Premiership: Leicester Tigers 18-23 Northampton - Saints hang on to win derby

Namani Nadolo scores for Leicester
Namani Nadolo scored two tries on his return from injury having had been out for almost two months
Gallagher Premiership
Leicester: (10) 18
Tries: Nadolo 2 Con: Ford Pens: Ford 2
Northampton: (15) 23
Tries: Ribbans, Hutchinson, Matavesi Con: Biggar Pens: Biggar 2

Northampton held on to win the only East Midlands derby of the season as they beat Leicester 23-18.

David Ribbans and Rory Hutchinson tries put Saints nine points up early on.

Tigers had Alex Scott sin-binned after 35 minutes, but two minutes later Nemani Nadolo crashed over for his side's first try of the afternoon.

Sam Matavesi increased the lead for Saints after Harry Wells' yellow card before Nadolo scored a second try to set up a tense finish.

Saints remain in fifth place in the Premiership while Tigers stay eighth.

Northampton were dealt a triple blow before the game started when Teimana Harrison, Ehren Painter and Ollie Sleightholme all withdrew shortly before kick-off due to injury.

But they impressed in the opening stages and were rewarded when Ribbans put the gloss on a 14-phase move from close range before Hutchinson read George Ford's pass to Kini Murimurivalu to canter in under the posts with just a Ford penalty to show for Leicester.

Tigers were reduced to 14 men when Matt Scott was sin-binned for a high hit on Shaun Adendorff, but despite being short-handed early replacement Nadolo went over after pressure on the Saints line before Dan Biggar kicked a penalty for the visitors just before the break.

Biggar put over another penalty just after the restart and Leicester were again reduced to 14 when Wells was sin-binned for a late hit on Biggar.

With the extra man, Matavesi took advantage as he went over after some quick passing from a line-out 10 metres out, but with 17 minutes left Nadolo went over in the left corner after Jack van Poortvliet's line break had set up good field position and momentum for the Tigers.

Tigers tried in vain to get a winning score as Saints held on after JJ Tonks was sin-binned with six minutes left - with the likes of Mikey Haywood and Ahsee Tuala put in some great work close to their own line.

The match was the first East Midlands derby since last September after the first game between the sides at Franklin's Gardens in January was cancelled due to positive Covid-19 tests at Saints.

Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick told BBC Radio Leicester:

"I think when you turn over the ball eight times in the opposition 22 and lose by five points it tells you there's an opportunity there to win a game and we failed to.

"We've got to make sure when we get to these tight games we come away with wins.

"It's two weeks running now where we've got very tight results and we need to make sure we turn those into wins, and that's part of the evolution of this team."

Northampton Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd told BBC Radio Northampton:

"Today was neither salubrious or terrible, but at the end of the day you don't grizzle about coming to Welford Road and getting four points do you?

"We should have probably had that game out of reach for Leicester sort of 15 or 20 minutes into the second half if we'd have just nailed one more try and kept pressure, but we got sucked into tossing the ball around.

"But it was a good gutsy effort at the end there."

Leicester: Steward; Van Wyk, Scott, Kelly, Murimurivalu; Ford, B Youngs; Genge, T Youngs (capt), Cole, Wells, Green, Liebenberg, Wallace, Wiese

Replacements: Clare, De Bruin, Heyes, Lavanini, Brink, Van Poortvliet, Henry, Nadolo

Northampton: Furbank; Proctor, Hutchinson, Francis, Freeman; Biggar, Mitchell; Waller (co-capt), Matavesi, Hill, Ribbans, Moon, Wood, Ludlam (co-capt), Adendorff

Replacements: Haywood, Auterac, Heffernan, Coles, Tonks, James, Tuala, Collins

Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU).

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