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Loffreda - Win saved my job
Under-fire Leicester coach grateful to winger's late try
My job would have been in question if we hadn't made Europe.
Quotes of the week
Leicester coach Marcelo Loffreda admitted that Tom Varndell's late try against Harlequins had probably saved his job.
The Tigers came from behind to beat Quins 31-28 on the final day of the Guinness Premiership regular season and clinch the fourth and final play-off spot.
Sale's defeat at home to London Irish opened the door for the Tigers, who now face a semi-final clash with table-toppers Gloucester on May 18.
"My job would have been in question if we hadn't made Europe," said Loffreda.
"It has been a very difficult week with all that has been going on with the rumours and press talk.
"(Chief executive) Peter Wheeler's public support has been very important to me and I told him how much I appreciate it.
"While there was hope, you have to keep hoping and we had to be patient. That's what we told the players at half-time.
"Anything can happen in this league because it is always so tight. Nobody would have bet £1 on us today but we are in the play-offs.
"All week everyone has been doubting what I can do and what I am expected to do. I have been in other situations with a lot of pressure but it was different pressure with the Pumas.
"Because of our attacking aims we sometimes made mistakes and were punished for it. We lost some control in the first half but we got it back in the second half."
Varndell's last-gasp winner capped off a frenetic and entertaining game in which the lead changed hands on numerous occasions and Loffreda was quick to praise his two-try hero.
"Tom Varndell was very good and he has been improving over the last few weeks, not only with the ball but without it too," he added.
Quins director of rugby and former Leicester chief Dean Richards was fuming at the defeat, which thwarted his own side's play-off ambitions.
Richards' men finish the season in sixth and need Bath to beat Worcester in the European Shield final to clinch the last place in the Heineken Cup.
"We would love to play Heineken Cup rugby next season but now we will have to wait for a couple of weeks and see what happens," said Richards.
"It was probably a season too early for us.
"You always try to improve year on year. We have finished sixth this year, who knows where we will finish next year.
"We should have won the game. We got nothing from the referee who was not on top form. He was not consistent but he is a top-class referee.
"Leicester have plenty of stars in multiple positions but they were not as well organised as us. We played some good stuff and had a lot of young lads in there."
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|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle Falcons 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 4th January|
|London Welsh 13 - 24 Harlequins|
|Wasps 41 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Leicester Tigers 17 - 8 Bath|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|Exeter 25 - 26 Gloucester|
|Saracens 22 - 6 London Irish|
|Friday 2nd January|
|Northampton 39 - 31 Newcastle Falcons|
|Sunday 28th December|
|Gloucester 23 - 30 Wasps|
|Saturday 27th December|
|Harlequins 25 - 30 Northampton|
|Newcastle Falcons 23 - 25 Saracens|
|Bath 31 - 14 Exeter|
|Sale Sharks 30 - 32 Leicester Tigers|
|Friday 26th December|
|London Irish 24 - 9 London Welsh|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Wasps 48 - 16 London Irish|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle Falcons|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale Sharks 18 - 11 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com