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Rugby News

Preview | Tigers v Saints in semi-final

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Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints meet in the 249th East Midlands derby this afternoon (Saturday), with the prize of a place in the Gallagher Premiership Final at stake.

The semi-finals kick off with Saracens at home to Harlequins at 1.30pm, followed at Mattioli Woods Welford Road by Tigers versus Saints at 4.30pm. The two winners will meet in the Final at Twickenham Stadium next Saturday.

Tigers completed the league programme with a 20-10 victory over Wasps last weekend to become the first team to top the table through an entire season while neighbours Northampton scored 10 tries in a big win over Newcastle Falcons to secure fourth place ahead of challengers Gloucester.

This is a first semi-final appearance for Tigers since 2017, and for Saints since 2019. It is also the first played at Tigers since 2013, the same year that the East Midlands rivals met in the Final.

Ben Youngs is one of the players who has previously experienced this stage and said: “It’s a long time since we have been in a semi-final, it is exciting. The buzz is there, you don’t need to create it.

“Through the season, every game you get a step closer to the top four, then top two and we didn’t know who we were playing until last weekend.

“It is a squad effort and staff effort all season that gets you to this point and gets you the opportunity for this weekend.

“The boys are excited and just want to make sure we get all our bits right. Big games come down to every little moment and the team prepares to be ready for different things that might happen.”

In team news announced on Friday lunchtime, head coach Steve Borthwick brings Julián Montoya and Dan Kelly into the Tigers line-up, while Joe Heyes is in line for his 100th first-team appearance if used as a replacement.

Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd has made four changes to his line-up with Juarno Augustus, Emmanuel Iyogun and Ehren Painter added to the forward pack and Courtnall Skosan named on the wing.

The visitors come into the game on the back of six wins in the last seven league matches, running in 40 tries in the process.

The duo have met twice before in Premiership semi-finals, with each side winning at home –Tigers in 2011 and Saints on their way to their title three years later.

Overall the two clubs have met on 248 previous occasions with Tigers winning 139 to 90 by Northampton and 19 games drawn.

“We’ve been in knockout mode for the last couple of months but whenever you get to this point in, the stakes go up, the margins for error get smaller, and the space to execute your game plan disappears,” Boyd said.

“So, we’ll have less time for our skill execution, physicality and decision-making, but we’ve worked hard on getting a higher level of consistency in our performance and we’re well prepared for the battle ahead of us.”

There is provision for extra-time and a place-kicking competition if the scores are level at the end of 80 minutes.

If scores are level at full-time in 80 minutes, there is a five-minute break taken on the pitch and then a period of extra-time (10 minutes each way, with a one-minute interval).

If the scores remain equal after extra-time then the winner will be the team which has scored the most tries in the game (including extra-time).

If the scores are level and the number of tries scored is equal, then there shall be a place kick competition. Each team nominates three kickers who will attempt to score from six designated positions on the 10 and 22-metre lines. If the scores are tied after the six kicks for each team, it will go to “sudden death” from the middle of the 10-metre line. The three kickers must have been playing at the final whistle of extra-time.

Referee is Matthew Carley in his 121st Premiership fixture in charge and fifth semi-final. He was also the man in the middle for the Final last year when Harlequins beat Exeter Chiefs.

Click here for the Matchday Guide and everything you need to know if you are joining us on Saturday.

Tickets are still available. Book online, phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2) or in person.