Inside the Tigers’ Den - Leicester suffer worst loss in a decade

Bath beat Leicester Tigers by a record 45-0. PA Images EMN-140922-123027001
Bath beat Leicester Tigers by a record 45-0. PA Images EMN-140922-123027001
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Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill said his side were so bad on Saturday they could have come third in the two team contest.

It was a day of unenviable records for Leicester on Saturday as they suffered their record loss to Bath and just their second zero point game since the creation of the Aviva Premiership.

A brilliant and brutal Bath blew an injury savaged Leicester side off the park at The Rec, winning by an almost unbelievable 45-0.

It was always going to be a tough task to come away from rising stars Bath with a win but few could imagine quite the utter demolition it proved to be.

Cockerill said: ”Credit to Bath. It was pretty average from us, at best, and we got exactly what we deserved. If you have got the quality we’ve got missing, some day it is going to hurt you, and today it hurt us. That’s not an excuse, we should play better and I am bitterly disappointed.

“We couldn’t cope with the set-piece, and if you get no set-piece parity you are always going to struggle.

“It is my responsibility, my fault. I pick the team, I coach the team. The loss today is down to me, and we will deal with it on Monday.”

Leicester are not a team to make excuses, they were thoroughly outplayed for 80 minutes on Saturday and their famous scrum crippled under the pressure but they are a side decimated by injuries once again. Before kick off at the weekend England international centres Manu Tuilagi and Anthony Allen were pulled out of the squad after not recovering from niggling injuries forcing Cockerill to name three scrum halves in his squad just to make up the numbers.

In fact Tigers have an entire team of missing players: 15 All Black Scott Hamilton, 14 Argentina international Gonzalo Camancho, 13 British and Irish Lion Manu Tuilagi, 12 England international Anthony Allen, 11 England Saxon Adam Thompstone,10 Fijian international Seremaia Bai, 9 David Mele (red card), 1 Argentina international Marco Ayzera, 2 Harry Thacker, 3 British Lion Dan Cole, 4 England international Louis Deacon, 5 All Black Brad Thorn, 6 England Saxon and club captain Ed Slater, 7 Argentina international Pablo Matera and 8 Japan international Christian Loamanu.

That leaves a bench of injured or unavailable players of: Italian international prop Michele Rizzo, England Saxon due Jamie Gibson, flanker, and winger Miles Benjamin as well as USA international winger Blaine Scully, lock Tom Price and number eight Lawrence Pearce.

Centre Terrence Hepetema and prop Riccardo Bruguna are also understood to be injured.

After the Bath game Irish Wolfhound Niall Morris and British Lions Tom Youngs and Geoff Parling may be added to that list after leaving the field hurt,

Cockerill added: “Bath were very good. They played very well, and we couldn’t cope with the physicality with the side we had available. We played poorly and we got exactly what was coming to us. Once you lose the physical battle in a game of rugby you are always going to struggle.

“We got beaten at every contact, every scrum, every lineout, every bit of skill. It hurts every time you play as poorly as that. We got our backsides smacked, and that’s how it is. It’s one game out of 22. The performance today was far from ideal, but I can assure you it will be different next week.”

To add injury to insult Baths’ outstanding afternoon was orchestrated by former Tiger George Ford. The former IRB Young Player of the Year left Leicester in the summer of 2013 in search of guaranteed first team rugby after struggling to get playing time in front of Toby Flood. His time at Leicester was not unsuccessful, playing a pivotal role in winning the Aviva Premiership grand final in 2013 and the LV= Cup the year before. Now at just 21 he has matured into a world beater and his man of the match 20 point performance on Saturday was probably enough to earn him the England number 10 shirt.

With Leicester’s winning streak well and truly ended Cockerill will hope some of his walking wounded are back for London Irish at Welford Road on Saturday. Irish come into the tie having narrowly lost against Saracens at the weekend with Tigers old boy Alex Lewington crossing for a hat-trick of tries.

Leicester are not used to being second best and they will certainly not stand for it two weeks in a row.

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Michele Rizzo was a French international when in fact he is Italian. He has 15 caps for the Azzurri.