Leicester Tigers claimed Derby Day honours at Twickenham with a 23-15 victory over Northampton Saints on Saturday.
In a first Twickenham meeting since the 2013 Premiership Final, George Ford gave Tigers an early lead with a penalty before Saints forced a breakthrough try from Jamie Gibson. After Ford had added a second kick, Tigers ran in two tries inside 60 seconds around the half-hour mark from Ben Youngs and Jordan Olowofela to lead 20-5 against their East Midlands rivals.
Saints added their second try in added time at the end of the half as they cut that deficit to 10 points at half-time.
The second half was a more scrappy affair, with the rain playing its part, but Saints gathered momentum in the final half-hour to claim a try from Mike Haywood which narrowed the gap to 15-23 with 10 minutes left on the clock but that was the end of the scoring.
It was an emotional day for former Saints centre Rob Horne whose career was ended by injury in the derby meeting at Welford Road last season. The game was moved to HQ in support of the former international who suffered paralysis in his right arm after a collision in the opening seconds of the derby last April.
In team news announced on Friday, Tigers welcomed back Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs, while Jonah Holmes and Harry Wells also came into the starting team. Saints included former Tigers flanker Gibson but were forced into a late change when Courtney Lawes was ruled out by a back injury, with Api Ratuniyarawa stepping up from the bench and Tom Wood joining the replacements.
Horne delivered the matchball to appreciative applause around the stadium at a rain-lashed Twickenham and it was Ford who got the game under way.
Tigers, in their alternate white kit, had an early win when they took turnover ball on the ground in the Saints half and the travelling support sensed a chance when Tuilagi saw some space. And, after keeping ball in foreign territory, they had the first penalty of the game just 20 metres out.
Ford chipped the kick over for a three-point lead with less than five minutes played.
A big scrum on halfway brought another penalty moments later, but Ahsee Tuala kept Ford’s kick to the corner in play and Saints were able to clear.
Tigers lost Jonny May to injury after just eight minutes with what looked like a shoulder problem after carrying ball near halfway. As he left the field, Olowofela was given an early opportunity to return to action.
A kick off the outside of his right boot by full-back Mallinder gave Saints their first taste of the action in the Tigers half on nine minutes, pushing play into the corner, but they knocked on less than 10 metres out after Tigers had missed their own lineout throw.
A long pass from Cobus Reinach evaded the Saints backline and almost provided a turnover for Tigers, but Tuilagi just failed to get hold of the skidding ball. From the scrum, Mallinder pushed a kick up to the tryline, but Holmes was confident enough to run it out before Youngs kicked clear.
Tigers were then penalised in the next phase and Biggar turned down the chance of going for goal to kick into the corner. Saints missed their man and Guy Thompson gathered, but the referee’s assistant brought play back for a penalty against Dan Cole for contact in the lineout.
This time, they secured ball and despite a big hit from the Tigers pack, retained it through three more phases for Gibson score under a pile of bodies. Biggar was off target with the conversion kick but Saints led 5-3 on 17 minutes.
A wayward pass put Biggar under pressure near his own line soon after the restart as David Denton and Mike Williams chased him down and they were rewarded with a penalty award. Ford, though, pulled his kick left of the posts.
A break by Tuala threatened for Saints before Olowofela stepped in and then Thompson hacked play upfield but was just unable to grab the greasy ball with 40 metres of green space in front of him.
Tigers had another scrum penalty on 23 minutes, with referee JP Doyle clearly saying “both props going backwards” to the Saints pack as Ford pointed to the posts. Just short of the 10-metre line, wide on the left, Ford struck the ball cleanly and firmly to put Tigers in front at 6-5.
They stretched the lead with a Youngs try on 30 minutes after superb work from Adam Thompstone and Holmes.
Thompstone beat Mallinder to a high ball and managed to a flick a pass under pressure to Holmes and, with the defence outnumbered, he saw Youngs in support to run in and score. Ford added the kicked to make it 13-5.
One minute later and Tigers were further in front when Olowofela slid into the left-hand corner after Holmes had tidied up ball in his own half and then got Tigers going forward again.
Saints, who had lost Tuala to injury and then scrum-half Reinach to blood, wanted an instant response and built a number of phases in attack before spilling ball, with Sione Kalamafoni and Harry Wells working hard in defence.
