Northampton Saints took Derby Day honours with a 36-13 victory over Leicester Tigers in Round 5 of the Gallagher Premiership season at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.
In the 244th East Midlands derby, Saints claimed five tries – three of them in the first half – as they built on their good form at the start of the season.
Guy Thompson got his first Premiership try of the campaign midway through the first half for Tigers, but a pair of scores from Matt Proctor gave Saints the initiative which they would not let slip. They stretched their advantage through Api Ratuniyarawa just seconds before the break ,with the big lock only added to the line-up ahead of kick-off as one of three changes as Saints lost Courtney Lawes, Owen Franks and Dan Biggar to injury.
Saints got their bonus-point try through Tom Collins and then replacement Fraser Dingwall added a fifth on a tough day for the visitors.
Both teams flew into their early challenges but it was a scrappy start with a high error count until a smart set of phases gave Ben Youngs and George Ford a chance to set Jaco Taute away. When he was tackled 20 metres out, Tigers continued to recycle until a whistle in their favour right in front of the posts and Ford put the day’s first points on the board with the kick.
When Saints threatened in the right-hand corner, Thompson read a pass in front of his own posts and intercepted. But his offload went forward and play came back for a Saints set-piece which provided their breakthrough score.
Cobus Reinach took play to the right from the set-piece and, with Tigers focused on the scrum-half, Kiwi centre Proctor charged on to the short pass to score. Grayson’s conversion made it 7-3 on 19 minutes.
Tigers lost Jonah Holmes to injury as the game restarted, with Andy Forsyth introduced on the wing just as the forward pack put pressure on Saints with a powerful drive in the corner. Two penalties and a warning followed against Northampton as play stayed five metres from their tryline.
Another big push, with Sione Kalamafoni and Wells getting close to the whitewash, ended with Dan Cole and then Thompson making the last charge for the try. Ford added an immaculate conversion for a 10-7 lead with 24 minutes elapsed.
The reply was a bizarre one when Lavanini chased a clearing kick, only for it to rebound off his head straight into Alex Waller’s hands. The prop had plenty of green space in front of him before being brought down by the scrambling defence, though Grayson added a penalty for a tackle around the prop’s collar to level the scores at 10-10.
And the home side went ahead again with Proctor’s second try, finishing in the corner as they kept ball alive in contact from one side of the field to the other with the centre adding the finish after Rory Hutchinson had been blocked out just short of the line. Grayson’s touchline conversion made it 17-10.
Kalamafoni, Cole and Lavanini were prominent carriers as Tigers tried to build phases of possession, but Saints cleared their lines with a penalty award from Matthew Carley. Cole was quickly forced into action at the other end of the field as he flattened full-back George Furbank as he danced his way through the first line of defence.
But Saints claimed a third try as Tigers lost ball at a set-piece and Ratuniyarawa finished a break from Naiyaravoro to score. Grayson’s kick was not the prettiest but still went between the posts for a 24-10 lead at half-time.
Jake Kerr joined the forward pack early in the second period just as Cole’s work at the breakdown brought a penalty in Saints territory and Lavanini carried strongly from the set-piece before Saints closed and the big Argentinian almost made a breakthrough moments later as he joined forces with Genge. Saints, though, closed in quickly again before losing lock Alex Moon to a yellow card as he slapped ball out of Youngs’ hands.
Ford kicked the three-pointer to make it 24-13 but Saints were quickly back on the attack and kept their rivals pinned back until Hutchinson’s clever kick into the corner led to a bonus-point score.
Tigers went long at the lineout but lost possession off the back and, after a couple of pushes towards the line, Grayson used a long pass out for Collins to score in the corner. The fly-half missed the conversion kick at 29-13 on 59 minutes.
Lavanini’s appetite for work was apparent in another big hit in defence followed by work at a ruck on the other side of the pitch, but Tigers just couldn’t get a foothold in the form of meaningful possession. And they paid the price when another missed lineout provided ball for Saints who finished through replacement Fraser Dingwall on their right and Grayson’s conversion stretched the lead to 36-13 inside the final 10 minutes.
Another error from Tigers back on their own tryline provided Saints with a five-metre scrum and they had a penalty too right in front of the posts as the clock reached 80 minutes but Tigers this time held out one last push.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
Thank you to all those Tigers supporters who made the trip to Northampton for this afternoon's game, as well as all of you who followed along on Matchday Live.
Next up for the green, white and red; a home clash with Italian club Calvisano next Saturday, December 7 (3.00pm). See you then.
FULL TIME | 36-13
Tigers are downed by Northampton Saints in Round 5 of the Gallagher Premiership.
Northampton get over the line with the clock in the red, but the ball is held up. That's the game.
UP TO THE LINE
Lewis makes his presence felt once more to keep Northampton out, but Forysth is pinged for an off-the-ball hit on Dingwall, and the Saints will have a scrum under the Leicester posts.
FOOT ON THE THROAT
The home side have a scrum on Tigers' five-metre line with less than two minutes to go on the clock.
Saints burst off the back of the scrum, but Sam Lewis makes an important intervention to stop a sixth Saints try.
ANOTHER PUSHING CONTEST
Both teams mired in a scrum battle - this time on halfway - and we'll pause for a few moments while Leatigaga re-attaches a boot.
Ben White is given a second chance at feeding the ball after a scrum goes down in the Northampton half.
AND THE EXTRAS
Two more points from Grayson's boot take the Northampton lead to 23 points.
DINGWALL DASHES THROUGH
Northampton pull the trigger with a neat move from the set-piece, and have try number five through backs replacement Fraser Dingwall.
Cobus Reinach takes the applause from the Franklin's Gardens crowd, and James Mitchell takes his place at scrum-half.
TWO MORE HOME CHANGES
Fraser Dingwall takes the place of Matt Proctor, while Mikey Haywood is swapped for Michael van Vuuren.
A let off at the maul as Saints are pinged for side entry deep into Tigers territory, and play will resume a further 20 metres up the field following Ford's kick.
FOUR TIGERS CHANGES
Facundo Gigena (for Genge), Nephi Leatigaga (for Cole), Sam Lewis (for Wells) and Ben White (for Youngs) are all onto the field.
GIBSON FOR WOOD
Former Tigers flanker Jamie Gibson is on the field, in place of Tom Wood.
BIG HIT FROM TOMÁS
Northampton grasp the keys to unlock the Tigers line once more, as Reinach feeds Proctor before Hutchinson puts in a 20-metre pass to Ludlam, but Lavanini is having none of it.
The big Argentina lock puts in a huge shot in defence, to a whince from the crowd.
Furbank is replaced by Tuala for a second time in this match, as the young man goes for another head injury assessment.
FRONT ROW CHANGES
Alex Waller and Ehren Painter are swapped for Francois van Wyk and Paul Hill in the Northampton front row.
TAP AND GO
Northampton pick and go from their scrum, but give away a penalty in the Tigers 22 and Youngs taps and goes quickly.
His pass to May is behind the player, but the England man still gobbles it up and bursts up his wing for a few more metres.
SCRUM ON HALFWAY
Thompson is up and about, and well enough to rejoin the Tigers ranks.
We'll get going once more with a scrum just beyond the big Gallagher Premiership rainbow logo painted in the centre of the field.
PAUSE FOR TREATMENT
A burst on the whistle from Carley as he notices Guy Thompson clash with scrum-half Youngs, and we'll pause as he is attended to by the Tigers medics.
Jaco Taute is off after an hour on his Premiership debut, replaced by Noel Reid.
SIN BIN FINISHED
Moon returns from his yellow card, and we'll have a check with TMO Rowan Kitt to see which side will throw-in to restart the game.
