Leicester Tigers Development XV were beaten 49-24 by Northampton Wanderers in the Premiership ‘A’ League at Loughborough University on Monday evening.
Northampton maintained their 100 per cent winning record in the competition, scoring seven tries in a clinical display against a youthful Tigers team. The visitors led 32-3 at the break after scoring four first-half tries to a penalty by Tom Hardwick.
Tigers rallied in the second-half period to score tries through fly-half Tom Hardwick and hooker Harry Mahoney and reduce the deficit to 32-17.
But Northampton ended any prospect of a comeback with three tries in the space of 10 minutes to maintain their position at the top of the Northern Conference.
Fred Tuilagi crossed for a consolation score on full-time for the Tigers to complete the scoring.
Will Evans captained the side, with further senior experience provided by the likes of Brendon O’Connor, Harry Wells and George Worth.
Northampton put down a marker by overturning possession at the first scrum while Evans led Tigers’ first meaningful attack with a charge from his own 22 and a kick deep into Wanderers’ territory that was well fielded by George Furbank.
The game was 12 minutes old when Northampton had the first scoring opportunity. Tigers were offside on their 22 and James Grayson landed a simple penalty to give the visitors a 3-0 lead. Grayson doubled the Northampton lead five minutes later after Tigers pulled down a maul on their 22.
Northampton stretched their lead further with the first try in the 18th minute. Rory Hutchinson’s break was finished off by Juan Pablo Estelles at the left corner. Grayson converted to give Wanderers a 13-0 lead.
Wanderers scored a second try on 20 minutes. Their forwards sucked in the Tigers defence under the posts and Nafi Tuitavake was in space on the right to dot down.
Tigers responded with a penalty of their own, Tom Hardwick landing his kick after Saints infringed at a ruck.
Northampton scored their third after 25 minutes, Tuitavake offloading brilliantly out of the tackle for Ben Nutley to charge over. Grayson’s conversion put them 25-3 ahead.
Holmes pounced on loose ball and hacked ahead. He led the chase with Jordan Olowofela but Furbank managed to get back. However, Furbank spilled the ball as he slid over his own line and then played it on the floor to deny the chasing Tigers possession and was shown a yellow card.
But despite being a man down, Northampton continued to press and scored a fourth try on 33 minutes. Lock Api Ratuniyarawa broke away from a maul and barrelled his way to the line as the visitors led 32-3 at the break.
Tigers steadied the ship in the early stages of the second period and claimed their opening try on 54 minutes.
Holmes made a lovely break from his own 22 into the Northampton 22 where Hardwick punched a line to score next to the posts. Hardwick converted his try to leave Tigers 32-10 down.
Tigers claimed a second try four minutes later. Hooker Mahoney tidied up scrappy lineout ball on the Northampton 22 and the gap opened up for him to dart through untouched to score. Hardwick’s conversion left Tigers 32-17 behind.
Wanderers remained a threat and they scored a fifth try of the evening in the 64th minute. Tuitavake made the most of space on the right to score at the corner
They crossed at the same corner 10 minutes from time, replacement full-back Tom Emery scorching a line to score. Estelles made it three tries in the space of 10 minutes when he raced onto Tuitavake’s pass to score.
Tigers finished the game on the attack and they grabbed a consolation try with the last attack as Tuilagi forced his way over from close range. Hardwick converted for the final points of the game.