Richard Cockerill remains optimistic that his Leicester Tigers side still have not hit top gear yet in Aviva Premiership Rugby, despite starting the season with back-to-back victories.
Laurence Pearce’s crucial second-half try saw a tenacious Leicester edge out Harlequins 22-19 at Welford Road on Sunday, after Jack Clifford’s score had given the visitors the lead at the interval.
Tommy Bell and Nick Evans were equally impressive with the boot in a nip-and-tuck affair that Harlequins could have stolen at the death, when they opted to go for the corner rather than kick a penalty to level the scores and leave with a draw.
But Cockerill is adamant that their attacking philosophy under new head coach Aaron Mauger will soon come to the fore and then Leicester will be a force to be reckoned with.
“It was a pretty average performance from us, but there was at least a lot of heart there to get us through at the end,” he said.
“We are still trying to play more rugby, but we exited our half poorly and put ourselves under pressure, and Quins are a good side too.
“We’re still trying to develop and grow so there’s always going to be some teething problems on the way, and I thought we had a little bit of that today.
“But we’ll get back out on the training field on Tuesday with everyone and we will work even harder to iron out the bumps in our game.”
Saracens also maintained their unbeaten start to the season on Friday evening, when Owen Farrell’s lasp-gasp penalty seeing them grind out a 17-15 win at Gloucester Rugby.
Mike Ellery notched the only try of the game – his third in just his second league appearance – early on for the defending Aviva Premiership Rugby champions, before Farrell emerged victorious from a battle of the boots with Billy Twelvetrees.
And Gloucester’s director of rugby David Humphreys admitted their opponents demonstrated how important it is to come away with a win when you are not firing on all cylinders.
“Saracens showed why they are a champion team – they found a way to win the game,” he said. “I thought for large parts of the game we were in control and physically we matched Saracens.
“Our energy and effort was right up there but we've got to take the opportunities we create and if we can do that, we'll be a good team.
“Small decisions and small mistakes are going to cost you against the big teams.”
Meanwhile Worcester Warriors could not follow up their shock opening victory over Northampton Saints with another, as they went down 27-13 at Sale Sharks.
Danny Cipriani, David Seymour and Josh Beaumont all dotted down to hand Sale the advantage, and Johnny Leota dotted down in the final minute to put a cherry on top in the shape of a bonus point.
And on a packed Saturday of Aviva Premiership Rugby action, Exeter Chiefs humbled London Irish at home with England international Jack Nowell touching down twice.
Gareth Steenson marked his 150th league appearance with the game's first try and scores from Don Armand, Luke Cowan-Dickie, James Short to add to Nowell's double marked a welcome return to Sandy Park for the hosts.
Wasps also beat last year’s finalists Bath, with a second-half penalty try proving decisive at the Ricoh Arena for Wasps’ first win of the new Aviva Premiership Rugby season.
Two late penalties from George Ford did salvage a losing bonus point for Bath, who had returned Wales international Rhys Priestland come off the bench in the second half.
And Northampton Saints bounced back from a disappointing start to the season to beat Newcastle Falcons 42-16.
Christian Day's score handed the hosts a 16-9 advantage at half-time, and second-half yellow for Todd Clever then proved costly for the visitors and Day's second try, as well a score from Luther Burrell, put the Saints on the brink of victory.
Two tries for Ben Foden were the icing on the cake for Mallinder, who believes his side are back on track after losing to Worcester last time out.
“We know Ben Foden is a good player,” he said. “He needs games to get back to full fitness.
“He was playing well when he got injured last season. Fingers crossed we can keep him fit. He had an excellent game, even in the first half when we were under the cosh he was doing well.
“We were really disappointed with last week, but we regrouped this week and managed to get a bonus-point win. We are back on track but now we need to back this win up.”
Leicester Tigers 22 Harlequins 19
Penalties: Bell 5
Penalties: Evans 4
Referee: Tom Foley
Northampton Saints 42 Newcastle Falcons 16
Tries: Day 2, Burrell, Foden 2
Conversions: Myler 4
Penalties: Myler 3
Penalties Delany 3
Referee: Dean Richards
Wasps 16 Bath 9
Penalties: Gopperth 3
Penalties: Ford 3
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Exeter Chiefs 38 London Irish 11
Tries: Steenson, Armand, Cowan-Dickie, Short, Nowell 2
Conversions: Steenson 4
Penalties: Noakes 2
Referee: Andrew Small
Gloucester Rugby 15 Saracens 17
Penalties: Twelvetrees 5
Penalties: Hodgson, Farrell 3
Referee: Matthew Carley
Sale Sharks 27 Worcester Warriors 13
Tries: Cipriani, Seymour, Beaumont, Leota
Conversions: Cipriani 2
Penalties: Mills 2
Referee: Luke Pearce
To see all of the 2015-16 Aviva Premiership Rugby season fixtures, please click here #AvivaPrem