Leicester Tigers 21 Northampton Saints 27: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Cobus Reinach roars as Saints celebrate at Welford Road (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Cobus Reinach roars as Saints celebrate at Welford Road (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Long after the final whistle sounded at Welford Road, Oh When the Saints echoed around the emptying ground.

A group of supporters proudly sporting the black, green and gold stood in unison and belted out their club song.

And how they had earned the right to sing their hearts out on the Crumbie Terrace.

Because their players had played their hearts out on the pitch.

But this time at Welford Road, Saints didn't just walk away with a feeling of pride.

This time, they also walked away with a win.

Stephen Myler is all smiles after kicking Saints to victory

Stephen Myler is all smiles after kicking Saints to victory

A precious win.

A win they had waited for, for so long. Eleven years, to be precise.

A league double against Leicester that they had barely dreamed possible. A first since the 2003/04 season, to be precise.

This win came despite a laundry list of injuries.

Ben Foden started the scoring

Ben Foden started the scoring

This win came despite the Tigers having won five successive games coming into the derby.

This win came despite Saints having lost five successive games coming into the derby.

And this win came despite Saints having suffered a shattering nine-try evisceration at home to Saracens just seven days earlier.

How could a Saints squad who have enjoyed so much misery this season enjoy such elation at a ground where heartache has become the norm?

Jim Mallinder was working as a pundit for BT Sport and saw his old club claim a long overdue win at Welford Road

Jim Mallinder was working as a pundit for BT Sport and saw his old club claim a long overdue win at Welford Road

How could a Saints side containing some players who had barely played for months beat a Tigers team that was sharpening its sights on the play-offs?

It did not seem possible.

Yet, once again, this club, this crazy, great club pulled a win from the flames.

There have been so many occasions in years gone by where Saints have achieved the unthinkable.

At Ulster, at Leinster, at Saracens in a Premiership semi-final, the list goes on.

Saints have become masters at achieving the near-impossible.

Saints supporters were the ones celebrating

Saints supporters were the ones celebrating

But this squad didn't seem capable.

They have suffered so often this season and even when they have managed to show their teeth, they have often been thwarted.

The last time they had been leading at half-time, at Exeter on February 24, defeat was eventually snatched from the jaws of victory.

And it seemed like that might happen again as Leicester poured forward in the second period.

But Saints showed incredible character, time and again.

They won key penalties at key moments, with young prop Ehren Painter earning a couple of his own in a gargantuan 14-minute cameo.

But this wasn't just about him.

This was about every player who wore a Saints shirt on Saturday, April 14 - the day when Tiger Roll won the Grand National and Northampton showed their stamina to roll over the Tigers at Welford Road.

This win was for every time the Tigers have stamped their feet and overcome Saints at Welford Road.

It can't make up for some of the sore defeats Saints have suffered in games that could have gone a long way to winning them more trophies.

And it won't make up for the hurt Jim Mallinder endured on Leicester soil, with the director of rugby probably ruing his luck.

Mallinder took over at Saints in the summer of 2007 and left back in December.

He never got to taste glory at Welford Road, with Northampton winning there a few months before he assumed control and a few months after he relinquished it.

But you can bet Mallinder will still have been smiling while watching his old club claim a long overdue victory against their local rivals.

Saints may not have won the league on this day.

They may not even have moved up a place in the Aviva Premiership table.

But the reason those away supporters sang so loudly and proudly at the end of the game is because they have finally seen a Saints win at Welford Road.

And that is certainly a reason to celebrate.

How they rated...

AHSEE TUALA

Scored what proved to be a decisive try, finishing superbly as he sidestepped his way past Tigers to a memorable moment... 8

BEN FODEN

Full of fire and desire in what could be his final Saints outing at Welford Road. He scored early on and went on to make it a day to remember... 8

ROB HORNE

Was so unlucky as he was knocked out during a collision while chasing the kick-off, just 12 seconds into the match. Was taken to hospital and reported to be 'conscious and talking'.

PIERS FRANCIS

A big defensive display from the centre, who made some key tackles at key times when it looked like Tigers would get away from Saints... 7

GEORGE NORTH

Always looked to get in the game and didn't shy away from the physical battle in attack and defence... 7

STEPHEN MYLER

Kicked everything that came his way, keeping cool on an afternoon when he once again outshone England's George Ford... 8

COBUS REINACH

The scrum-half saw an early box kick charged down for a Tigers try, but he more than made amends by scoring one of his own and superbly setting up Tuala's effort... 9

CAMPESE MA'AFU

The prop loves a derby-day scrap and he was up for this, competing well around the park and in the scrum... 7

MIKE HAYWOOD

Was unfortunate to suffer concussion during the second half but had put in a fine shift up to that point and overshadowed Tigers hooker Tom Youngs... 8

PAUL HILL - CHRON STAR MAN

You wouldn't have known he hadn't started a Saints game since November 4 as he produced a gargantuan display, carrying superbly and defending heroically... 9

API RATUNIYARAWA

What a display from the Fijian lock, who was relentless in his desire to put Tigers under pressure with big hits and even more powerful carries... 9

JAMES CRAIG

Had only made one appearance this season before starting at Welford Road, but he showed no signs of rustiness as he got stuck in and drove his team to victory... 9

JAMIE GIBSON

Yet another all-action performance from one of Saints' stand-out contenders for the player of the season prize. A satisfying win against his former club... 9

TEIMANA HARRISON

A sensational showing that saw him put his body on the line over and over again as well as encompassing a superb assist for Reinach's score... 9

MITCH EADIE

Took his chance with both hands as he made plenty of metres for his side, showing great determination and strength... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

LUTHER BURRELL (for Horne 1)

Was thrust into action earlier than expected, but did not have any issues after returning from injury as he delivered a dominant midfield display... 8

ALEX WALLER (for Ma'afu 52)

An eventful return to action for the prop as he won a penalty against the head at his first scrum, saw yellow and then returned to play a part in the heroic last-gasp defending... 7