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Tigers 15 – 29 Saints: Irresistible Northampton stun East Midlands rivals

Tom Collins’ two first-half tries paved the way for a famous Northampton Saints victory at Welford Road, as the men in Black, Green and Gold downed Leicester Tigers 29-15.

For the second time in as many weeks a trio of first-half tries gave Chris Boyd’s men a huge first-half advantage, with Cobus Reinach first crossing before Collins’ double made it 20-3 at the interval.

Three Dan Biggar penalties before the hour mark put Saints out of sight, and although Tigers responded with two scores from George Ford and Tom Youngs, it was the voices of Saints’ ecstatic supporters that rang out at the final whistle.

Saints applied the early pressure, with Reinach pouncing on an untidy Youngs lineout and hammering the ball deep into Tigers territory, before Jamie Gibson also made a statement of intent by charging down Ben Youngs’ clearing kick.

Northampton looked irresistible working the ball from one wing to the other and back again, with Collins bursting into space inside his own half and passing several Leicester defenders before finding Reinach on his shoulder to finish off the remarkable score.

Biggar’s conversion attempt just slipped outside of the left post, but while Tigers got plenty of possession in the minutes that followed, Saints defended resolutely – with Reinach and Biggar combining to make a try-saving tackle on Sam Aspland-Robinson in the right corner.

Ahsee Tuala intercepted Kyle Eastmond to save another certain score, but with Piers Francis penalised for offside the hosts finally settled for three points – George Ford knocking the resulting kick through the uprights.

Rory Hutchinson then found a gap, hot-stepping his way through Guy Thompson’s tackle, but the in-form centre could not find a final pass and Leicester were able to clear.

With 30 minutes on the clock Tigers flanker Mike Williams saw yellow for a cynically stopping a Saints counter-attack following Heinz Brüssow’s rampaging run up the middle, and Biggar made it 8-3 from the resulting penalty.

Northampton looked lethal every time they got the ball in hand, and quick as a flash they struck again with superb footwork from Hutchinson unlocking the defence and Collins was on his shoulder to speed over the whitewash just right of the posts.

Saints were running riot and phase after phase the visitors wore down the Tigers defence, with Hutchinson again at the centre of things.

The centre’s long pass released Taqele Naiyaravoro who drew two defenders and offloaded inside for Collins to score his second and take the scoreline to 20-3 at half-time.

An early penalty for Biggar extended the advantage further, and Tigers’ woes continued with Dan Cole also heading to the sin bin shortly after for slapping the ball out of the hands of Reinach at the base – with Saints again settling for points in front of the posts.

The metronomic Northampton fly-half added yet another penalty after 54 minutes to make it 29-3, and Biggar thought he had added a try just before the hour mark, but it was chalked off by the TMO for a forward pass in the build-up.

Tigers finally bit back as George Ford sneaked through the defensive line to score and convert his own try with 12 minutes remaining, before Youngs grounded at the back of a lineout drive to further reduce the gap.

But Saints controlled proceedings in the closing minutes, exiting well and ensuring Leicester were not able to get within striking distance to record a famous win at Welford Road – for the second time is as many seasons.

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