Mar 18 2012
Geordan Murphy lifted the LV= Cup at Worcester's Sixways stadium as Leicester won the battle of the East Midlands to claim the first silverware of the English club rugby season and a place in the Heineken Cup with a 26-14 victory over Northampton.
The match was settled soon after half-time as wing Scott Hamilton ran 80 metres after intercepting an ambitious pass from Saints fly-half Stephen Myler.
Teenage fly-half George Ford, who kicked a match tally of 16 points, had kept the Tigers in touch with three penalties before flanker Steve Mafi gave them the lead for the first time in the 26th minute. Northampton, winners of the competition two years ago, did not manage a try until five minutes from time, through lock Christian Day, after Myler head scored three earlier penalties.
After a 'sighter' from a difficult angle, Myler opened the scoring at the second attempt from near halfway in the sixth minute. Loosehead Boris Stankovich picked up an injury and was replaced by Marcos Ayerza, but not before Saints were awarded yet another penalty at the breakdown and Myler's kick was on the mark from fully 50 metres to give Saints a 6-0 lead after 11 minutes.
But Ford was equal to the task and pulled his side level with two successful kicks. The two fly-halves exchanged penalties again to take the score to 9-9 after 24 minutes, but that was no real reflection on either side's willingness to move the ball through the hands.
Leicester deservedly went ahead when Mafi barged past Vasily Artemyev to score in the left corner on 26 minutes. The rangy flanker had begun the attack by fielding a restart on his own 22 but the telling thrust had been delivered by Billy Twelvetrees, carving through the Saints defence with Graham Kitchener in support. Ford added the conversion.
Saints approached the second half with far more purpose but again collapsed a scrum and this time Ford converted his penalty from 50 metres to open up a 10-point lead.
Myler tried to force an opening with a floated pass that only found its way into the hands of left wing Hamilton who raced from his 22 to score at the other end. Ford converted the 50th minute try and Leicester were three scores ahead.
Ford left the field to be replaced by Toby Flood. The penalty count against them was mounting, however, and in the 71st minute skipper Murphy was shown a yellow card for his team's repeated infringements.
But it was not until the 75th minute that Saints' desperate attacking efforts were rewarded when Day crashed over in the corner for an unconverted try.