Daily Express


Ludlam chance to repeat Wood heroics

- By Adam Hathaway

LEWIS LUDLAM was a teenager in the stands when Northampto­n last beat Leicester in a Premiershi­p semi-final but he is aiming to make new memories at Welford Road on Saturday.

Ludlam scored one of 10 Saints tries as they romped into the last four to set up an East Midlands showdown with their nearest and not-so-dearest, and rekindle memories of Tom Wood’s finest hour in a Northampto­n shirt.

Wood announced his retirement last week and Ludlam recalled his fellow flanker’s late try in the 21-20 last-four win over Tigers in 2014 that put Northampto­n on the road to the title.

But Ludlam admits Wood, a veteran of more than 240 Northampto­n games and 50 England caps, is an almost impossible act to follow in

Saints folklore. The 26-yearold said: “I was watching in the stands with my dad and I just remember the place being electric. We want to finish off this season like that.

“It was an unbelievab­le night but we want to make our own memories now.

“You can never fill those boots. Woody has been inspiratio­nal for me, as a 16, 17-year-old watching him.

“He was just hard-nosed, always in the fight and a proper warrior.

“Now it’s Leicester in the semis. These are the games you dream of, you watched when you were younger, seeing Tom scoring in that bottom left-hand corner and Alex Waller lifting the trophy at Twickenham. We want to make our own story now.”

Wood was saluted by the Northampto­n fans on Saturday ahead of the game, which completed Saints’ comeback from nowhere to make the play-offs.

Six league wins out of seven since March proved Saints, under the guidance of departing director of rugby Chris Boyd, have the punch to floor any heavyweigh­t – including table-topping Tigers.

Ludlam added: “It is mad, really. You’ve got people calling for the boss’s head, saying there’s no leadership and no quality in the team.

“What’s positive about this team is that we’ve been tight, we’ve been up against it but we’ve come up with solutions.

“Coaches, staff and players – academy players up to the Tom Woods – they’ve come in with solutions every week and blocked out that noise.

“It is knockout rugby, it has been for us for months now.

“We’re really good under pressure, we enjoy that challenge and enjoy being

the underdogs.”

 ?? ?? A TEEN DRAMA Ludlam touches down to score Northampto­n’s 10th try at Franklin’s Gardens
A TEEN DRAMA Ludlam touches down to score Northampto­n’s 10th try at Franklin’s Gardens

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom