Victor Matfield says that the East Midlands derby clash at Welford Road are why he still enjoys playing top flight rugby.
The Saints and Tigers served up another classic encounter in front of a modern-day record crowd at Welford Road which went down to the final kick of the game.
That the contest became so compelling was the character shown by the Saints in dragging themselves back into the game after conceding three tries and 21 points in the opening quarter.
Teimana Harrison and George North scored in the minutes either side of half-time, with Jamie Gibson showing great awareness to power over for try number three with 15 minutes to play. Stephen Myler’s late penalty tied things up, only for Leicester to be awarded a penalty in the final play of the game and the win that came with it.
Throw in a disallowed try that will be discussed in the days, weeks and months to come in the pubs across the East Midlands, and you had one of the matches of the Aviva Premiership season.
“Games like this are why people play this game,” Matfield told SaintsTV. “All of the supporters and the players will be proud of the effort out there.
“The team showed great character to come back from 21-nil down; there’s not a lot of teams that will do that away from home. Some of the guys really played well and it was a pity we couldn’t pull it off at the end.
“We thought we had them in the second half. The maul started to work, the lineout functioned well and we started to put them under pressure. Our defence as well was hitting them behind the advantage line.”
The Saints have eight days to pull themselves together before they face Glasgow in the European Rugby Champions Cup. It’s a match that could define the campaigns of both clubs, something that Matfield is aware of.
“We need to win both the next two games, and it’s a big game against Glasgow,” he added. “We need to focus on that and get the win we want.”