Inside the Tigers’ Den - Leicester’s loss at Scarlets could prove ‘terminal’

Leicester Tigers in action against Harlequins. Photo: Tigers Images EMN-141016-124107001
Leicester Tigers in action against Harlequins. Photo: Tigers Images EMN-141016-124107001

At the top end of the club game and at international level rugby you have to be accurate in everything you do.

The All Blacks are the best team in the world, and possibly the greatest rugby team of all time - I know that is saying something but the statics back it up - because when they get a chance they take it 99 percent of the time.

It’s how they score so many last minute tries to win games like they did against Australia recently and Ireland before that.

On Saturday night Leicester were not accurate when it mattered and lost 15-3 away at the Scarlets in the new European Champions Cup - in a result director of rugby Richard Cockerill said could be “terminal” for his club’s hopes of getting out of Pool Three.

Ever since the loss social media has been flooded by a lot of doom and gloom from Tigers fans which is understandable because Leicester are a club not used to losing.

The reality is Leicester are now very unlikely to qualify from their group.

Toulon have not looked invincible by any means this season but they also look better than everyone else in the pool.

Leicester will have the two times defending champions in back-to-back games in December, a loss in their home game would almost certainly end any hopes of progression in the competition.

But the good news is Tigers were well and truly in the match at Scarlets and really gifted victory to the Welsh side.

Leicester’s first piece of game-costing inaccuracy came in the eighth minute of the game. Anthony Allen, back in the side for the first time this season after suffering with a long-term knee injury, dropped the ball practically over the line after Tigers had opened up the Scarlets defence with their best offensive series of the entire season.

With Scarlets players dropping like flies that wasted try should have been the start of an avalanche of points but it was not to be.

Instead Scarlets should have been much further ahead before they did get their break-through.

Wales fly-half contender Rhys Priestland missed four of his kicks at goal on a real off night with the boot which will not have done his international chances any favours.

It was a let of for Leicester but one they did not take advantage of. When the Welsh side’s try game it was an absolute gift from Tigers.

Leicester winger Miles Benjamin made as bad an error as you will ever see at this standard of rugby. The England Saxon gathered a deep kick and looked to adventurously run the ball from inside his own 22. However he fumbled the ball when attempting a dummy and Harry Robinson scooped the it up to score one of the easiest European tries he will ever get - or anyone for that matter.

Despite that Leicester were still in the game an hour into the match, with the scores at just 8-3. But Leicester were hampering any chances they had of getting back into the game with some bad basic errors. And on 61 minutes it was one error too many.

Ben Youngs had his pass knocked up and re-gathered by Aled Davis and with every Leicester player committed the scrum half had 40 metres of open turf in front of him to race home for a bonus point denying try.

After the match Leicester’s angry director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “It was important we got something out of tonight and we didn’t which could be terminal for us in this group with a double header against Toulon up next.

“You cannot make that many errors in an important game and keep giving the opposition energy to play.

“We kept knocking-on, we didn’t control position and we put pressure on ourselves by making mistakes. It wasn’t one thing that cost us, it was all the errors together.”

Leicester have got a welcome couple of weeks off from the high profile European Champions Cup and Aviva Premiership action to find some form. They will play London Irish and Sale in the LV= Cup either side of a historic visit from the Barbarians on Tuesday, November 4.