Richard Cockerill, the Leicester head coach, expressed his bemusement after seeing wing Alesana Tuilagi sent off during his team's 30-25 Aviva Premiership home win over Northampton on Saturday. Chris Ashton tackled Tuilagi into touch by his hair, stoking a touchline brawl which saw both Tuilagi and Saints' England flanker Tom Wood sent off.
"He [Tuilagi] could miss Europe next week [this Sunday's Heineken Cup Pool Four game at Clermont Auvergne], which is massive for us. Alesana hasn't thrown a punch, so what's he been sent off for?" Cockerill said.
"It's disappointing because I think the game was spoilt from that point. I've not seen all the angles but a yellow card for whoever they wanted to blame is enough there."
Toby Flood helped Leicester prevail, converting two of their four tries and kicking two penalties. The win for the hosts extends their unbeaten run to seven matches in all competitions.
The Bath coach, Brad Davis, meanwhile, admitted that it will be difficult to lift his side ahead of their Heineken Cup game against champions Leinster on Sunday after a disappointing 16-13 defeat to Sale.
"We've got to look hard at ourselves because the performances at the moment aren't of a standard that's expected at Bath Rugby," said Davis. Bath led 10-0 but when Sale seized the initiative in the second half with Mark Cueto's try, the hosts failed to rally until it was too late.
Davis added: "It was as if we sent out two different teams – the one that started in the first half and the one that came out for the second 40. When we had a chance to win it, guys came up with some really poor decisions. This game is definitely going to hurt us for a few days but we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We've got to crack on and prepare as best we can for Leinster."
Rob Baxter, the Exeter coach, is determined to hold down third place in the Premiership table at Christmas after seeing his team defeat Worcester 15-9 at Sandy Park. Baxter said: "It [Exeter's third-placed league standing] is a reward for the hard work that the guys have put in. We have been competitive in every game. We have a good chance of staying third at Christmas, which is fantastic." Fly-half Ignacio Mieres scored all of Exeter's points, kicking five penalties.
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