Ruddock defends his resilient Worcester

Leicester 19 Worcester 14
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The Independent Online

Perhaps Richard Cockerill was just warming up for his rematch with the Ospreys coach, Sean Holley, next Sunday, but the Leicester man seemed keen to take a pot-shot at another Welshman on Saturday.

Cockerill accused Mike Ruddock's Warriors of turning up with "negative tactics" and of "trying to spoil us".

Ruddock would doubtless reply with a resounding, "And..." As he continues to build Worcester and focuses on avoiding another relegation fight, a bonus point at Leicester represents an achievement. However it is earned. Yet Ruddock did concede there could have been a far more famous return. "There were injuries for Leicester and it was a day we could have got a result," he said, reflecting on the fact that Tom Wood's try nosed them ahead with 20 minutes remaining. "It shows how far we have come that we are disappointed we didn't."

They were not too "disappointed" to unashamedly play for the bonus point in the final minutes, running down the clock rather than going all out for their first win at Welford Road. But then they must have been close to exhaustion. Their defensive effort in limiting Leicester to a Lewis Moody try was huge, even though not all of it was legal – as Cockerill pointed out.

"I found it frustrating that the team who were relatively negative didn't get warned or given yellow cards," said the Tigers head coach, pointing his finger at the referee, Chris White. "They gave away 15 penalties, the majority of them in their own half. How many times do they have to infringe before they are warned?" If Cockerill sounds vexed he probably is. His injury list is an X-rated read and there is a marked lack of thrust in the backline. Dan Hipkiss, the centre, is the exception. In their Heineken Cup opener on Sunday, they may not be able to count on Jeremy Staunton's boot, as they once again did here.

Last season, after the Ospreys had beaten the Tigers at the Liberty Stadium, Cockerill and Holley exchanged strong words in the tunnel. Another rumble awaits.

Leicester: Try: Moody; Pens: Staunton (3); Drop: Staunton. Con: Staunton. Worcester: Try: Wood. Pens: Walker (3).

Leicester: S Hamilton; M Smith (L Amorosino 43), D Hipkiss, A Allen, J Murphy; J Staunton, J Grindal (B Youngs 55); B Stankovich (M Ayerza 53), J Duffey (M Davies 57-78), M Castrogiovanni (J White 53), L Deacon (capt), B Kay (G Parling 64), T Croft, L Moody, J Crane (C Newby 63)

Worcester: C Latham; R Gear, A Grove (D Rasmussen 71), S Tuitupou, M Benjamin; W Walker, R Powell (J Arr 74); A Black (M Mullan 49), C Fortey (A Lutui 49), T Taumoepeau, G Rawlinson, C Gillies (G Kitchener 49), T Wood, P Sanderson (capt), N Talei.

Referee: C White (Cheltenham)

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