Cockerill hails ‘best performance yet’
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.