Leicester captain Geordan Murphy is expecting fireworks in this weekend’s local derby with Northampton Saints. Both sides seem to be coming into good form after slow starts to their campaign with the Tigers having beaten Gloucester at Kingsholm and the Saints crushing Saracens last weekend.
Leicester currently on a six game unbeaten run will be looking to extend their run against rivals Northampton and Murphy knows what to expect. He realises that “Saints struggled, like us, when the World Cup was on. But they have their full contingent back and are a different side now”. Both sides rely heavily on their internationals and seemed out of their depth in the early stages of the season, with pundit Dewi Morris tipping the Tigers for a relegation battle this season. But since the return of the World Cup players the Tigers have looked set for a push for the play offs, as have the Saints. Both will be looking to continue their current momentum and whoever comes out on top in this clash will gain a huge boost as the season reaches half way.
Murphy will be calling on his men to show the same cool attitude they did in last weekend’s victory over Gloucester. They had fought back from behind to lead early in the Second half, only to lose the lead again and have to turn around the game for a second time. This they did, through a late try from Tuilagi and a penalty from Flood to seal a 19-14 victory over an impressive Gloucester side.
The way they lost their lead to Gloucester was cruel. A long pass from Ben Youngs was intercepted by Luke Naraway and heads could easily have dropped. Not in this Leicester side though. Murphy says the team accepts things like that “happen in Rugby”, and they showed the resilience and class that has characterised their club’s game over the last decade of dominance on the domestic front.
This weekend will show just how far the Tigers have improved on their shaky start. The early season worries will be well and truly behind them if they can see off this strong Saints side and they can look forward to a push for the play offs. The same can be said for the Saints. This game is about more than just regional pride. The winners will get a huge boost and the losers will have to dist themselves down and recover, fast.