Nemani Nadolo brace inspires Leicester to win over Northampton
Nadolo repeated his feat from the Tigers’ 55-26 victory in the reverse fixture, while fly-half Freddie Burns orchestrated the hosts superbly from fly-half and ended with a personal haul of 15 points.
It sent out another marker for Leicester’s fellow challengers at the top, while at the same time severely denting Saints’ play-off hopes, with the visitors’ discipline deserting them too often.
It was Northampton who scored the game’s opening try after six minutes, however, when scrum-half Alex Mitchell reacted first to Paul Hill’s off-load going to ground and stepped Bryce Hegarty to go clear.
Saints’ bright start was soon snuffed out, as Jasper Wiese rumbled Leicester to within a few metres of the line before Richard Wigglesworth’s sharp pass sent Nadolo under the posts.
Burns converted to put the Tigers ahead and he soon extended their lead to 10-5 with a penalty after Ahsee Tuala was pinged for holding on.
It was now all Leicester and Nadolo was in for his second try after 22 minutes when good hands by captain Hanro Liebenberg and Burns allowed the giant Fijian winger to barrel over from close range.
Burns went off for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) soon after converting that score, leading to Chris Ashton making his Tigers debut, with replacement kicker Hegarty then pushing a penalty wide.
The hosts celebrated their third try when Julian Montoya went over off a driving maul, but this was soon cancelled out when Rory Hutchinson made a superb break down the right before passing inside to put Courtnall Skosan in the clear.
A superb tackle by Ashton then forced George Furbank into touch just as the fly-half looked like pulling another try back before Leicester lost Harry Wells to the sin bin just before half-time for a dangerous tackle on Ollie Sleightholme.
Burns had returned to the field by then and he kicked the Tigers into a 25-10 lead just after the break with his second penalty, although Furbank soon cancelled this out with his first successful kick.
Leicester’s fourth try was in the bag on the hour mark when Burns moved the ball right to Hegarty, who stepped past Skosan before stretching his arm over the line to score and effectively finish the contest.
Burns twisted the knife further with another penalty before Northampton pulled a try back with nine minutes left when Karl Wilkins barged his way over from close range.
The Tigers had former Saint Ashton sin-binned in the aftermath, but they still ended the night well on top, as they had been for the majority of the contest.
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