Tom Vickers’ Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers review and player ratings

CRUCIAL CAMEO - Ben Foden scored Saints' second try against Tigers (picture: Sharon Lucey)
CRUCIAL CAMEO - Ben Foden scored Saints' second try against Tigers (picture: Sharon Lucey)

There are some moments in life that you would love to live again.

Moments that you hold close to your heart.

Moments that provoked unbridled joy and an inexorable outpouring of emotion.

Moments that you think can never be equalled or repeated.

Moments that make life worth living.

Back in May, Saints and everyone associated with them sampled one of those moments.

Down to 14 men, Jim Mallinder’s men rose like Lazarus to score with just a couple of minutes to go and shoot down Leicester Tigers.

There was that Tom Wood try, that Leonidas-style celebration, that feeling of unadulterated delight as the realisation of a trip to Twickenham for the final dawned.

Some felt on that magical spring night at Franklin’s Gardens that watching the Saints could not get better.

Surely the club could never again beat the old enemy in such heart-stopping fashion.

Then came the first east midlands derby of this season.

And, miraculously, that moment you felt you would never be able to relive was relived.

And this time, the achievement was even greater.

Because when Saints slayed Tigers in that memorable play-off semi-final seven months ago, they did so with 14 men for 23 minutes.

On this occasion, they beat Richard Cockerill’s side with a man less from the 17th minute of the game, following Dylan Hartley’s red card for an elbow on Matt Smith.

When Hartley trudged off with disappointment etched on his face, it was unimaginable that Saints could see off Tigers for the second time in as many clashes.

But see them off they did.

And how similar it was to that epic battle at the end of last season.

Jamie Elliott’s score three minutes from time came in the same corner as Wood’s match-winning effort.

There was the same roar.

The same raw emotion as the Gardens erupted in disbelief at what it was witnessing.

There was the Stephen Myler kick into the stands that brought an end to another incredible encounter.

And there was the ear-shattering sound that accompanies a victory against your local rivals in such astonishing circumstances.

So while Saints fans who attended that play-off victory against Tigers may have felt they would never see the like again, they did.

A trip to Twickenham will again follow, with Jim Mallinder’s men facing Harlequins there in a regular-season league match next weekend.

There will be no title up for grabs on that occasion.

But title talk - as strong as it may be, with Saints top of the table at Christmas - can wait.

For now, it is just time for Saints to savour that memorable moment.

How they rated...

JAMES WILSON

Kept pushing his team forward with some strong running and also executed a few timely kicks to relieve pressure... 7

KEN PISI

Too hot for Tigers to handle at times, the Samoan made some vital yards for his team with some slippery running... 8

TOM STEPHENSON

Made his first east midlands derby appearance, but it was short-lived as he was withdrawn following Hartley’s red card. No time to make an impact... 6

LUTHER BURRELL - CHRON STAR MAN

Did the work of two men as he stepped up when Stephenson was withdrawn. An incredible performance that once again showcased his immense power and ability... 9

GEORGE NORTH

Drew a roar from the crowd every time he got the ball and wreaked havoc for Tigers throughout... 8

STEPHEN MYLER

Played sensibly to steer his team around the park well, with his passing accurate enough to ensure Tigers could not get a grip of Saints... 7

KAHN FOTUALI’I

As sharp as ever, the Samoan scrum-half kept Saints ticking with some assured distribution and high tempo play... 7

ALEX WALLER

Scored a fantastic try that saw him perform a dummy before flying over the line and the prop continues to enjoy great moments in the green, black and gold... 8

DYLAN HARTLEY

Whatever your view on his red card, the skipper will know he should not have got involved in the incident that saw him elbow Matt Smith. Could have cost his team dear... 3

SALESI MA’AFU

Put himself about and came close to a try as Saints attempted to use his power to push Tigers over their own line... 7

COURTNEY LAWES

A gargantuan performance from the lock, who was everywhere, continually causing Leicester problems and defending heroically... 9

CHRISTIAN DAY

His experience and cool head proved important in a frenetic encounter and he ensured Saints kept composed to claim victory... 8

CALUM CLARK

Another superb display from the flanker, who relishes this kind of blood and thunder encounter... 8

TOM WOOD

Took over the captaincy after Hartley’s dismissal and, as ever, led the side superbly, with his passion to the fore... 8

SAMU MANOA

Another powerhouse performance from the American, who made one of the hits of the season, on Julian Salvi, and whose physicality posed huge problems for Tigers... 9

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

MIKE HAYWOOD (for Stephenson 17)

The young hooker has been involved in Saints’ biggest wins and this was another as he put in a fantastic performance in place of the dismissed Hartley... 8

GARETH DENMAN (for Ma’afu 52)

Is getting better with every appearance and this was a really strong showing, with the prop helping to smash Tigers in the scrum... 8

BEN FODEN (for Wilson 56)

Disappointed to be left on the bench, the full-back added real spark to proceedings and scored a superb try that saw him step on the accelerator and fly past the defence... 8