Tigers concede a free kick from a scrum deep inside the Northampton half, and Grayson gets rid of the ball quickly.
BACK ROW CHANGE
Jordan Coghlan is on for Sione Kalamafoni.
Grayson's kick is hooked left, and so the Northampton lead is 16 points.
The Leicester lineout is fluffed, and falls nicely for Tom Wood. The home forwards recycle, and Collins is over in the corner.
The ball is back with Northampton, and Rory Hutchinson slides one into touch for a five-metre throw.
Tigers nullify the threat with a penalty from the scrum - Painter down again - and Ford makes a neat bit of territory with the free kick.
The home side build up a head of steam after another huge carry from Naiyaravoro, but co-captain Harrison knocks on as they get close to the Tigers line. Scrum down.
THREE FROM THE TEE
Ford adds three points to the Tigers tally with a penalty in front of the posts.
YELLOW CARD FOR MOON
Lavanini gallops through the Saints line and is taken down by the final defender in front of the posts, but Alex Moon slaps the ball out of Youngs' hand at the ruck and is shown a yellow card.
Tigers have a kick at goal.
There's a big shot on Lavanini as Tigers look to use the advantage from their lineout, but a couple of phases later the ball is lost in contact and Northampton will breathe a sigh of relief.
CHANGE AT HOOKER
Jake Kerr replaces Tom Youngs in the Tigers front row, and the Scotland hooker will be into the action immediately with a throw-in on the far side.
TIGERS WIN THE PENALTY
Neat inter-play from Furbank and Saints wing Tom Collins, but the full-back takes the ball into a red wall made up of Dan Cole-shaped bricks, and the England prop keeps the man wrapped up to win a penalty.
Northampton restart from their throw, but it's not long before the ball is out on the near side once more, and Tigers have a lineout of their own.
Tom Youngs' feed isn't straight, though, and we'll have another set-piece; this time in the form of a Saints scrum.
After a frantic spell of play, both teams look to the skies with some long, high balls to each other. Ben Youngs pulls the trigger and opts for touch with his third return of the rally.
Northampton start the second half crisply, and are into the Tigers half with ball in hand.
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY
Northampton keep Tigers waiting for a few moments ahead of this second half, before James Grayson puts boot to ball and gets the second half underway.
HALF TIME | 24-10
A to-and-fro first half at Franklin's Gardens, but Northampton have the lead at the break.
MATCH ACTION | CHIEF APPROVES
Manu Tuilagi congratulates Guy Thompson on his second try of the season - and first of the term in the Premiership.
TWO MORE POINTS
The ball swirls through the posts and Saints convert their third score.
SAINTS TEAM TRY
Saints pop the cork on their champagne rugby after snaffling the ball at the lineout, and put the ball through several players before Ratuniyarawa dives over on the left.
PUSH AT THE LINEOUT
Welcome respite for Tigers as Painter gives away a weak penalty at the set-piece, and Ford kicks ling to set up a Tigers throw deep into green, black and gold territory.
Tigers win the ball back, but Youngs goes high in attempt to find May, and possession is back with Northampton.
The line isn't set, though, and Grayson opts to kick in behind for a lineout on the far side.
LUDLAM WRESTLES THROUGH
Rory Hutchinson glides through with a half-break on the left, but finds Manu Tuilagi and Andy Forsyth. The ball gets back to England's World Cup bolter Ludlam, who uses his strength to drag a Tigers defender an extra couple of metres.
SAINTS PULL THE STRINGS
Furbank dances his way through on the right following a relatively simple lineout, but Dan Cole is there to flatten his man. The ball is snaffled backwards - just - and Grayson chips through for another throw.
Genge finds himself unexpectedly involved from a high kick after the ball is batted back by a Northampton hand, but he does well to protect the ball in time for the support to come over the top.
Tigers recycle, but as they edge into the 22 give away a penalty at the breakdown, and Chris Boyd's men can relieve the pressure with a touchfinder to the right.
