May in­jury fear for Eng­land as Tigers dig deep to tri­umph

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Gallagher Premiership - By Gavin Mairs RUGBY NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT at Twick­en­ham

Jonny May is a fresh in­jury scare for Eng­land af­ter the Le­ices­ter Tigers wing was forced to with­draw in the first half of his side’s Premier­ship vic­tory over Northamp­ton Saints with a shoul­der in­jury.

May (right), Eng­land’s form player dur­ing the tour of South Africa in June, sus­tained the in­jury in the eighth minute and un­der­went an X-ray af­ter the match, hav­ing watched the re­main­der of the con­test with his right arm in a sling. Le­ices­ter said af­ter­wards the scan had not re­vealed any frac­ture but he will re­quire fur­ther tests.

Eng­land head coach Ed­die Jones, watch­ing from the stands, is due to name his squad for the au­tumn Test se­ries against South Africa, New Zealand, Ja­pan and Aus­tralia on Thurs­day week and given May’s form, will anx­iously await the med­i­cal up­date.

“He got a bang di­rectly on the point of his shoul­der,” said Ge­or­dan Mur­phy, Le­ices­ter’s di­rec­tor of rugby.

“It was a bit sore and he put ice on it straight away. Some­times you can just strap him up and play, some­times they take a few weeks. It is not too se­vere, but it was sore.”

May’s in­jury came on the day Northamp­ton ded­i­cated the match as a fundraiser for their for­mer cen­tre Rob Horne, who suf­fered a ca­reer-end­ing shoul­der in­jury in this fix­ture in April that left his right arm paral­ysed.

It was one of four dur­ing the first half that forced play­ers off the pitch, with Northamp­ton wing Ah­see Tuala also pick­ing up a leg in­jury, while team-mate Cobus Reinach had to leave the field with a blood­ied nose. Le­ices­ter flanker David Den­ton also re­quired a head-in­jury as­sess­ment, which he failed and did not re­turn to the con­test.

Court­ney Lawes, the Eng­land lock, had also pulled out of the match be­fore kick-off with a back spasm.

“He woke up and had a back prob­lem,” said Northamp­ton’s di­rec­tor of rugby, Chris Boyd. “We didn’t think it would be sig­nif­i­cant, but when he came out to run he couldn’t and put it down to the bed he was sleep­ing in. That was a prob­lem for us. We stayed at a place down the road. I think it is a prob­lem when the bed is 5ft 11in and he’s 6ft 11!.”

The re­sult is not likely to have helped Lawes’s mood. Northamp­ton en­joyed the lion’s share of pos­ses­sion but lacked the ruth­less­ness or ac­cu­racy to break down a Le­ices­ter side who showed much greater dogged­ness about their de­fence than in pre­vi­ous out­ings.

With full-back Jonah Holmes rev­el­ling in the open spa­ces, par­tic­u­larly in the first half, it was Le­ices­ter who took con­trol, with tries by Ben Youngs and May’s re­place­ment Jor­dan Olowofela em­bel­lish­ing two penal­ties by Ge­orge Ford. Northamp­ton could only man­age a try by Jamie Gib­son, de­spite en-

joy­ing 70 per cent of pos­ses­sion, and although David Rib­bans was even­tu­ally able to force his way over af­ter a sus­tained pe­riod of pres­sure just be­fore half-time, Le­ices­ter never looked like sur­ren­der­ing their lead. Ford added an­other penalty, in con­trast to a poor kick­ing re­turn for Dan Biggar who missed three conversions, and the sec­ond-half try for Mike Hay­wood just a minute af­ter he had re­placed Eng­land cap­tain Dy­lan Hart­ley was not enough even to se­cure a los­ing bonus point.

The vic­tory moves Le­ices­ter up to fifth place, while Northamp­ton drop to eighth, with Boyd ad­mit­ting his play­ers were dis­ap­pointed they could not win the game for Horne.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing that we couldn’t get the vic­tory that Rob de­served,” Boyd added. “The loss is painful, the fact that it is a lo­cal derby is painful and the fact that we wanted to re­spect Rob and couldn’t get across the line is also painful. It is not a very happy chang­ing room. Rob is a good man and we would have liked to have got the out­come – but the im­por­tant thing for him is that we can help him.”

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