Tigers too strong for Saints
October 31, 2009
Neil Best is swamped by the Leicester defence
© Getty Images
Leicester Tigers bounced back from defeat at London Irish with a resounding 29-15 victory over local rivals Northampton Saints at Welford Road.
Lucas Amorosino and Anthony Allen scored opportunistic tries for the Tigers, who were carried on by a titanic effort from their depleted forward pack. Jeremy Staunton converted both tries and landed five penalties in a 19-point haul.
The Saints scored two tries of their own through Chris Ashton and Christian Day, but with Shane Geraghty, Ben Foden, Courtney Lawes and skipper Dylan Hartley away with England they looked light on options and experience in front of a baying home crowd.
Stephen Myler, who had a mixed game after stepping in for Geraghty, looked to get on the board early with a drop-goal attempt which was ruled out at the second time of asking by the TMO. The contrasting try-scoring fortunes of the two sides was apparent early on as despite the number of changes to their ranks the Saints were willing to use the ball.
Bruce Reihana juggled a clearance before Tigers scrum-half James Grindal handed the ball back to Myler. The Saints fly-half popped the ball out to Ashton, who buried Johne Murphy with a step before firing an inside ball to lock Day, who broke away to score.
A burst from former All Black Aaron Mauger put the Tigers on the front-foot in response and in their desperation to slow their progress the Saints were forced to give away a penalty. Staunton stepped up and slotted the chance.
Myler almost set Ashton free again with a cross-kick, but the wing knocked on after beating the diminutive Amorosino to the ball. Staunton clawed three further points back for the Tigers before Amorosino pounced for a sucker-punch try.
Myler spotted a gap in the home defence but was caught by Ben Kay, the fly-half hurling a speculative pass out of the back of his hand to keep the move going. Allen collected the ball and fed Amorosino, who set off for the line. Despite his ungainly style the Argentina international outstripped all of the cover to score.
As the Saints looked to recover Myler missed a simple penalty to continue their slide and Staunton bagged two more penalties to extend his side's lead. The young Saints tight-five were mercilessly punished by the experienced Tigers at the scrum, with Martin Castrogiovanni and Marcos Ayerza piling the pressure on.
The Saints found a release in the form of Reihana, who beat two covering Tigers to set up a try for Ashton on the stroke of half-time. The winger drew fullback Scott Hamilton infield and used a burst of pace to round the former All Black and score. Myler missed the conversion.
The second-half saw a couple of fiery exchanges, with Brett Deacon undergoing treatment and eventually leaving the field after a questionable challenge by Neil Best. Hamilton pressured Myler in to a mistake as the Tigers kept the heat on, but all they had to show for their territorial advantage was another Staunton penalty after a high challenge by Best on Castrogiovanni.
Roger Wilson provided a rare incursion in to Leicester territory with a powerful surge, the Saints garnering three points of their own from Myler from their first trip to the 22 in the second-half. The Tigers continued to dominate all facets of the forward battle and the introduction of replacement scrum-half Ben Youngs lit up a turgid second period.
His burst drew a penalty for the Tigers to pile on some late pressure but the visitors' lineout was too good and picked off the threat. Replacement Barry Everitt cleared long to the relief of his forwards, but handed victory to the Tigers on a plate immediately after with a long, looping interception to Allen to round off the game.
"I had a couple of injuries before but this was different." Tom Hamilton talks to Scott Williams about the O'Driscoll tackle, Wales and Scarlets
"To be the best it's not about the flash stuff, it's actually about everything done at a very high level." Tom Hamilton on the England squad
Huw Richards rewinds to 1864 to mark the birth of Welsh rugby's first authentic star - Arthur Gould
Michael Cheika has succeeded in becoming the Wallabies coach under his own terms, writes Greg Growden