Director of rugby Richard Cockerill insists that even an under-strength Leicester Tigers side can beat anyone in Aviva Premiership Rugby, after his men downed Bath Rugby 17-8 at Welford Road.
Tom Youngs' first-half try set the Tigers on their way and Owen Williams' four successful penalties proved enough, as they saw off a dogged Bath attack in the second half, which ended with Ross Batty crashing over as the clock ticked into the red.
The result ensured Leicester avenged their 45-0 humbling at the Rec in round three, and Cockerill believes his side are still top of the pile when it comes to the quality of their pack.
“It’s been a tough few weeks physically, we’ve played some big teams,” he said.
“Bath have talked themselves up and talked about being the new Leicester in the forwards, but it takes more than a season and half to take over the mantle of what this club has built up over a long, long time.
“This was a fantastic performance against a good team and we have got some quality still to come back in.
“That side out there is good enough to beat anybody in the league and that’s without five or six world class players still to come back into the team.
“I want guys to be in the middle of those games. I don’t want guys with 20 minutes looking to come off because they think they have done their bit.
“We are disappointed with conceding the try at the end but Bath are a good team, let’s take nothing away from that and I think it says a lot about the character of the players that took the field today.”
Meanwhile Bath head coach Mike Ford was adamant that his side deserved more than the single try, but despite the defeat was satisfied with how his players tried to play.
He said: “When we did have the football I thought we played some good rugby.
“Conceding the try in the first half was disappointing because we soaked up a lot of pressure and came away and played some good rugby.
“But the boys played right to the death. I’m proud that we stuck at it and sometimes they just don’t go your way but we will lick our wounds and look to get better tomorrow.
“I think the conditions suited them, being sticky, a bit dark and misty. But we have to deal with those situations.
“We know that rugby can be played in one or two ways maybe three or four ways and they picked a certain way today and it worked for them.”
Leicester Tigers: Tait, Thompstone, Goneva, Allen (Baikeinuku 65), Benjamin, Williams (Burns
73), B Youngs (Harrison 70), Ayerza (Rizzo 30, 71), T Youngs (Ghiraldini 62), Balmain (Pasquali 76), Kitchener (De Chaves 74), Parling, Gibson, Salvi, Crane (Barbieri 63).
Bath Rugby: Watson, Agulla (Rokoduguni 61), Burgess, Eastmond (Devoto 10), Banahan, Ford, Cook (Young 49), James (Auterac 51), Webber (Batty 51), Wilson (Thomas 51), Hooper, Attwood (Day 62), Garvey, Louw, Fearns (Houston 51).
Tries: T Youngs
Penalties: Williams 4
Referee: Matthew Carley
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