Josh Skelcey scored twice but the Under-18s were downed late at Welford Road © Adedapo Segun
Match Report, Academy News TIGERS U18 29 SAINTS U18 26 Derby day ends in heartache
Back row Lewis Ludlam refused to be downcast after the Saints Under-18s were pipped to the post by Leicester, the youngsters having twice come from behind at Welford Road before a try four minutes from time finally sealed their fate.
“It was a really good effort. You know when you come to Leicester you know you’re going to have a really good game,” Ludlam told SaintsTV. “It was physical but I think we just got a bit unlucky at the end. You can’t knock the effort from the boys so we’re not entirely disappointed.
“It did hurt at the end but you’ve always got to get back on the horse after that, that’s the difference between winning a losing really, whether you can take a knock and get straight back up.
“We knew we had to put in a good performance here and we did. We’ve got Leeds just after Christmas so we need to go strong into that.”
While it was a late Tigers score that proved the final say, the Saints would have been bemoaning a slow start in which the hosts went over twice to open up a 10-0 lead after 26 minutes – even if possession was relatively evenly shared.
Yet while it was Leicester making the most of their time on the ball, the Saints were by no means out of the tie and having peppered the Tigers line, a penalty to the corner was mauled over for Jordan Onojaife to ground.
That good work was almost immediately undone, however, and with Tigers pouncing for a third to turnaround 17-5 to the good, the Saints needed to respond.
They did just that, too, looking after the ball for the opening minutes of the second half and finding a way through thanks to the pace of George Wacokecoke and Josh Skelcey, the latter touching down to reduce arrears.
The visitors stepped it up a notch in defence too and with Leicester hurried on their own ball, a spill allowed Howard Packman to hack forward and get on the end of his own kick to touch down and put Saints ahead for the first time – Harry Mallinder adding his second of three conversions on the afternoon.
A chargedown would bounce kindly for Leicester to register a fourth but when they were reduced to 14 men, Saints looked to have taken control of the contest once more with Rotimi Segun bursting through a gap and offloading to Skelcey for his second of the afternoon 11 minutes from time.
Back to a full contingent though Tigers had one last throw of the dice and with the pressure on, a rolling maul proved too heavy to hold and the points and bragging rights belonged to Leicester.
18mins TIGS Try Hills 5-0
26mins TIGS Try Fossey 10-0
32mins SAINTS Try Onojaife 10-5
32mins TIGS Try Jones Con Hargreaves 17-5
HALF-TIME TIGS 17 SAINTS 5
37mins SAINTS Try Skelcey Con Mallinder 17-12
39mins SAINTS Miss pen Mallinder
44mins SAINTS Try Packman Con Mallinder 17-19
47mins TIGS Try + Con Hargreaves 24-19
52mins TIGS Yellow Beckett
59mins SAINTS Try Skelcey Con Mallinder 24-26
66mins TIGS Try Neir 29-26
FULL-TIME TIGS 29 SAINTS 26