Saints suffer defeat in first game of 'Derby Day Double'

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There were no Mattioli Woods Welford Road heroics for Saints on Monday night as they suffered a 45-14 defeat in the first game of their ‘Derby Day Double’ against Leicester Tigers.

The black, green and gold, who won the Gallagher Premiership encounter at Tigers in gritty fashion back in January, saw the friendly fixture get away from them in the second period.

Tigers were 26-14 up at the break, with Saints scoring through Karl Wilkins and Craig Wright.

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But the home side pulled away in a second half that saw an abundance of changes to both teams, with Saints unable to add to their half-time tally.

James Grayson was on kicking duty for SaintsJames Grayson was on kicking duty for Saints
James Grayson was on kicking duty for Saints

Tigers had set the tone from the off with a big first scrum, winning a penalty that allowed them to kick to the corner.

The hosts then stayed patient as they applied pressure on the Saints line, and the score came from Tigers skipper-for-the-night and former Saints prop Francois van Wyk.

Charlie Atkinson added the extras and it was 7-0 inside the opening two minutes.

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Saints came close to an immediate response but they were held up over the line after a promising spell of possession in the home 22.

There was plenty of tempo from the away side as they continued to push, but Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi knocked on a few metres from the line to end another attack.

Tigers couldn't hold out much longer though as a Saints surge ended in Wilkins getting the ball down.

James Grayson converted to level the scores but Tigers were back in front when Atkinson danced through a couple of attempted tackles in front of the Saints posts.

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Atkinson added the conversion and Tigers were starting to get a grip on the game.

The home fly-half was trying to pull the strings and after he chipped ahead, Harry Simmons beat George Hendy to the bouncing ball, allowing Tigers to send Sean Jansen over in the corner.

Atkinson sent the conversion well wide and Saints responded quickly as flanker Wright dived over after Tigers were splintered by a lineout drive.

Grayson converted and the gap was just five points, with Saints threatening to go in front.

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Courtnall Skosan and Callum Braley led a breakaway, but Tigers scrambled well to stop the attack just outside their own 22.

Tigers almost snuck a try at the other end as Atkinson's kick ahead caused some panic, nearly allowing Joe Browning to get to the ball, but Saints just about grounded it first.

There was a score for the hosts soon after though as Kini Murimurivalu was sent through a gap, with Atkinson's conversion taking the score to 26-14 at half-time.

Tigers started the second half with a really high tempo and they notched a tidy try as a nicely-executed grubber kick landed in the path of Phil Cokanasiga.

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Atkinson added the extras again and Saints, who had withdrawn the likes of Callum Braley and Angus Scott-Young at the break, continued to make changes.

The black, green and gold pushed for their third try of the game but Tigers held them up over the line.

Saints kept coming and after a huge run from Tom Lockett and a lovely batted pass from Grayson, Tigers had to scramble to stop Jake Garside scoring in the corner.

The home side were soon working their way over at the other end as Hosea Saumaki battled his way through the Saints defence to dot down.

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Atkinson missed the conversion but he didn't have to wait long for another attempt as Hendy's pass was picked off by Browning on halfway and he raced home with ease.

Leicester Tigers: Murimurivalu; Browning, Cokanasiga, Woodward (Cusick 68), Simmons (Saumaki 36); Atkinson (Meredith 68), Edwards (Wolstenholme 50); van Wyk (c) (Richardson 50), Dolly (Vanes 50), Hurd (Hoyt 63); L Chessum, Carmichael (Koroiyadi 58); Carnduff, Ilione (Manz 48), Jansen.

Saints: Hendy; F Sleightholme (Arden 48), Litchfield (Kean 60), Thame, Skosan (Garside 48); J Grayson, Braley (c) (James 40 (Braley 60)); Hobbs-Awoyemi (Holsey 58), Haywood (Burns 55), Prowse (Dimen 65); Coles, Atuanya (Woolford 40); Wilkins (Rylands 63), Wright, Scott-Young (Lockett 40).

Referee: Sara Cox

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