Grayson's kick from the touchline gives the home side a seven-point lead.
Northampton plunge down the right, before switching back to the left to put Proctor over for a second score.
With Wells wearing the No6 shirt this afternoon, Tigers have the benefit of three second-rowers on the pitch - and make the most of it by using them all in a shortened lineout, alongside Ellis Genge.
ALL SQUARE AT THE GARDENS
Grayson's successful penalty makes it all square in this Premiership clash.
OFF THE BONCE!
Ouch. Replays show the ball has just bounced off Lavanini's head - he's fine - but play continues, and Tigers give away a penalty on the edge of the 22, bang smack in the middle of the pitch.
Northampton will be able to repsond immediately.
A sweet connection from Ford sees his conversion sail through the uprights.
GUY GETS OVER
The ball gets to a Leicester hand, and the forwards bundle it up to the line, and a couple of phases later Guy Thompson dives through for the score.
WORD FROM THE REF
The home side are penalised at the ensuing lineout, and referee Carley has a word with Saints co-captain Alex Waller. Youngs towels off the ball once more...
UP TO THE LINE
A brilliant shove from the Tigers pack from the lineout, before Sione Kalamafoni breaks off and gets up to the line.
Saints give away a penalty and Leicester go for the corner again.
HOLMES LIMPS OFF
Jonah Holmes looks a little uncomfortable as he leaves the field under his own power. He's been replaced by Andy Forysth.
Northampton fluff their lines at the restart, though, and Tom Youngs will have a throw-in inside the Saints 22.
Fly-half Grayson adds the extras from the tee, and Saints lead seven points to three.
PROCTOR OVER FOR SAINTS
The Tigers scrum holds strong, but Cobus Reinach digs the ball out the back and feeds Matt Proctor to burst through on the right.
Furbank rejoins the action, and Tuala takes his place on the bench once more.
HARD WORK IN DEFENCE
Tigers now switch to working hard in defence, as Saints put the ball through hands and get it out to big Taqele Naiyaravoro out on his wing.
Jonah Holmes does a great job of stopping him in his tracks - with the help of Worth - and Tigers manage to intercept a loose pass in the middle of the pitch to stem the flow of play.
We'll restart with a scrum after a Tigers offload sneaks forwards.
FIRST POINTS OF THE GAME
Ford kicks a simple penalty from in front of the posts to give Tigers a three-point lead.
INTO THE REDZONE
Jaco Taute lights the touchpaper and bursts through the line and into the Saints 22 on the left. The ball is recycled out to May on the right wing, but he is taken to ground by three defenders.
Tigers nudge closer up the middle, but Northampton infringe in the floor to give Ford a first kick of the game.
Tom Youngs finds Tomás Lavanini at the next lineout, but the ball is unplayable so we'll go with a scrum.
Genge gets his revenge as Northampton tighthead Ehren Painter is picked out this time around.
May does a good job of wrestling Saints centre Matt Proctor to ground, but the former All Black gets the ball away to his support before he makes touch. James Grayson skids across the whitewash and it'll be another Tigers throw.
HIT AND MISS
Harry Wells steals the lineout for Tigers to run with a bit of possession, but Youngs' box kick is not accurate enough and is straight into touch.
...NOT LIKE THAT
...but the arm goes up in favour of Northampton, as Ellis Genge is pinged at loosehead for his bind in that scrum. Saints onto the fringes of the Tigers 22...
SCRUM TOGETHER, RIGHT NOW
Northampton win a lineout, but the throw from Mikey Haywood is nowhere near straight. Ben Youngs will have the put-in at the first scrum of the game...
HEAD INJURY ASSESSMENT
George Furbank is replaced by Ahsee Tuala at full-back for Northampton.
Saints originally had a penalty, but after the TMO shows Api Ratuniyarawa's charge on May, referee Matthew Carley reverses the decision.
