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Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill defends sent-off players


Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill described the controversial 17-12 win over Bath as "like a game from the 1980s".

The visitors' flanker Francois Louw and centre Matt Banahan were both sent off for foul play, while back-rower Simon Taylor and fly-half Stephen Donald were sin-binned as Tigers fought back from a 5-0 half-time deficit to leap back into the top four.

Leicester's Brett Deacon was also dismissed as he punched Banahan in the melee that followed his tackle, which knocked Anthony Allen out cold.

Bath were down to 12 men at one stage and the league's disciplinary process is likely to be in overdrive this week.

Cockerill, though, largely defended Bath's players after the game by saying that most of the decisions were harsh on Gary Gold's team.

"It was like a game from the 1980s wasn't it?" he said.

"Banahan is a big man and not a dirty player. He hits Ant with momentum and with his arm out, he knocks him out and that makes it look a lot worse than it was.

"Brett Deacon then retaliates, throws a punch and he's off.

"If Francois Louw has dropped an elbow on someone, is it a red card? Probably not. It might be a warning and yellow at worst – but that is the world we live in.

"You go back to the mid-90s when this (Leicester) side was very aggressive, we would only have three blokes a side on the pitch these days!

"The laws are a bit mad but that is the game. I don't necessarily agree with the way it is refereed but you have to get on with it."

Aside from the controversy, which left the home crowd incandescent with rage at times, Tigers dominated play for the vast majority of the game after going 5-0 down to an early try.

But their failure to make the most of their dominance allowed Tom Biggs' 57th-minute score to put Bath 12-6 ahead on the hour.

But Adam Thompstone's try bought Tigers back to within a point and George Ford's two penalties settled the score.

"I thought we played some decent stuff in the first half," said Cockerill. "Fordy had a blip with is goal-kicking and then didn't want to go to goal after that and we kicked to the corners which led to nothing.

"George bounced back and kicked some important goals in the second half to win the game.

" I don't think they were over-physical. It was just a really hard game.

There was concern for Allen, who was stretchered off. Cockerill said he was "okay but a bit dazed" and the 26-year-old walked through the press room after the game and pronounced that he was "still alive".

He was under observation over the weekend and his fitness will be assessed this week.

Leicester Tigers  director of rugby Richard Cockerill defends sent-off players

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