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Page last updated at 18:44 GMT, Saturday, 10 January 2009

Northampton 17-13 Leicester

Northampton (10) 17
Tries: Diggin 2, Foden Con: Myler

Leicester (6) 13
Try: Flood Con: Flood Pens: Flood 2

Paul Diggin dives over for his first try on Saturday
Diggin produced a fine display and was rewarded with two tries

Northampton claimed the East Midlands bragging rights as they beat neighbours Leicester at Franklin's Gardens.

The Saints dominated the opening quarter and took the lead through two tries from local boy Paul Diggin.

But Stephen Myler missed five kicks at goal and two Toby Flood penalties saw the Tigers trail 10-6 at the break.

Ben Foden claimed Northampton's third try, with Myler finally landing a conversion, and Flood's converted try was too little for the Tigers.

Matches between the two east Midlands sides are always passionate affairs and Saturday's encounter at a sold-out Franklin's Gardens - the only Premiership match to survive the big freeze - lived up to the billing.

Myler went into the game with the second best goal-kicking percentage in the Premiership - 75% - behind the injured Jonny Wilkinson but he had left his kicking boots at home.

He struggled to find the target with a couple of early long-range penalties as the Saints otherwise started in fine style.

The hosts finally took the lead after 13 minutes when they ran a loop in midfield, full-back Foden found space out wide and Diggin, who learned his rugby with Northampton Boys Brigade Old Boys RFC, was on hand to dive over in the corner.


The second try once again saw Saints quickly recycle possession, with Myler heavily involved, and when he dummied and made a half break just inside the Leicester 22, Diggin was again in support to go over.

Myler missed both conversions and five minutes after Diggin's second score the Tigers trimmed the gap to 10-3 as Flood popped over a penalty from right in front after a couple of rumbustuous carries from Rabeni.

Myler then made it a nap-hand of missed kicks for the hosts and Flood added a second simple penalty to make it 10-6 at the break - a scoreline that did Northampton's performance scant justice.

A fine match continued to fizz after the break and Northampton scored their third try after Diggin countered from his own half and some well-timed passing enabled the in-form Foden to slice through to score from 30 metres.

Myler landed the conversion - to massive cheers from the raucous home crowd - from right in front of the posts to give Northampton a 17-6 lead.

Leicester hit back on the hour through Flood's try after a quick tap penalty from Julien Dupuy, with Flood adding the extras himself, but they lost Dupuy to injury in the process after a dubious tackle from Dylan Hartley.

Leicester finished strongly, with Julian White demolishing the Northampton scrum at will, but Northampton held on for their fifth Premiership victory of the season.

Northampton coach Jim Mallinder (on full-back Ben Foden's chances of being named in Martin Johnson's England Six Nations squad on Wednesday):

"He backed up last week's performance. It was a fantastic performance and then he has the ability to switch to scrum-half when Lee Dickson got a little bit of cramp near the end.

"He picks lines really well, he's got pace and he's got strength as well. He's got the ability to fend off that first tackler and stay on his feet and has a good kicking game as well.

"I don't know what Martin Johnson is looking at but I think he's got to come into his consideration."

Leicester stand-in coach Richard Cockerill:

"We didn't control the ball, we turned it over too much and we had to ride the storm in the first 25 minutes but we just couldn't build enough pressure.

"Saints took the game to us, they ran very hard and three tries to one, you can't hide from that fact.

"If they had kicked their penalties and conversions they might have been out of sight by half-time. You have to take your hat off to the way they played."

Northampton: Foden; Diggin, Clarke, Downey, Lamont; Myler, Dickens; Smith, Hartley, Murray, Fernandez Lobbe, Kruger, Easter, S Gray, Hopley.

Replacements: Mayor for Downey (77), Reihana for Dickens (71), Tonga'uiha for Smith (53).

Not Used: Shields, Day, Lawes, Spencer.

Leicester: G Murphy; J Murphy, Rabeni, Mauger, Smith; Flood, Dupuy; Stankovich, Chuter, White, Wentzel, Kay, Croft, Herring, B Deacon.

Replacements: Hamilton for J Murphy (41), B Youngs for Dupuy (61), Castrogiovanni for Stankovich (56), Corry for Wentzel (56), Newby for Herring (11).

Not Used: Kayser, Vesty.

Att: 13,582

Ref: Wayne Barnes (England).

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see also
Northampton 30-8 Bristol
03 Jan 09 |  English
Leicester 24-22 Bath
04 Jan 09 |  English

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