Planet Rugby

Saints tame the Tigers

27th February 2010 20:41

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Northampton v Leicester Paul Diggin Scott Hamilton Matt Smith

Leicester come up empty handed at Franklin's Gardens

Northampton made amends for last week's let down against Quins with a determined 19-3 win over Leicester in their Guinness Premiership clash at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.

Fourteen points from the boot of Stephen Myler and a try by skipper Phil Dowson gave Northampton their biggest winning margin over the Tigers in 17 years.

In doing so Saints denied their arch-rivals a losing bonus point and moved to within a single point of the defending champions at the top of the Guinness Premiership table.

Although the visitors piled on the pressure in the opening exchanges, it was the home crowd who were able to raise the first cheer after seven minutes.

Leicester lock Geoff Parling was lucky to escape the sin bin when he took out Paul Diggin, as the winger tried to chase his own kick from inside the Saints half.

With a penalty awarded where the ball landed, fly-half Myler had no problems claiming an easy three points to put his side into an early lead.

A minute later opposite number Jeremy Staunton missed an opportunity to level the scores, sending his penalty attempt wide of the posts.

But the Leicester pivot made no mistake from front of the sticks on the 22 minute mark after swift hands and a surging run by Kiwi full-back Scott Hamilton had taken the Tigers deep into Northampton's 22.

Within four minutes though, Myler had restored Saints' lead, slotting home a similarly routine penalty at the other end to take the score to 6-3.

Leicester were reduced to 14 men on the half hour mark when captain Craig Newby was shown the yellow card for a dangerous tackle.

And Myler duly made it 9-3 before taking his tally to four from four six minutes later to give his side a 12-3 advantage at the break.

Three minutes after the restart Dowson claimed the only try of the match after starting a move that saw Saints threatening the Tigers' line.

Dowson initially broke down the left after selling a magnificent dummy and burst upfield to set his side up deep inside the visitors' 22.

With the ball spread wide to Chris Ashton, the winger looked sure to score but he was bundled out inches short in a desperate rearguard action as he dived for line.

When Saints were awarded a scrum soon after however, it was the number eight who popped up again to peel of the back and barge over for a deserved five points.

Myler maintained his 100 percent record to make it 19-3 but Staunton was not so lucky on 47 minutes and could not find the target with a 45 metre penalty attempt.

Leicester survived a scare on 68 minutes, when a missed Myler penalty wide on the left and a poor clearance by Hamilton resulted in a frantic scramble before they cleared the danger.

As the game entered its final ten minutes Leicester found themselves pegged firmly back inside their own half by a Saints side intent on giving their neighbours no quarter.

The defending champions though, despite facing an ever steepening hill, refused to give up in their attempts to climb it.

But, as the clock ran down and the ascent looked increasingly vertical, it became clear that not even the bonus point would go their way.

The scorers:

For Northampton:
Try: Dowson
Con: Myler
Pens: Myler 4

For Leicester:
Pen: Staunton

Yellow card: Craig Newby, 31 mins (Tigers, spear tackle)

Northampton Saints: 15 Bruce Reihana, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Neil Best, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Brett Sharman, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Regardt Dreyer, 18 Darren Morris, 19 James Cannon, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Alan Dickens, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Chris Mayor.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Alesana Tuilagi, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Jeremy Staunton, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Ben Woods, 6 Craig Newby (c), 5 Ben Kay, 4 Geoff Parling, 3 Julian White, 2 Mefin Davies, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Robbie Harris, 19 Calum Green, 20 Brett Deacon, 21 James Grindal, 22 Sam Vesty, 23 Johne Murphy.

Referee: Sean Davey

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