Saints clinch Midlands derby

07th Feb 2010, 14:32

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Paul Diggin celebrates his try with his team-mates

Paul Diggin celebrates his try with his team-mates

Northampton Saints all but ended Leicester's interest in the LV= Cup on Saturday with a 23-11 win and gave themselves a home semi-final.

Northampton Saints all but ended Leicester's interest in the LV= Cup on Saturday with a 23-11 win and gave themselves a home semi-final.

Leicester's defeat probably extinguished their hopes of progressing in the tournament as they will need Saracens to lose at home to Newport-Gwent Dragons to stand any chance.

The game was entertaining with Northampton just about deserving their win due to their more clinical finishing.

Leicester were always playing catch-up following the home side's early score and the visitors gave away penalties at crucial stages.

Northampton got off to a blistering start opening the scoring within two minutes.

The Saints won a lineout 22 metres out from the Leicester line and the pre-planned move saw Stephen Myler pass inside to Paul Diggin.

The wing tore through the bemused visitors' defence to score near the posts for Myler to kick the simple conversion.

Leicester overcame that reverse to dominate the next period of the match. For the next 10 minutes they remained in the Saints' half but frequent turnovers stopped them from threatening the home line.

However Northampton were unable to clear their lines due to poor lineout work and some indifferent kicking from scrum-half, Alan Dickens.

The visitors eventually gained their reward when Billy Twelvetrees kicked a 45-metre penalty after seventeen minutes to reduce Northampton's lead.

Four minutes later Northampton were back in control when they scored another splendid try.

From a scrum 40 metres out Chris Ashton ran a delightful angle and his quick distribution broke the Leicester defence, with the excellent move culminating in Dickens's first try for his club, Myler converted with an great kick from the touchline.

The excitement was non-stop and back came Leicester with a quality try of their own.

A Myler up and under was fielded by Lucas Amorosino in his own 22 and the full-back then ran more than 60 metres, passing a number of Saints' defenders to provide Twelvetrees with the scoring pass. Sam Vesty missed the conversion.

Leicester should have scored again just before the interval but Alesana Tuilagi failed to pick up the loose ball close to the Saints' line which meant the visitors undeservedly trailed 14-8 at half time.

Northampton began the second half strongly and extended their lead when Myler kicked a 30-metre penalty after forty four minutes.

Almost immediately Twelvetrees had the chance to nullify this score but his kick from near half way fell narrowly short.

The home side continued to dominate the half and when Leicester were penalised for pulling down a maul Myler struck again with another penalty to put Saints 20-8 ahead after 52 minutes.

Eventually Leicester gained the first period of pressure of the second half thanks to some more elusive running from Amorosino.

Unfortunately the Argentinian full-back was injured after one such run and had to be carried from the field with a leg injury.

The visitors then reduced the arrears with a Twelvetrees penalty after 61 minutes and had more of the play thereafter - but could find no way through the resolute home defence.

Northampton sealed the victory when replacement Barry Everitt scored an easy penalty with the last kick of the match.

The scorers:

For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Diggin, Dickens
Con: Myler
Pens: Myler 2, Everitt

For Leicester:
Try: Twelvetrees
Pens: Twelvetrees 2

Northampton: 15 Bruce Reihana , 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joe Ansbro, 12 Chris Mayor, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Alan Dickens, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Neil Best, 6 Mark Easter, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe (capt), 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Brett Sharman, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Adam Parkins, 18 Alex Waller, 19 James Cannon, 20 Owen Giles, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Barry Everitt, 23 James Downey.

Leicester: 15 Lucas Amorosino, 14 Alesana Tuilagi, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Aaron Mauger (c), 11 Matt Smith, 10 Sam Vesty, 9 Harry Ellis, 8 Brett Deacon, 7 Ben Woods, 6 Ben Pienaar, 5 Ben Kay, 4 Dan Hemingway , 3 Julian White, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Boris Stankovich.
Replacements: 16 Joe Duffey, 17 Robbie Harris, 18 Ryan Bower, 19 Rob Conquest, 20 Matt Everard, 21 James Grindal, 22 Jeremy Staunton, 23 Geordan Murphy.

Referee: Dave Pearson