Leicester Tigers 26-17 Northampton Saints
Mark Farmer | Chief Sports Reporter | 18 November 2023
IN A first half-half littered with handling errors from both teams, it was Springbok Handre Pollard’s right boot that would provide a platform for Tigers to edge out visitors Northampton.
Double World Cup winner Pollard put Tigers ahead after three minutes, following an off-side infringement incurred from George Furbank’s knock on.
An excellent kick to touch from just inside his own 10-metre line shortly after allowed Tigers’ foward pack to drive over from five metres out, however, Charlie’s Clare’s try was disallowed by TMO Hamish Smales for what appeared to be a harsh call against Leicester for obstruction.
Fin Smith – an England fly-half in waiting – levelled proceedings midway through the first-half with a shot at goal from a couple of metres inside the Leicester half.
Pollard restored Tigers’ three-point lead with a penalty as the rain began to sweep across the Mattioli Woods Welford Road pitch, and then extended the advantage to six with another shot at goal in line with the posts from halfway to send the home side into the interval ahead at 9-3.
Leicester’s attacking onslaught from the resumption would see them eventually come away with a try after a number of attacking phases set up replacement loosehead prop Francois van Wyk go over with Saints picking up two yellow cards either side of the score with Sam Matavesi and Ethan Waller punished for multiple penalties.
Northampton’s 13 men hit back immediately as fullback Furbank joined the attacking line and forced his way over for their first try of the game.
Tigers survived a scare a couple of minutes later as Northampton’s outside centre Tommy Freeman dived over the line before referee Karl Dickson spotted the faintest of knock ons from Henry Pollock to bring the game back for a Leicester scrum five metres out.
Captain Hanro Liebengerg would ensure Tigers claimed a second win this season, and their first at home this Premiership campaign, denying Saints any chance of a losing bonus point with a try seven minutes from time following a quick tap penalty.
It was a score that meant Matavesi’s try for the visitor’s with the clock in the red would serve as nothing more than a consolation.
The result sees Leicester climb to eighth in the table, one place above next week’s opponent Gloucester at Kingsholm.
Leicester: Steward, Bassett, Porter, Kata, Hassell-Collins, Pollard, B Youngs; Cronin, Clare, Heyes, Henderson, Chessum, Liebenberg (c), Reffell, Wiese
Replacements: Vanes, van Wyk, Cole, Carter, Rogerson, Whiteley, Shillcock, Scott
Northampton: Furbank, Hendy, Freeman, Dingwall, Ramm, Smith, Mitchell; Waller, Langdon, Davison, Moon, Munga, Coles, Pearson, Ludlam (c)
Replacements: Matavesi, Waller, Millar Mills, Lockett, Pollock, James, Hutchinson, Sleightholme