Lavish praise for fierce Tigers
Leicester Tigers Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill lavished praise on his team after they booked a ninth straight Premiership Final.
Leicester Tigers Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill lavished praise on his team after they booked a ninth straight Premiership Final appearance at the expense of Harlequins.
A try just before half-time from Niki Goneva proved crucial, handing the Tigers a 13-9 lead at the break before scores after half-time from Niall Morris, Tom Croft and Mathew Tait sealed a thumping 33-16 win.
Croft was outstanding throughout, denying Danny Care a certain try in the first half before galloping all of 50 metres to score the try which effectively ended Quins' hopes of defending their title.
Croft, who this season returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a broken neck, will be joined on the British & Irish Lions tour by fellow Tigers Tom and Ben Youngs, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling and Manu Tuilagi.
And Cockerill was quick to laud the commitment of all six in securing the Tigers a place at Twickenham on May 25.
"We know how good Crofty can be," said Cockerill.
"We have been very patient with him, and he's been very patient with us. Our loyalty to those guys who get injured is always the same.
"But the commitment from those six Lions, you wouldn't think they were saving themselves, would you?
"I am delighted with the performance. The try before half-time was crucial for us and I thought across the board the players were outstanding.
"So much work goes into the season across the board, from top to bottom, and to get to a final - which we have got to win - is great for the club."
Quins, determined not to relinquish their crown without a fight, began brightly but could not make their possession and territory count and while Nick Evans kicked them into a 9-6 lead, Goneva's try came as a sucker punch.
Care was then sent to the sin bin after a deliberate knock-on and the Tigers were rampant, scoring quick tries through Morris, Croft and the outstanding Tait before Ross Chisholm grabbed a consolation effort late on.
And while he was quick to pay tribute to the Tigers, Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea insists he was full of pride with his side's performance.
"I thought we were good, but Leicester were very good so all credit to them but I'm extremely proud of how we've defended our title," he said.
"With the LV= Cup, we've won our third trophy in as many seasons and all we can do is give ourselves the opportunity and we did that.
"We came here to try and play rugby and take the game to them and we did that but we couldn't take our chances when we were winning the battle of the collision and that try at the end of the first half was crucial.
"In the second half Leicester were absolutely outstanding, but I will have nothing but admiration and pride for the way we came up here and tried to play."