They were then held up on the right-hand post, Denton wrapping up his opposite number. Play restarted, though, with an attacking scrum with just two minutes remaining in the opening period. Again, Saints retained ball to push for the line. Again, they stalled just short of the whitewash. And again restarted with a scrum. The defence reacted and held ball up off the floor to earn put-in at the next set-piece.
The danger was not over, though, and after restarting the game with four seconds remaining on the official clock, Tigers were free-kicked a the scrum and Saints stayed within reach of the line through the phases before lock David Ribbans forced his way over. Biggar missed his second conversion attempt as Tigers returned to the dressing rooms 20-10 in front.
Tino Mapapalangi had replaced Denton in the back row in theclosi9ng moments of the half and remained on the field at the start of the second period, though Reinach did return fromk his blood injury for Saints.
There was no let-up in the rain, which did not help the flow at the start of the second period, punctuated by set-pieces and spilled ball.
Saints gifted Tigers some territory when he was adjudged to be in front of fly-half Biggar as he went for a cross-kick just 25 metres from his own line and Ford pushed Tigers into the left-hand corner. At the lineout, though, scrum-half Reinach somehow ripped ball out and Saints cleared into touch 20 metres upfield.
A charge from Greg Bateman had the visiting support in good voice moments later and Tigers again put their penalty into the corner as they built some pressure on the Saints defence. But ball was wrapped up again in possession less than 10 metres out and Saints could restart with a scrum put-in.
The clock had reached 12 minutes in the period when Mallinder kicked up the right touchline and all of it has been played inside the Saints half. But they started to come into the game with some possession on the right before Ben Youngs blocked a grub-kick from Tom Collins and hacked upfield before winning a penalty as Saints chased back.
Ford added the three points from 30 metres out to make it 23-10 with the first score of the half on 58 minutes.
Holmes gathered the restart and ran at the Saints defence, but Tigers were forced back after kicking ball away and Collins almost found his way through on the wing before the forwards continued to knock at the door right on the tryline. A big hit from Tuilagi pushed them back as they tried to open play up but Kalamafoni was called for offside as Saints tried again.
Tigers did their best to upset the lineout in the corner from the penalty but were blown again for taking out the lifters and Saints set up a repeat. This time Cole led the defensive charge and Tigers finally forced an error. Saints dropping ball 10 metres out in a central position.
Tigers had spent a good 10-minute spell in their own defensive zone and stayed there when Kalamafoni dropped ball as he tried to run out from the base of the scrum with 15 minutes remaining.
Saints looked like they’d found some space on the right after Teimana Harrison set up a charge towards the line, but Kyle Eastmond quickly attacked the tackle area and referee Doyle whistled in his favour, allowing Ford to clear. But then Tigers were penalised and pinned back in the corner again.
This time they made Tigers pay with replacement hooker Mike Heywood forcing his way over. Biggar missed his conversion kick again as Tigers led 23-15 entering the final 10 minutes.
David Feao, off the bench for Bateman, almost became a derby hero when he barged his way towards the tryline but then lost control of the ball just a couple of metres out.
A scrum win against the head allowed Tigers to take up some more time and take the sting out of their rivals as play alternated either side of the halfway line with the clock ticking down and the game ended with Eastmond forcing another error anmd Tigers celebrating Derbny Day victory.
Thank you to all the travelling Tigers supporters who made the trip to support us today, we hope you enjoyed the game and have a safe journey home.
Tigers hold on to win 23-15 at Twickenham against Northampton Saints.
Chants of Tigers start around the ground as the clock runs down and the defence holds. Saints knock-on and Tigers kick to touch to end the game.
Tigers With Good Pressure
Tigers keep the pressure on Saints as they look to attack but the defence is holding as Saints attack on the 10 metre line.
Tigers on the hunt
Tigers lose the ball at the lineout but win it back at the scrum with some huge defence, Tigers now building phases and kick ahead to now attack the Saints 22.
Sam Lewis is now in to replace Valentino Mapapalangi.
Saints go wide with the ball from the scrum but Tigers make some big hits and Jonah Holmes pushes Saints into touch for a Tigers lineout on the 10 metre line.
Saints scrum but the ball appears for Sam Harrison, referee calls it back for another scrum, Saints ball.
Joe Heyes comes on to the pitch to replace Dan Cole.
Tigers NEarly There
Tigers look good in attack and get near the tryline with a great run from David Feao but he loses the ball in contact and Saints clear for a lineouton their 10 metre line.
