Thursday 24 May 2018

Saints go marching on despite Ma'afu red card

Northampton 21 Leicester 20

Northampton's Salesi Ma'afu punches Leicester hooker Tom Youngs and was subsequently sent off
Northampton's Salesi Ma'afu punches Leicester hooker Tom Youngs and was subsequently sent off
Mathew Tait of Leicester Tigers avoids a tackle from Kahn Fotuali'i of Northampton Saints
Kahn Fotuali'i of Northampton Saints breaks through the tackle of Manu Tuilagi and Tom Youngs of Leicester Tigers

Northampton Saints defied Salesi Ma'afu's red card and the weight of history to bludgeon their way into the Aviva Premiership final with a victory over Leicester Tigers in a bad-tempered battle at Franklin's Gardens.

The Saints overturned a 17-6 half-time deficit and shrugged off tighthead prop Ma'afu's dismissal for punching Tom Youngs to sneak into the May 31 showpiece.

Tries from George North and Tom Wood cancelled out Leicester's scores from Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs, as Jim Mallinder's men avenged their 37-17 Premiership final defeat to Leicester last season.

Last season Dylan Hartley's red card left Northampton heartbroken in the Premiership final at Twickenham.

This time around the Saints shrugged off battling more than 20 minutes with 14 men, to produce a sucker-punch, last-gasp victory with flanker Wood diving into the left corner.

Irish Independent

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