Richard Cockerill acknowledged that Leicester Tigers are lacking a clinical edge after their low-scoring Aviva Premiership Rugby victory over London Irish on Sunday, but the director of rugby insist the outcome was a pleasing one.
The Tigers moved to within a point of the Premiership top four courtesy of nine points from the boot of Freddie Burns and three from David Mele, with Shane Geraghty converting two penalties in response in a 12-6 win for the visitors.
The Exiles produced a couple of try-scoring opportunities, but the sodden conditions did little to help the caginess of the clash, and Cockerill praised his players after the game for dealing with the issues, including the half-time withdrawal of Freddie Burns.
“You want to score tries and we are not scoring enough tries, but we have a lot of important people missing and that does affect you,” the Tigers boss said.
“Finding a way to dig in was really pleasing, and although we lost a bit of direction with Freddie gone and didn’t command the game, we soaked up the pressure.
“It was a scrappy and ugly game, but we have come away from home and won, and that is the key bit.”
Elsewhere, director of rugby Jim Mallinder was delighted with how Northampton Saints won the battle at the top of the league, defeating second-placed Bath 21-13 at the Recreation Ground.
An Olly Woodburn try and two Tom Homer penalties gave Bath a good start before scores from James Wilson and Mike Haywood and three Stephen Myler penalties handed Saints the victory.
The defeat was Bath’s first home loss of the season as Saints pushed their lead at the top to nine points.
"It is one of our best performances of the season,” said Mallinder. "We played well in the first half after a poor start. We had tempo and width and scored two good tries, then in the second half our defence won us the game.
"It is a nice cushion, but if we lose next week against Harlequins then it negates today's good win. We are very pleased. It is a good position to be in.”
In Manchester a Danny Cipriani-inspired Sale Sharks boosted their play-off hopes by beating Saracens 14-10 at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Cipriani converted first-half scores from Sam Tuitupou and Jonathan Mills, and Richard Barrington’s late reply for the visitors was not enough to prevent Sale jumping to fifth in the Premiership table.
And Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond believes Cipriani’s decision to sign a new deal at the club has had an effect on his impressive displays.
"Danny was given a simple question in December," he said. "He had to tell us by the end of February what he was doing and that was the only discussion we ever had.
"His performances have come from his contentedness of living up here. He's ambitious and so are we as a club."
Meanwhile a late Guy Thompson try earned Wasps a 23-23 draw away to Newcastle Falcons on Friday night.
Newcastle took an early lead through Alex Tait, but Wasps responded with two quick tries from Rob Miller and Elliot Daly.
The Falcons looked like they had the victory after Josh Furno and Juan Socino touched down but Daly fed Thompson and Andy Goode added the extras to clinch the draw.
"We're very frustrated at the way we played,” said director of rugby Dai Young.
“Take nothing away from Newcastle because this is always going to be a difficult place to come on Friday night, and they played some good stuff on occasions, but we made it difficult for ourselves.”
Exeter Chiefs Henry Slade scored 27 points as his side beat Harlequins 32-21 at The Stoop.
The 21-year-old kicked six penalties, two conversions and scored a try as Exeter moved in to the play-off places.
Ben White also scored for the Chiefs while Matt Hopper and Nick Evans, who got 16 point himself, responded for Quins.
And at Kingholm, Henry Purdy ran in two second-half tries to hand London Welsh another defeat as Gloucester Rugby won 48-10.
Ross Moriarty, Charlie Sharples, Matt Kvesic and Sila Puafisi also crossed over for the Cherry & Whites while captain Carl Kirwan touched down for the Exiles’ solitary response.
London Irish 6 Leicester Tigers 12
Penalties: Geraghty 2
Penalties: Burns 2, Mele
Drop Goals: Burns
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Bath Rugby 13 Northampton Saints 21
Penalties: Homer 2
Tries: Wilson, Haywood
Penalties: Myler 3
Referee: Greg Garner
Gloucester Rugby 48 London Welsh 10
Tries: Moriarty, Sharples, Kvesic, Purdy 2, Puafisi
Conversions: Hook 6
Penalties: Hook 2
Referee: Ian Tempest
Harlequins 21-32 Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Evans, Hopper
Penalties: Evans 3
Tries: White, Slade
Conversions: Slade 2
Penalties: Slade 6
Referee: Matthew Carley
Sale Sharks 14 Saracens 10
Tries: Mills, Tuitupou
Conversions: Cipriani 2
Referee: Dean Richards
Newcastle Falcons 23-23 Wasps
Tries: Tait, Furno, Socino
Penalties: Catterick 2
Tries: Miller, Daly, Thompson
Penalties: Goode 2
Referee: JP Doyle
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