into an early 10-0 lead.
"At 10-0 down, we played ourselves back into it and kept our composure," said Cockerill. "Getting back into the game and making it 10-10 at half-time was important.
"I felt the tide was turning because they played very well in the first 20 minutes but we looked fresh going into the break. We gave away too many penalties as a whole but it was the result that we needed."