Tigers coach Cockerill shrugs off play-off defeat to Saints

TAKING DEFEAT ON THE CHIN - Leicester coach Richard Cockerill (Picture: James Phillips)

TAKING DEFEAT ON THE CHIN - Leicester coach Richard Cockerill (Picture: James Phillips)

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Leicester boss Richard Cockerill reminded Saints of his side’s superior record in east midlands derbies after Friday night’s humdinger at Franklin’s Gardens.

Cockerill saw his side fall to a 21-20 Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final defeat, with Tom Wood’s late try helping 14-man Saints beat their rivals for the first time in 11 matches.

Wood’s score raised the roof at Franklin’s Gardens, propelling his team into the May 31 Twickenham showpiece.

It completed a remarkable comeback from Saints, who had been 17-6 down at half-time, following tries from Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs.

And while ruing his side’s inability to see the job through, Cockerill was keen to restate his side’s dominance in recent derby matches.

“We have a great rivalry,” he said. “They’re a good club, we’re a great club. We’ve played 11, they’ve won one, drawn one and lost nine.

“Fair play to them, maybe it is their year.

“It hurts because it’s Saints, it hurts because it’s a semi-final, but we’ve had a really tough year.

“We fell a bit short and we should have controlled it. One another day we would.

“Next year, if we can get everyone fit and get a few bodies in we’ll come back and redouble our efforts.

“Sarries lost two semis last year and they’ve regrouped pretty well.

“There are players in our squad who have been to grand finals and not known what it’s like not to get to one. This is what it feels like.

“Saints are celebrating like they’ve won the thing and, fair play to them, that’s how important beating Leicester is.

“We’ll take it on the chin. If you can win and take the plaudits, you can lose and know that sometimes you get beat.

“That’s the way it is and that’s life.”