Tigers look to return the pressure on Saints and win a penalty at the breakdown for a Tigers scrum in Saints 22.
Sam Harrison replaces Ben Youngs and David Feao replaces Greg Bateman.
Saints Conversion Missed
Dan Bigger can't add the conversion, the ball going wide of the posts so it remains 15-23 after 69 minutes.
Saints create a driving maul and it is replacement hooker Mikey Haywood who pushes through and gets over the line.
Saints look good in defence and win a penalty, kicking for another lineout in Tigers 22.
Tigers make a replacement as Tom Youngs is replaced by Ross McMillan.
Saints run quick ball from the scrum and pass it wide, Olowofela makes a big tackle and Eastmond is straight over the ball, winning a penalty for Tigers. Ford kicks to touch for the lineout.
Seems to be some slippery boots as we have a number of reset scrums.
Tigers lose the ball as they break away from the scrum but Saints are unable to gather the ball cleanly, lots of loose ball as the rain continues to fall hear at Twickenham.
Tigers have a close call as Saints look to break through the defence to score from a charge down kick but a Saints knock-on gives Tigers the scrum.
Saints kick for the lineout on Tigers 5 metre line, Tigers make a huge defensive effort but are penalised for engaging early, Saints go for another lineout.
A number of phases but Saints look to attack and get the ball into Tigers 5 metre channel, a penalty is given and Saints go quickly trying to score in the corner. Some big hits in defence from Tigers but Saints get the penalty advantage for offside.
Jonah Holmes shows his quick feet from the restart weaving his way through a number of defenders, Ford kicks ahead but Saints kick for touch and Tigers get the lineout.
Tigers get the first points of the second-half with a penalty from George Ford, 10-23 after 56 minutes.
Tigers keep the defence strong and a chip through from Saints in deflected, Ben Youngs chases and Dan Biggers is pinged for holding on as Ben and Kyle Eastmond counter ruck. Ford points to the posts.
Both teams are exchanging more kicks and it's all happening with the two 22's, some big hits from the defences too.
Saints again get the ball from the maul and hold Tigers up to win a scrum on their 5 metre line.
Tigers are quick from the lineout and work the ball wide with a great run from Greg Bateman, Saints are pinged for offside and Tigers get another lineout on the Saints 5 metre line.
Saints get the ball from the maul and clear for a Tigers lineout on the 22 metre line.
Saints kick across field and break up the pitch but are called back for Mallinder offside at the kick, Tigers kick for the lineout on Saints 5 metre line.
Tigers gather the ball for a lineout but the ball goes loose for a Saints scrum outside their 22.
Saints chip ahead but Tigers recover the ball and attack the Saints half, Ben Youngs gets over a ruck to win a penalty for Tigers as Ford kicks to touch.
Some big defence from Tigers as the ball is thrown loose into touch inside Tigers half but Tigers get the lineout. Tigers look to go forward but Saints hold up the maul for a scrum on Tigers 10 metre line.
Teams are back out
The teams are back out for the second-half as Saints kick things off.
Tigers are in the lead as we end the first-half 20-10 against Northampton Saints.
Saints Dan Bigger pushes the ball wide to end the first-half.
Saints are awarded the try, David Ribbons gets the ball down over the line for the try.
The scrum is messy and reset but Saints win a free kick, opt to scrum again. Saints pass the ball out wide and build the phases, Saints look to have scored but the referee asks the TMO.
Dave Denton goes for a HIA and Valentino Mapapalangi takes his place on the pitch.
Strong Tigers Defence
Tigers hold strong in the defence and hold up the Saints runner in a maul and win the ball in the scrum, still on the Tigers 5 metre line. Small break in play as Tigers Dave Denton gets some treatment.
Saints look to go quick from the scrum and build phases under the Tigers posts but are held up again to get another scrum on Tigers 5 metre line.
Tigers look good in the scrum but a loose ball and Saints are on the attack again, Tigers defence manages to hold up Saints as they push over the line. Saints 5 metre scrum.
Saints hit back
Saints look to hit back from the kick-off and attack the Tigers 22 but Tigers look strong in defence and Saints knock-on.
Tuala replaced by Tom Collins, Reinach was replaced by Mitchell
Tigers add the conversion through George Ford to make it 5-20 after 33 minutes.