CHECK WITH THE TMO
George Worth is drawn into the action early as Teimana Harrison crashes through the Tigers line and gets motoring over halfway.
The full-back downs his man, and we'll check with the TMO for a late off-ball hit on Jonny May.
HEAVY EARLY CARRIES
Tigers string together a lung-busting opening passage of play, trucking the ball up hard into the Northampton half. The visitors win a penalty on halfway, and Ford puts boot to ball for a throw on the edge of the 22.
KICK-OFF IN ROUND 5
George Ford gets us going at Franklin's Gardens. Derby Day is GO!
TIGERS ON THE TURF
Tom Youngs leads his side out - decked out in fluoro-red for this Derby Day fixture. Moments to go.
FIVE MINUTES TO GO
Both teams are in from their warm-ups, and there's just five minutes to go until we get going here at Franklin's Gardens.
Who's ready for The George and Jonny Show?
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS
Tigers include all six of the club’s England Rugby World Cup squad in the starting XV for Round 5 of Premiership action.
Jonny May makes his first appearance since the World Cup Final, with Dan Cole, George Ford, Ellis Genge, Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs all joining him in the starting line-up.
Jaco Taute starts in the Gallagher Premiership for the first time, while Jonah Holmes makes his first appearance since his four-score heroics against Pau. Forwards trio Calum Green, Sione Kalamafoni and Tom Youngs all return after sitting out the European trip to Cardiff last weekend.
Northampton make three late changes to their starting side, with international trio Dan Biggar, Courtney Lawes and Owen Franks all late withdrawals. They are replaced by James Grayson, Api Ratuniyarawa and Ehren Painter.
You can check out the full match line-ups by clicking here, or scrolling down on this page.
EXCLUSIVE | THOMPSON DESCRIBES ‘FULL FOCUS’
Tigers back-rower Guy Thompson is one of a handful of players included this afternoon to have played away at Cardiff in last weekend’s European Challenge Cup win.
In a Matchday Live exclusive, this afternoon’s No7 discusses the squad’s focus on this ever-important Derby Day fixture.
“Europe was a great chance for us to reset, welcome some of our internationals back and play some good rugby,” he said.
“The last two games allowed us to play some of the younger guys and give them some opportunities. The most important thing was we got two wins from two – one at home, one away – and we backed up two wins in a row.
“We’ve done it in Europe, and we’re all gunning to try and make it three from three this weekend.
“Cardiff was a great game, but as soon as that whistle went at full-time, all focus has been on our league position.
“All eyes have been on Saints this week, and looking forward to the Premiership. We’re itching to get going.”
POINTS MEAN PRIZES, SAYS YOUNGS
Scrum-half Ben Youngs says there will be more than just local rivalries on the line in this afternoon’s league clash.
Tigers sit 11th in the Gallagher Premiership table ahead of Round 5, with only Saracens – docked 35 points for their well-documented Salary Cap indiscretions – below the men from Leicester.
“Tigers versus Saints is always exciting, but this time we’ve got to approach it knowing that we need Premiership points,” Youngs said.
“This is another Premiership game that we need to get points out of because we haven’t got as much as we would like out of the first four games.”
You can read more of the England Leicester scrum-half’s match preview here.
DERBY DAY PREVIEW
Tigers take on their nearest-and-dearest for a 244th time this afternoon after a short trip down the M1.
Geordan Murphy’s men may have the edge in historical encounters – 136 wins to 88 – but Saints have taken the spoils in the last three meetings following Leicester’s most recent win at Twickenham in October 2018.
Read our full match preview here, or scroll down on this page.
WELCOME TO MATCHDAY LIVE!
Welcome to Franklin’s Gardens as Tigers take on Northampton Saints in Round 5 of this season’s Gallagher Premiership, with kick-off to come at 3.00pm.
You can follow all the action as it happens with our Matchday Live coverage, right here on the Tigers App and LeicesterTigers.com.