Ford misfires before Tigers roar to derby win

Leicester 16 Northampton 12

welford road

The annals of this Midlands rivalry go back to 1880, but yesterday's encounter will not rank high among them. Ironic, therefore, that Leicester enjoyed their first capacity crowd of the season, a splendid day in late autumn and, at the end of it all, the satisfaction of victory.

This is, of course, the first game in the domestic programme affected by international calls and England's management will be relieved that Ben Youngs came through the 80 minutes unscathed and ready to be involved against Fiji next Saturday. But that should not account for the chapter of errors, forced and unforced, which blighted the game.

The biggest question for Leicester, after forcing their way back into the top four of the Aviva Premiership, is managing the development of one of their bright young jewels, George Ford. The sharp intake of massed Leicester breath as Ford sent a series of eminently kickable penalties wide of the posts was a reminder of the expectation on the 19-year-old's slim shoulders.

Three went adrift in the first half, two more in the second as well as a couple of touch finders; had Ford kicked his goals, Leicester would have enjoyed the cushion of a comfortable lead rather than living on their nerves in the last quarter. "George could become a world-class player but he's 19 and this was a learning experience for him," Richard Cockerill, Leicester's director of rugby, said in a stout defence of the teenager. "We will let him develop at his own pace. He's got a great rugby brain. There won't be anyone more disappointed than George."

The first of Ford's missed goals came moments after he had been flattened by Samu Manoa, who has a six-stone advantage in size. Manoa helped Northampton to an advantage in the rolling mauls, traditionally a Leicester speciality, but it was no consolation as his side slipped to their third successive premiership defeat.

Jim Mallinder, Northampton's director of rugby, was philosophical: "We stopped their attacking game but we didn't get as much momentum as we would have liked," he said, though Northampton enjoyed an advantage at the lineout despite the excellence of Graham Kitchener, the Leicester lock. There was also an effective return by Calum Clark, an England squad flanker until his 32-week suspension following an unpleasant incident with Rob Hawkins in last March's LV Cup final against Leicester.

Indeed, Northampton took a 6-0 lead in the opening quarter before Leicester took over everywhere except on the scoreboard. They dominated possession, their scrum recovered from an uncertain start but it was deep into time added on for injuries at the end of the first half before Ford kicked the goal that levelled matters.

Within two minutes after the interval, Leicester led with the game's only try. The replacement of Scott Hamilton by Vereniki Goneva may have been enforced by injury but the Fijian made an instant impact: playing with greater direction, Leicester forced a lineout in Northampton's 22 and, a couple of phases later, Ford's inside pass found Goneva and Matt Smith, in support, stretched over for the try.

Northampton were fortunate to retain a full complement as long as they did: another referee might have given a yellow card to Mike Haywood – an increasingly effective replacement at hooker for the injured Dylan Hartley – for his clumsy challenge on a mid-air Geordan Murphy. As it was, they ended with 14 men after Ryan Lamb was sent to the sin bin for obstruction on Anthony Allen, when they had every chance of success after Lamb added two more penalties to his first-half brace. It was Murphy who drew Greg Garner's attention to Lamb's offence but whether this is what the new protocols on the use of TV evidence were designed for remains open to debate.

Leicester G Murphy (captain); S Hamilton (V Goneva, 41), M Smith, A Allen, N Morris; G Ford, B Youngs; M Ayerza, G Chuter, M Castrogiovanni, L Deacon (E Slater, 34), G Kitchener, S Mafi, R Thorpe, J Salvi.

Northampton T May; K Pisi (V Artemyev, 54), G Pisi, D Waldouck, J Elliott (L Burrell, 74); R Lamb (sin bin 74), M Roberts; S Tonga'uiha (A Waller, 63), M Haywood, B Mujati (P Doran-Jones, 60), S Manoa, M Sorenson, C Clark, G J van Velze (R Oakley, 71), P Dowson (captain).

Referee G Garner (Warwickshire).

Attendance 24,000.

Leicester

Try: Smith

Cons: Ford

Pens: Ford 3

Northampton

Pens: Lamb 4

Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone