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'The card obviously has an impact. That’s just the way life is'

By PA
Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers – Gallagher Premiership – cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens

Northampton director of rugby Phil Dowson revelled in a dose of derby-day revenge after his Gallagher Premiership leaders pulled away to beat 14-man Leicester 40-17.

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Tigers won the reverse fixture at Welford Road and looked well set for a double when they led 10-6 after a scrappy first 40 minutes.

But a red card for Solomone Kata – at which point Saints led 18-17 – proved costly as the hosts pulled clear late on.

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“You never get tired of beating Leicester,” Dowson said. “It’s such a historic fixture and we knew the intensity with which they would start the game.

“It was a very turgid, slow first half and we came in at half-time a bit frustrated and a bit annoyed that we hadn’t managed to do more with what we had in terms of possession.

“We managed to keep the ball for multiple phases and clearly a red card has an impact because it was 18-17 at that point and then it was one-way traffic in the last 10 to 15 minutes.

“I thought the work we did in the first half and the work we did in the first 20 minutes of the second half had put them into a place where we could exert control.

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“We got on top of them and the card obviously has an impact. That’s just the way life is.”

Tigers skipper Julian Montoya scored the only try of the first half, which otherwise saw Handre Pollard and George Furbank trade penalties.

Curtis Langdon and a penalty try early in the second period put Saints into a healthy advantage but that was cut to a point when Jasper Wiese crossed.

The key moment then came when Kata’s high hit on Fraser Dingwall earned him a red card via TMO review.

Northampton took advantage in ruthless fashion, scoring from a maul via Robbie Smith before efforts from George Hendy and Tom James – along with a tidy Fin Smith drop goal – finished the job.

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Leicester head coach Dan McKellar said: “Ultimately, discipline and execution in the attacking 22 killed us.

“Sometimes it’s just a matter of doing the obvious and putting your winger in the corner and at this level, you’ve got to be able to do that against quality teams.

Attack

169
Passes
134
154
Ball Carries
122
398m
Post Contact Metres
214m
11
Line Breaks
6

“To play nearly 40 minutes against a team of Northampton’s quality with 14 men, it’s tough.

“We were really slow out of the blocks in the second half but we got back to 18-17 and were well and truly in the game, but again discipline hurt us and a penalty try and yellow card put us down to 14.

“We got the red card and against a team that’s playing with that confidence and momentum, they have at the moment. It’s tough to defend and we ran out of legs.”

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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