Play-off chasing Northampton looked like they would have to settle for a Gallagher Premiership win minus a bonus point versus London Irish at The Stoop on Saturday until some late acrobatics from winger Ahsee Tuala.

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There were less than 20 seconds on the 80 minutes remaining when the ball emerged from the back of a Saints scrum with the score 22-3 in their favour.

Northampton’s pack had come out in the second half to dominate proceedings following a forgettable first-half that had ended in a 3-3 stalemate following a single successful penalty kick from each side.      

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Northampton full-back George Furbank guests on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series

Beaten last weekend in their 2019/20 season restart game by Wasps, Northampton knew they needed to up their efforts and a try from Tom Collins – along with two penalty tries – put them firmly in control. However, they were still short the bonus score with the game in its final minute and heading for its closing play. 

Securing possession from the set-piece, it took a long pass from James Grayson to put the London Irish defence in trouble but it still required an exquisite finish from the agile Tuala to grab the all-important end-game score. 

Latching onto the ball outside the 22, he beat one defender on his outside before tip-toeing down the sideline, fobbing off another defender and then producing an exhilarating dive at the corner with eleven seconds of the regulation 80 remaining. 

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The wonderful finish left former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio, who was on punditry duty for broadcasters BT Sport, singing the winger’s praises.

“Wow, what a score that was… wonderful finish from Tuala. Northampton Saints will be delighted with the set-piece move, lovely pass, there is so much to do there. That’s a strong double fend, a lovely little roll and a score with the right hand.”

The 27-3 win lifted Saints to sixth in the table, a point off of Sale who occupy the last of the play-off spots.

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