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Page last updated at 21:46 GMT, Saturday, 29 May 2010 22:46 UK

Richard Cockerill hails last-gasp hero Danny Hipkiss

Dan Hipkiss (centre)
Hipkiss breaks through Sarries' defence to score the winning try

Leicester coach Richard Cockerill hailed match-winner Dan Hipkiss after the centre came off the bench to win his side the Premiership title.

With just four minutes left, a Glen Jackson penalty gave Saracens the lead.

However, Scott Hamilton collected from the restart before offloading to centre Hipkiss who burst through the Sarries defence to seal a 33-27 victory.

"An injured Danny is pretty ordinary but when he is fit and raring to go he is a very good player," said Cockerill.

Hipkiss's gung-ho winning try, which was converted by Toby Flood, was an apt finale to what had been a thoroughly absorbing and free-flowing encounter.

Although both the Tigers' Toby Flood and Sarries' Glen Jackson played their part with 18 and 17 points respectively off their boots, this final will be remembered more for its ambitious, expansive running rugby that had 82,000 fans at Twickenham enthralled.

"Both teams had the right attitude - tries were scored, mistakes were made but it was played in the right spirit," Cockerill told BBC Radio 5 live.

Leicester led 20-14 at the break with centre Matt Smith and Ben Youngs touching down either side of a stunning Sarries try from Ernst Joubert.


Joubert finished off another superb move to make it 23-21 to Tigers before the sides exchanged penalties.

But when Jackson kicked Sarries in front by a point it seemed as if they had done enough to deny Leicester their second successive Premiership title.

Their inability to collect Flood's kick-off, however, proved crucial as Hamilton fed Hipkiss who rode a high tackle before delivering the killer blow.

"I wondered how we would win the ball back," admitted Cockerill.

"But Floody kicked it in the right spot, Scott Hamilton caught it, Danny finished off and we won the game."

Hipkiss, whose season has been blighted by an ankle injury, was grateful for the brief hesitation in the Sarries' rearguard after the referee had played the advantage instead of blowing for the penalty when he was hit high.

"I think everyone thought they were going to stop because they thought three points is enough, we'll take it," said Hipkiss.

"But I just managed to keep on going and thank God everyone else stopped."

But although his side's victory had hinged on one inspirational moment late on, Cockerill claimed the platform for victory was laid earlier in the game by his forwards, and, indeed, prior to the match on the training pitch.

"We're boring and we train every day," said the 39-year-old former England international hooker. "We work hard on the training field.

"You don't win kick-offs at the end and you don't steal line-outs at the end by luck - it's from hard work.

"[Geoff] Parling and those guys in the line-out won us the game and the scrum won us the game really with the points they got for us."

Assistant Sarries coach Mark McCall, in charge in the absence of Brendan Venter who missed the game through suspension for his "inappropriate gestures" at Leicester earlier in the month, admitted defeat was hard to stomach.

"It was a great bit of play by Leicester to catch that restart but it's nevertheless gutting to have lost in that manner," he said.

However, he dismissed suggestions that his team's cause was damaged by Venter's absence.

"The big decisions in the game are always going to be made on the pitch by the players - we trust them implicitly, Brendan has done all year," McCall added.

"We were winning with four minutes to go so I don't think that's the case. Having said that, we were gutted that Brendan wasn't here."

Flanker Lewis Moody, who leaves Welford Road for Bath this summer, was delighted to bid Leicester farewell on a winning note.

"Leicester has been a huge part of my life and it's days like today, games that are tough and when you are hanging on, that give me a real pride in this team and this game," said the 31-year-old, who will captain England in their summer tour of Australia.

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see also
Twickenham epic is greatest final
30 May 10 |  English
Leicester 33-27 Saracens
29 May 10 |  English
Premiership final as it happened
29 May 10 |  Rugby Union
Premiership final photos
29 May 10 |  Rugby Union
Tigers coach receives RFU warning
27 May 10 |  Leicester
Venter final ban appeal rejected
26 May 10 |  Saracens
Newby cleared to appear in final
25 May 10 |  Leicester
Hooker Brits wins players' award
26 May 10 |  English
Borthwick back for Saracens final
25 May 10 |  Saracens

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