Director of rugby Chris Boyd was quick to dedicate Northampton Saints’ stunning 29-15 East Midlands derby triumph over Leicester Tigers to Rob Horne.
The men in Black, Green and Gold ran riot at Welford Road on Friday evening, with a Cobus Reinach try and Tom Collins’ double putting them 29-3 ahead before the hosts closed the gap with two consolation scores late in the game.
It was the second victory on Tigers soil in as many seasons for Northampton, but Boyd insisted it was all about regaining some pride after a frustrating loss to Leicester last October.
“There was a little extra bird on the shoulder in this game for Rob Horne.”Chris Boyd
That game at Twickenham was played in honour of former Saints centre Horne, and with his side failing to deliver the goods that day, Boyd admitted that irritation had lingered.
“We set up the Rob Horne match against Leicester at Twickenham and we were terribly disappointed with the way we played,” he said.
“We disrespected that occasion. This fixture last season was when Rob had his career-ending injury, so there was a little extra bird on the shoulder this time for him.
“It feels good to right that wrong, there was certainly some extra motivation to do that.
“I really enjoyed the Saints supporters singing there at the end and it certainly struck me how much passion there was in that.
“It feels magnificent to perform for them; when you’ve been coaching long enough you know you’ve got to enjoy these moments.”
Saints entered the contest off the back of claiming their first piece of senior silverware in five years last time out, but Leicester welcomed five England internationals back into their ranks for what had promised to be a traditionally attritional encounter.
In reality though it was anything but, with Northampton dominant all over the field during a first half that was arguably the best of Boyd’s tenure so far.
And with the voices of Saints supporters ringing around Welford Road at the final whistle, the 60-year-old Kiwi expects the moment to stand out in years to come.
He added: “It's my first experience of Welford Road and it's a very memorable one.
“It's a good victory and we'll enjoy it, but a good performance is even more enjoyable; for 60 minutes we were pretty tidy.
“They needed the points like we did and after winning the Premiership Rugby Cup last weekend, it's been a good few days for us.
“I knew we would have to play really well to beat them because on paper they're a really good side.
“I was genuinely nervous but when we came out and warmed up, we had a real edge.
“It’s probably the best 40 minutes we’ve played since I’ve been here; really clinical, really accurate, and we made good decisions playing with a high tempo and pace.
“But that first 40 minutes was a result of what happened in the 20 minutes before the start of the game. It was really great to see.”