Summer signings get off to winning start as Wanderers beat Tigers
The Wanderers held on to ensure their title defence started with a gritty 19-18 win against Leicester Tigers at Loughborough University.
Summer signings Taqele Naiyaravoro, Will Davis, Andy Symons and Charlie Davies all started in the victory.Prop Davis wrote his name on the scoresheet, along with full-back Harry Mallinder and hooker Mike Haywood.James Grayson notched two conversions that eventually proved crucial as Tigers mounted a late comeback that just fell short.The main story from a Northampton perspective was crucial game time for several potential first-team stars.Naiyaravoro, who only arrived late last week, was in from the off and made a couple of first-half carries to show his mettle.But the night really belonged to the visiting forwards, who continually cranked up the heat, particularly during the end of the first half, to help their team over the line.It hadn't started well for the Wanderers as one of the first acts for Naiyaravoro was to get on the wrong side of the referee, being penalised for dissent. Tigers kicked to the corner and went on the attack, piecing together a move that put the Wanderers under pressure.Eventually, Tigers earned a penalty and fly-half Joe Ford kicked it to give his team the lead.Ford doubled the margin from another penalty, earned at the breakdown, as the Wanderers continued to offend.But the away side finally got into their stride, putting Tigers on the back foot thanks to strong carries from new boys Davis and Symons.Tigers infringed, but Grayson missed from the tee.However, it wasn't too long before the Wanderers got on the scoreboard as Mitch Eadie made a quick, clever break from a ruck and the ball was recycled for Mallinder to score.Grayson missed the conversion but the Wanderers did go in front before the break.Tigers continually offended and lock Sam Lewis was sent to the sin bin.The Wanderers scored almost immediately as Davis forced his way over the line. Grayson converted to make it 12-6 to the men in white and maroon at half-time.And the lead was quickly extended after the interval as a Grayson kick forced Tigers to concede a penalty and after the ball was booted to the corner, hooker Haywood rumbled over for the try.Grayson converted before Tigers finally got some possession, putting a spell of concerted pressure on the Wanderers line.And Tigers eventually got the try they wanted as replacement prop Osman Dimen delivered a score.It was starting to shape up into a frantic finale and nerves were jangling in the Wanderers camp when George Worth found a gap and flew through it to score.Ford converted to cut the gap to just a single point with seven minutes to go But Tigers couldn't find any further points as the Wanderers stood tall to record a valiant victory.
Leicester Tigers: Aspland-Robinson; Asiedu, Smith (c), Worth, Holmes; J Ford, White; Gigena, Kerr, Heyes; Jordan, Lewis; Smith, Gough, Tuilagi.Replacements: Mahoney, Lines, Dimen, Hutchinson, Gray, Brazier, Flinn, Neal.Wanderers: Mallinder (c); Naiyaravoro (Furbank 61), Dingwall, Symons, Worley; Grayson, Davies (Tupai 47); Davis (King 71), Haywood (Gray 61), Ford-Robinson (Alexis 71); Taylor (Betteridge 71), Onojaife; Wallace (Newman 63), Ryan, Eadie.