Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
SaintsConference & EventsFoundationStore
News

MATCH REPORT Saints denied in Twickenham thriller

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

It's been a roller coaster season, but all of the emotions along the were seemingly crammed into an unbelievable clash at HQ.


The thrilling contest hinged on 60 absurd seconds of rugby on the stroke of half-time, where Dylan Hartley was red carded by referee Wayne Barnes.


The skipper's frustration was understandable after Saints misinterpreted a ruling that would have ended a half they dominated without leading. His means of venting them, however, were clearly deemed unacceptable and Tigers' three second half tries to Saints' two, allied with 17 points from the tee, were in the end more than enough.


Tigers had earlier lost their skipper too - Toby Flood forced off injured - but not before he had opened the scoring with a fifth minute penalty then played a big hand in the game's first try. After Vereniki Goneva unlocked spaces in the Saints defence, the Tigers skipper darted through and floated the killer pass to Niall Morris, who scampered over on the right.


Saints almost immediately responded, a switch play allowing Ben Foden to send Ken Pisi down the right touchline but Julian Salvi disrupted Lee Dickson's service and five metres out the chance ended with a knock on.


Not that the disappointment would last long - Stephen Myler crashing over on the opposite flank just moments later. The move owed much to Dickson's quick tap penalty and awareness and with Luther Burrell timing his pass well, the Saints fly half was in.


The contest was starting to break up, Tom Wood making a mess of Tigers' lineout ball and then nicking a turnover before Courtney Lawes ended England colleague Flood's afternoon with a duo of bone-shattering hits.


Not only was the Tigers skipper forced to withdraw - Ben Youngs missed a penalty in between and the second hit put Saints right back on the front foot. Soane Tonga'uiha was twice involved in a fast paced move as the Saints battered their way towards the Tigers line once more but desperate efforts from defenders in green repelled a duo of surges.


They would be rewarded with the next three points, Mat Tait finding space on the right and with acres of ground to eat up, Saints had little choice but to kill the move at the cost of George Ford's penalty.


Saints continued to look dangerous though and while a half chance went begging on the right, Leicester couldn't fully complete their clearance. With quick ball an overlap appeared and a smart offload from Jamie Elliott put Foden into Myler's corner. Graham Kitchener had other ideas though and a stunning cover tackle led to the TMO's verdit of no try - despite Foden's belief he had scored.


If that wasn't drama enough, the saga that would see Hartley sent from the field followed - Ford adding a further penalty to compound the blow - and Saints were left a man down chasing a 16-5 deficit.


With nothing to lose, the men in blue came out all guns blazing and having already stretched the Tigers a scintillating break ended with James Wilson putting Foden away, the 15 this time making double sure of the grounding.


Though they continued to play the more attractive rugby, defence was proving more challenging and Kitchener quickly made the most of Tigers' extra men to dummy and gallop through the Saints back line. They almost had a third, Ford's smart break not rewarded with a try, instead three points that took his side toward clear waters.


Saints continued to cause ripples behind their fierce rivals, however, Ben Foden tearing the Tigers back line apart with a 50-metre surge that would ultimately create Dickson's try beside the posts, Burrell also involved heavily. This time Myler's conversion was a formality and Saints were back within a score as the game returned to its breathless pace.


The stands were now providing a 15th man and though Saints were struggling in the scrum, they continued to take Tigers' line out apart. GJ van Velze and James Wilson were next to splinter Leicester defenders on halfway but with little end result their hopes continued to fade.


And when Manu Tuilagi broke an already depleted Saints line on halfway, the missing man showed through a lack of cover and the centre cruised home to finally end the contest in his side's favour.


Despite having emptied the bench there was collectively little left in the Saints tank - even if they continued to roll the dice from deep, now led by Ryan Lamb. A Ken interception was in turn re-intercepted by Steve Mafi and the Tongan gifted fellow islander Vereniki Goneva the simplest of scores.


With a minute to play, Tigers won another penalty and aware of the clock, Ford would use his full allocation of time to end the game with another three points and leave Saints heartbroken after another epic campaign.


TIMELINE

5mins TIGERS Pen Flood 3-0

8mins TIGERS Try Morris Con Flood 10-0

15mins SAINTS Try Myler 10-5

22mins TIGERS Miss pen B Youngs

32mins TIGERS Pen Ford 13-5

40mins TIGERS Miss pen Ford

40mins SAINTS Red Hartley

40mins TIGERS Pen Ford 16-5

HALF-TIME TIGERS 16 SAINTS 5

44mins SAINTS Try Foden 16-10

48mins TIGERS Try Kitchener 21-10

55mins TIGERS Pen Ford 24-10

57mins SAINTS Try Dickson Con Myler 24-17

67mins TIGERS Try Tuilagi 29-17

75mins TIGERS Try Goneva 34-17

80mins TIGERS Pen Ford 37-17

FULL-TIME TIGERS 34 SAINTS 17