May injury fear for England as Tigers dig deep to triumph
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.”