Match ac­tion

The Rugby Paper - - Front Page - By BREN­DAN GAL­LAGHER

NEVER un­der-es­ti­mate the gal­vanis­ing ef­fect of a lo­cal derby.

For the sec­ond time this sea­son Northamp­ton bounced back from an ab­so­lute shel­lack­ing against Sara­cens with a won­der­fully gutsy and com­mit­ted per­for­mance to beat the old enemy Le­ices­ter Tigers and, frankly, it was noth­ing less than they de­served.

Led by a ra­zor sharp back row in which Jamie Gib­son and Teimana Har­ri­son com­peted for MOM hon­ours and backed up in all quar­ters with a sim­i­lar die-hard at­ti­tude, Saints re­fused to buckle and fired enough shots of their own to snatch their first win at Welford Road in 11 years.

De­feat for Tigers doesn’t end their play-off hopes but it’s get­ting very nervy. Real­is­ti­cally they need two wins in their last two games against New­cas­tle and Sale.

A lively, com­pelling first half started un­for­tu­nately for Saints when, straight from the kick-off, Rob Horne, their Aus­tralian skip­per, clat­tered into Gra­ham Kitch­ener with a fierce would-be tackle and man­aged to knock him­self out.

A long de­lay, nearly ten min­utes fol­lowed, as Horne was treated and taken to hos­pi­tal and then it was ini­tially all Le­ices­ter be­fore Saints took the lead against the run of play with an ex­cel­lently taken try by Ben Fo­den af­ter good work by Stephen Myler and Piers Fran­cis.

Much en­cour­aged, Saints stretched their lead with a penalty from Myler be­fore Tigers hit back with a qual­ity score by Telusa Veainu af­ter a storm­ing break and off-load by El­lis Genge, who en­joyed an en­er­getic first half.

Ford con­verted be­fore Tigers took the lead with an op­por­tunist try by Matt Toomua, who touched down af­ter Kitch­ener had charged down a clear­ance kick by Cobus Reinach. There was a just a hint of off­side about Kitch­ener at the ruck but, af­ter con­sult­cleanly ing the TMO, the score was al­lowed.

Reinach, who had prob­a­bly lin­gered too long on that clear­ance kick any­way, dusted him­self off and scored an out­stand­ing try by way of a re­ply for Saints on the half hour.

First Kitch­ener had been spot­ted im­ped­ing a Saints player off the ball which en­abled Myler to drill the penalty deep into Tigers ter­ri­tory for a 5m li­ne­out.

Saints won the ball and, as Reinach handed onto Har­ri­son, it was odds-on the hard run­ning back rower would mount the charge but Har­ri­son called Le­ices­ter’s bluff and passed in­stead in­side to the speedy Reinach who stretched for the line to com­plete a fine score.

Af­ter the break the in­ten­sity re­ally cranked up and it was Saints who gave them­selves valu­able breath­ing space with a nicely taken try by Ah­see Tuala as he brushed off George Ford af­ter sharp work around the break­down by Rein­bach again.

There­after it was a ma­jor backs to the wall ef­fort as Ford chipped away with three penal­ties, but Saints pre­served a six-point cush­ion with an­other Myler penalty. They en­joyed a bit of luck, Tigers blew a two man over­lap in the cor­ner with a poor pass from Toomua, but make no mis­take Saints earnt this win.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Danger­man: Ah­see Tuala breaks through to score in Northamp­ton’s win over Tigers

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Through the gap: Ah­see Tuala hands off George Ford to score for Saints

Op­por­tunist: Matt Toomua dives on the loose ball to score Le­ices­ter’s sec­ond try

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.