Nadolo doubles up as Saints suffer derby-day defeat at Leicester Tigers

Nemani Nadolo once again helped to put Saints to the sword as he delivered a first-half double in Leicester Tigers' 35-20 win at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Friday night.

By Tom Vickers
Friday, 11th February 2022, 9:39 pm
Updated Friday, 11th February 2022, 9:40 pm
Nemani Nadolo tormented Saints yet again
Nemani Nadolo tormented Saints yet again

Saints had won on four of their previous five visits to the ground, but they never looked likely to continue that fine record as Tigers strengthened their grip on top spot in the Gallagher Premiership.

Alex Mitchell had scored a fine try to put Chris Boyd's side in front, but Leicester responded in fine fashion as Nadolo scored twice and Julian Montoya also went over.

Courtnall Skosan added to Mitchell's earlier effort for Saints and George Furbank was denied a try just before the break by a saving tackle from Chris Ashton.

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A third score ahead of the second half would have given Saints real hope, but any they had left was soon extinguished as Tigers pressed on after the restart.

Bryce Hegarty went over to bag their bonus-point effort and the gap continued to grow as Saints struggled to get in the ascendancy.

Karl Wilkins did manage to grab his first Saints try and Ashton was sin-binned on his Tigers debut, but there was no late away surge as the hosts saw the game out.

Saints had gone to Leicester boasting a strong recent record in enemy territory and the away side got off to a strong start thanks to the speed and footwork of Mitchell.

After some good play from Paul Hill, Mitchell picked the ball up and delivered a superb step to find his way over the line.

Furbank sent the conversion to the left of the posts and Tigers were soon finding their feet, delivering some dominant carries in the Saints 22.

Eventually, Nadolo, Saints' traditional tormentor-in-chief, was given an easy run-in under the posts, and Freddie Burns converted to give the hosts the lead.

Saints had been shipping plenty of penalties early on, and Tigers stretched their lead as Burns slotted a kick from distance.

Tigers were being invited to constantly apply pressure, with Saints' passing accuracy inside their own half leaving a lot to be desired.

It allowed Tigers to keep their foot on the gas, and Nadolo was having his traditional field day against Saints.

After some tidy Tigers handling, the powerhouse wing got hold of the ball and proved far too strong as he forced his way over.

Burns converted to extend the home lead to 12 points, and it was already looking like Saints would have to scale a mountain.

Ashton came on for his Leicester debut as Burns headed off for a HIA, and while the fly-half was off the field, full-back Hegarty missed a penalty.

Saints just could not get out of their own half and hooker Montoya soon added to their misery as he went over from a big maul.

Hegarty missed the simple conversion but the gap was now 17 points and Saints were well and truly staring down the barrel.

Out of nowhere though, the away side struck, piecing together a superb breakway score that saw Rory Hutchinson glide around Nadolo before setting up Skosan for the finish.

Furbank missed the conversion but he soon thought he had scored in the corner as Saints put together another slick move.

However, the TMO was called into action and Furbank was just about put in touch by Ashton's saving tackle, meaning Tigers escaped.

But Harry Wells was soon heading to the sin bin for a late, dangerous tackle on Ollie Sleightholme, giving Saints the chance to go for the corner.

But they knocked the ball on in the Tigers 22 and the gap remained 12 points at the break.

Burns soon stretched the lead to 15 with a successful penalty, but Furbank cancelled that out after Tigers were caught offside.

Furbank soon had to make a huge tackle on Burns, stopping the Tigers fly-half on his way to the line and forcing a knock-on in the process.

But Burns was adding the extras to a fourth Tigers try on 59 minutes as Hegarty finished in fine fashion after a good move from the hosts.

Burns notched a penalty 15 minutes from time as his good night continued, but Saints still had some fuel in the tank as they tried to notch a third try.

Eventually, Karl Wilkins forced his way over, and Ashton was sin-binned in the process to leave Saints playing against 14 men for the final eight minutes.

Furbank converted and the away side were seeking a late try bonus point as they sought to take something from the game.

But Tigers simply turned the screw once again and they were the side who looked more likely to add to their tally as the game reached its conclusion.

Leicester Tigers: Hegarty; Potter, Porter (Ashton 68), Kelly, Nadolo (Scott 57); Burns, Wigglesworth (van Poortvliet 63); Whitcombe (van Wyk 68), Montoya (Clare 63), Cole (Leatigaga 45); Wells, Green (Snyman 59); Liebenberg (c) (Martin 67), Reffell, Wiese.

Saints: Tuala (Proctor 40); Sleightholme, Dingwall (c), Hutchinson, Skosan; Furbank, Mitchell (James 66); Waller (Iyogun 56), Matavesi (Haywood 66), Hill (Carey 70); Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa (Coles 66); Wood (Wilkins 40), Harrison, Augustus.

Referee: Matthew Carley

Attendance: 23,100