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16-point Handre Pollard puts the derby boot into Northampton

By PA
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Leicester will hope to have kick-started their season with a hard-fought 26-17 derby win over Northampton. Handre Pollard slotted over 16 points as the South Africa World Cup-winning fly-half put the boot into his side’s local rivals at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

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The Tigers had won just one of their opening five Gallagher Premiership matches going into the contest, but they brought huge intensity to end Northampton’s three-match winning streak.

Second-half tries from Francois van Wyk and Hanro Liebenberg added to Leicester’s 9-3 half-time lead as the Saints proved to be sinners, conceding a huge amount of penalties and being hit by yellow cards for Sam Matavesi and Ethan Waller, reducing them to 13 men after the break.

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The away side were also left to rue a potentially costly refereeing decision as, at 19-10 down, Karl Dickson blew his whistle for what he felt was a knock-on from Henry Pollock before Tommy Freeman touched down. Replays appeared to show that the try could have stood but Leicester escaped and pushed on to make sure of a precious win.

The Tigers had set a ferocious tone early on and after George Furbank spilled a high ball, Northampton were caught offside, allowing Pollard to put the home side ahead with the resulting penalty.

Leicester were cranking up the heat as the minutes went by, but they saw a Charlie Clare score rightly chalked off for obstruction from Solomone Kata on Fraser Dingwall following a maul.

Fin Smith levelled the scores for the Saints with a superb long-range penalty, but the Tigers were quickly back in front after Pollard notched a penalty earned at the scrum. Pollard soon added another three points, this time from just inside his own half, after Leicester again won the breakdown battle.

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The home side’s intensity was hugely evident and they were getting a stranglehold at the scrum, winning three successive penalties. Pollard hit the post with another penalty before Northampton saw a chance narrowly slip through their grasp after James Ramm had chased Smith’s kick ahead.

It was a tough chance at the end of a tough half for the away side, and the difficulties only continued after the interval as Tommy Reffell’s breakdown ability wreaked havoc.

There was no relief for Northampton, and Pollard picked up another three points when the Tigers extracted another penalty. Saints sent on Pollock for his Premiership debut in place of Tom Pearson, but the 18-year-old and his teammates had a huge task on their hands.

After Northampton’s replacement hooker Matavesi was sin-binned for side entry, the Tigers turned the screw, scoring through van Wyk. Waller was also sin-binned for Northampton’s continual scrum struggles, but the Saints roared back with 13 men, scoring through Furbank.

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Furbank converted and Northampton thought a big comeback was on when Freeman went over soon after, but referee Dickson had blown his whistle for what he felt was a knock-on before Freeman dotted down, and there was no try, leaving the away side bemused.

Liebenberg’s try from a quick tap penalty made sure of the win for Leicester before Matavesi finished off a flowing move from the final play of the game for the Saints.

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Comments

1 Comment
B
Brunhildes 212 days ago

It’s mad how quickly people wrote off the Tigers this year. A team that finished 1st and 3rd in the last two seasons were always going to start clicking once the World Cup players were back. Now, only 6 points of the Saints in 4th. Write off this Leicester team at your peril.

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