Mauger pleased as 'flat' Leicester reach rugby play-offs

3 min

London (AFP)

Leicester head coach Aaron Mauger was a relatively happy man after his side secured a 12th successive appearance in the English Premiership play-offs with a 31-17 win at home to Worcester on Saturday.

The Tigers' bonus-point victory at Welford Road guaranteed them a top-four finish come the end of the regular season and with it a place in the play-offs, where two semi-finals and a Twickenham final will ultimately decide the destiny of the Premiership title.

Saturday's success was just what Leicester needed after last week's European Champions Cup semi-final defeat by Paris-based Racing 92.

It also kept the Midlands city on course for a notable 'double', with Leicester's football team on the brink of being crowned champions of England this season.

"I'm pleased to get to the semis, it's a nice feeling. But the performance was a bit flat," said Mauger, deputy to Leicester's director of rugby, Richard Cockerill.

"It was probably a reflection of the last four weeks, four big, emotional games -- Gloucester, the European quarter-final against Stade Francais, the derby against Northampton, and Racing.

"We could see during the week that the boys were mentally and emotionally flat and that transferred into the performance," the former New Zealand centre added of a victory that still saw Leicester score four tries through Vereniki Goneva, Opeti Fonua, Telusa Veainu and Will Evans.

Leicester, now fourth with 64 points, are away to Bath in their final regular season game and could face Saracens, the current leaders and reigning Premiership champions, on the London club's artificial pitch in the semi-finals.

But Mauger ruled out training on a similar surface, saying: "We did that last time and it didn't work. The key for us is nailing our performance.

"It doesn't really matter, the pitch is 100 metres long, 70 metres wide with goal posts at either end."

Meanwhile Mauger said England centre Manu Tuilagi, who missed the match with a knee injury, was "touch and go" for the Bath match but would be available for the semi-finals

The Tigers coach also confirmed scrum-half Sam Harrison was taken to hospital with a "nasty" nose injury following a sickening clash of heads with Worcester centre Andy Symons at the start of the second half.

Both players left the field with blood-stained faces and, while Symons returned, Harrison was substituted and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

"It was a nasty clash and there was lots of blood coming from his nose and mouth. Looking at the incident, I'd say it's broken.

"He is going to hospital to get assessed so we will see how he is over the next few days. The medics told us it was a nasty one."

Leicester have now won 12 successive Premiership games against Worcester, who have yet to record a victory at Welford Road.

Tries by Symons and Bryce Heem could not end that winless streak on Saturday and Worcester boss Dean Ryan said: "We were always in the contest and we are frustrated we missed three or four chances."

Saturday's other Premiership match saw Northampton edge Bath 15-14.