Cock­er­ill hails ‘best per­for­mance yet’

The Herald on Sunday - - RUGBY -

RICHARD Cock­er­ill al­lowed him­self a few smiles last night hav­ing seen his side thump Toulon, a team pre­vi­ously coached by the for­mer Eng­land hooker.

Some might spec­u­late the Ed­in­burgh coach’s grin could have been in­duced by the sweet taste of re­venge.

It is more likely be­cause a pro­fes­sional job done on the three­time Euro­pean Cup win­ners has left Ed­in­burgh a win away from the last eight of the Heineken Cham­pi­ons Cup.

Ed­in­burgh, group lead­ers on 19 points, could – de­pend­ing on var­i­ous per­mu­ta­tions – still reach the quar­ter-fi­nals with that tally. Cock­er­ill, how­ever, wants his side to com­plete the job on Fri­day at Mur­ray­field against Mont­pel­lier.

“We haven’t qual­i­fied yet. I want to win next week. I want to try to have a home quar­ter-fi­nal,” said Cock­er­ill af­ter an em­phatic win.

“We’ll en­joy the feel­ing of sat­is­fac­tion of win­ning here, but we’ve still got a lot to do. We’ve just got to keep im­prov­ing.”

Cock­er­ill ex­uded con­fi­dence ahead of this game, pos­i­tive his side could gain a re­sult.

But few, if any, saw it be­ing as dom­i­nant as it turned out. And, to that end, Cock­er­ill was quick to heap praise on his team, es­pe­cially their dis­play af­ter the in­ter­val.

“Credit to the play­ers. We came with a plan. We knew we had to stick to the plan.

“We in­vited them [Toulon] into our half a lit­tle bit in that first half and they pun­ished us, but the way we played and con­trolled the game in that se­cond half was prob­a­bly as best we’ve played,” said Cock­er­ill, whose half-time mes­sage was mea­sured and sim­ple.

“We just said don’t give silly penal­ties away, con­trol the ball.

“We knew if we put them un­der pres­sure we would have op­por­tu­ni­ties. And, to be fair to the lads, they took them.

“I thought we con­trolled the se­cond half from start to fin­ish and credit to the play­ers. They should take a huge amount of pride around what they’ve done to­day.

“It puts us in a great po­si­tion to qual­ify. Peo­ple trav­elled to watch us. We’ve got a crowd chant­ing our name, and it’s a club that’s grow­ing slowly.”

If Ed­in­burgh played like a team then the same can’t be said for Toulon, who were, at best, a dis­jointed col­lec­tion of star names.

Welsh scrum-half Rhys Webb of­fered few ex­cuses.

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