Tigers with another try inside 22, Jonah Holmes gets the ball in the 22, weaves through three Saints defenders and offloads to Jordan Olowofela who shows his pace to score in the corner.
Tigers add the conversion through George Ford to make it 5-13 after 30 minutes.
Saints chip across field from a ruck, Adam Thompstone collects the ball and between two defenders flicks the ball out to Jonah Holmes who gets into space in the Saints 22 and offloads to Ben Youngs to run under the posts.
Tigers get a hand to the ball in the lineout but it Saints who recover it and they attack Tigers on the half-way. A few more kicks exchanged and Tigers put pressure on at the breakdown as Saints try to build phases
Both sides exchange kicks from the scrum, testing out the players at the back, Dan Cole makes a big hit to push Saints into touch inside their half.
Tigers Kyle Eastmond takes the kick-off and clears the ball to touch for a Saints lineout on Tigers 10 metre lineout. Saints are building phases but Tigers win a scrum from a Saints knock-on.
George Ford puts the ball straight between the posts to put Tigers back in the lead, 5-6 after 24 minutes.
Tigers win the penalty at the breakdown after a strong show from the Tigers pack, Ford points to the posts.
Tigers win a free-kick at the scrum but opt to scrum again.
Jordan Olowofela takes a Saints high ball and Tigers return the kick to attack the Saints half but Saints make a break to get up to the Tigers 22. A break puts Guy Thompson in space but he can't collect the ball and its a scrum for Saints on their 10 metre line.
George Ford takes the kick for Tigers but the ball goes wide, Saints have a kick-off from their 22.
Both teams look to exchange kicks after the kick-off but Tigers keep on the pressure and pin Dan Bigger in the 22, winning a penalty at the breakdown. George Ford points to the posts.
Saints Missed Conversion
Saints Dan Bigger pushes the conevrsion wide so it remains 5-3.
Saints drive from the lineout and create the phases in Tigers 5 metre channel, eventually it is Jamie Gibson who crosses the line for the try.
Saints overthow in the lineout but the play is called back and Tigers are penalised at the lineout, Saints will get another go.
Good Work Jonah
Saints chip ahead from the scrum but Jonah Holmes watches the ball and runs up to the 22, Tigers kick ahead but Saints win a penalty at the breakdown. Saints go for touch, lineout on Tigers 5 metre line.
Tigers hold the scrum and Ben Youngs clears the ball up to half-way. The ball is spread out wide but is loose and Tigers knock-on for a Saints scrum on half-way.
Both sides look to gain some territory in the early stages of this game as Saints kick for touch in Tigers 22. The ball is loose in the lineout for Saints to attack the Tigers line but Saints knock-on for a Tigers scrum.
Tigers make an early substitution as Jonny May receives treatment but has to leave the field, Jordan Olowofela takes his place.
Tigers look good at the scrum and win a penalty, Ford looks to find touch the ball is kept in play. Both teams kick for territory and it is Tigers who find it on halfway to give Saints the lineout. Also a break in play for an injury to Tigers Jonny May.
Tigers clear the kick-off for a Saints lineout, the ball is loose and Tigers get a scrum for a Saints knock-on.
Tigers are first on the scoreboard with a penalty from George Ford to make it 0-3 after 3 minutes.
Tigers go quick at the lineout and carry the ball into Tigers 22 and a chip ahead tries to find Guy Thompson but Saints recover. Tigers had advantage and Ford points to the posts.
Both teams test out a few high balls as the rain falls here at Twickenham, Tigers win a turnover and attack the Saints half. Ford chips ahead but Mallinder clears for a Tigers lineout just outside Saints 22.
Here We Go!
We have kick-off in the first East Midlands Derby of the 2018/19 season at Twickenham, George Ford gets things underway.
And the Saints
Followed by the home side today, Northampton Saints and we are ready for kick-off.
Here come Tigers
Tigers are first out onto the pitch lead out by captain Tom Youngs.
Rob Horne is introduced to the Twickenham crowd ahead of kick-off to deliver the match ball and the crowd give him a huge welcome.
Late Saints Change
Saints make a late change from with Lawes out and Ratuniyarawa in his place, with Tom Wood coming onto the bench.
The teams have finished their warm-ups and have headed into the tunnel ahead of kick-off.
Welcome to Twickenham
Hello and welcome to Twickenham for our match against Northampton Saints with less than 10 minutes to go before kick-off.