Northampton Saints 16 Leicester Tigers 22 match report: Saints in bite storm after defeat

Leicester’s Tom Youngs alleges he was bitten after a scrum collapsed, sparking an inquiry

Franklin's Gardens

The combustible recent history of this derby fixture took its latest unpredictable lurch as Northampton were beaten by their greatest rivals and nearest challengers in the fight for Premiership play-off places.

Saints’ totemic captain, the England hooker Dylan Hartley, was forced off the field before half-time with a painful injury to his right shoulder that was self-inflicted as he attempted a headlong clear-out tackle on Leicester’s flanker Jamie Gibson. And Hartley was also embroiled in a row over an incident of biting alleged by his opposite number, and England team-mate, Leicester’s Tom Youngs.

If any further action is be taken over the alleged bite, which a clearly angry Youngs brought to the attention of the referee Wayne Barnes after a scrum in the 15th minute collapsed into a pile-up of forwards grappling on the ground, it will come from the match citing commissioner, Wade Dooley. Video replays studied on the spot by Barnes and his television match official Trevor Fisher showed “nothing clear and obvious”, as they put it, so it will be left to Dooley, the towering former police officer and England lock forward, to unravel the mystery wrapped up in Leicester’s 10th consecutive match unbeaten against their East Midlands neighbours dating back to September 2010.

Northampton were leading 3-0 through a penalty by Will Hooley – the 20-year-old fly-half deputising for the injured Steve Myler – when Northampton’s Tom Wood knocked on to concede a scrum seven metres from the home goalline. Everyone present had memories of Youngs, Hartley and Barnes being pivotal characters in the drama of the Premiership final at Twickenham 10 months ago, when Hartley was sent off and banned for 11 weeks for verbally abusing Barnes, though Hartley argued that his comment had been aimed at Youngs. The last three years have also seen Northampton’s Calum Clark banned for breaking the arm of Leicester’s hooker Rob Hawkins in the 2012 LV Cup final, and punch-ups in two league meetings.

This time the front rows over- balanced with the Northampton front rowers Hartley and Salesi Ma’afu on top of Youngs. But after the inconclusive replays – while Hartley was overheard on TV telling Barnes “you can’t have people throwing allegations around like that” – play continued without penalty. Hartley had earlier appeared to be slapped in the face by Leicester’s loosehead Logo Mulipola. There appeared to be blood on Youngs’ face and shorts. And Ma’afu failed to last the first half too, limping off.

Leicester’s director of rugby Richard Cockerill, mindful perhaps that these teams looked destined to clash again in the play-off semi-finals – Saints, in second place, are ahead of Tigers by seven points and must still travel to Saracens and Bath – chose his words carefully. “Tom says he was bitten on the hand,” said Cockerill. “By whom, he didn’t elaborate.” Cockerill’s Northampton counterpart Jim Mallinder said: “I don’t think there’s anything in it, I’d be surprised [if there was].”

Leicester had a 13-8 lead by half-time after the repeat scrum following the biting allegation ended with Tom Youngs’ scrum-half brother Ben giving a long scoring pass to Anthony Allen, aided at the right corner by George North’s misjudgement flying out of defence. Owen Williams’ conversion and subsequent two penalties began an unbroken sequence of successful goal-kicks for the Leicester fly-half, in marked contrast to Hooley, who missed a 25-metre penalty head on to the posts and the conversion of a try direct from a line-out drive by Kahn Fotuali’i in the 39th minute.

With Mulipola carrying eye-catchingly, there were only groans for Hooley’s tendency to kick, even from first-phase, presumably under orders. After his third missed goal attempt – a penalty in the 53rd minute from the 10-metre line – he was replaced by James Wilson, with Fotuali’i moving to fly-half. Williams relentlessly hit the target with the Welsh Tiger’s additional successful after 56, 62 and 64 minutes, with one for Saints in between by Wilson .

So it was 22-11 to Leicester with 15 minutes remaining, as they chased the fillip of victory before going to Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup next Saturday. There was an expert disruption of a Northampton line-out drive and a turnover that had Cockerill – who revealed in midweek he had turned down an approach to coach Clermont - screaming “get in there”. There were yellow cards to Ben Youngs and Niki Goneva, and a try wide out for Northampton’s prop Ethan Waller, as 15 men played 13. And another row right at the end, as Manu Tuilagi scrambled a North grubber into touch.

If you have a ticket for Northampton versus Leicester in the near future, bring a hard hat.

Line-ups:

Northampton Saints: B Foden; J Elliott (L Dickson, 65), G Pisi (K Pisi, 69), L Burrell, G North; W Hooley (J Wilson, 56), K Fotuali’i; A Waller (E Waller, 62), D Hartley (capt, M Haywood, 33), S Ma’afu (T Mercey, 38), C Lawes, C Day, C Clark (GJ van Velze, 66), P Dowson, T Wood.

Leicester Tigers: S Hamilton; N Goneva, M Tuilagi, A Allen (T Flood, 39-41), A Thompstone (S Harrison, 76); O Williams (Flood 69), B Youngs; M Ayerza, T Youngs (R Hawkins, 69), L Mulipola (F Balmain, 74), L Deacon (G Kitchener, 62), E Slater (capt), J Gibson, J Salvi, J Crane.

Referee: W Barnes (London).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
news
Life and Style
love + sex
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United 1 player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
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

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot