Chris Boyd takes aim at referee after Saints’ defeat

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Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd believes referee Adam Leal “didn’t have enough nuts” to award a penalty at an important moment in his side’s 30-6 Premiership loss to Saracens on Sunday.

The first half at Franklin’s Gardens belonged to the Saints who spent an extended period in Saracens’ 22 and they opted to take three consecutive scrums in front of Sarries’ posts after repeated infringements from the visitors.

However, the third scrum saw Leal penalising Northampton which allowed the visitors an easy exit and Boyd’s frustration was obvious after the match.

No reward for dominance

“He didn’t have enough nuts did he? I mean it was a clear hinge. There was only one side under pressure in that series of scrums,” he said.

“But anyway. I certainly think we took the right option. We could have taken three points there but we spent a long time down there. For us to come away with three points would have been a victory for them.”

The first-half finished 6-6 and when Saracens found a new gear by scoring tries through Alex Lozowski, Tom Woolstencroft and Maro Itoje, they emerged conclusive winners.

“I didn’t fear anything that Saracens did. At the end of the day we only got six points and they got 30,” Boyd said.

“We had half a dozen opportunities in the first-half, they had three and scored three tries. That’s the difference between the two sides.

“There’s some credit for Saracens. They have a very good defence and their game is a kicking-based game. We lost the kicking battle often and we didn’t want to get sucked into that kicking game.

“Obviously the rain didn’t help for us because it was greasy and hard to handle. If you lose the aerial ping pong against a team with a good kicking game, you tend to not get territory. But they also defend very well so credit to them.”

Saracens were a different team in the second-half as Saints were made to pay for their inability to get over the whitewash.

“We showed a lot of fight, grit and resolve and we had to tweak a few things in our kicking game and that allowed the rest of our game to lift,” said boss Mark McCall, who expects club captain Owen Farrell to return from his ankle injury against London Irish on January 23.

“We had a lot more energy in defence and we attacked a lot better in the second half and the set-piece went to a different level. Just a really good, hard-fought away win.

“When you’re under the pump as we were, in front of a great crowd as Northampton have, in your 22 as often as we were, you need your senior players to step up and I thought across the board ours did. I thought Maro had a big game.”

Steve Borthwick hails Tigers display in win over Falcons

Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick praised his side’s performance in rain-soaked conditions as they thrashed Newcastle Falcons 31-0 at Welford Road on Sunday.

Newcastle offered little resistance as Leicester dominated throughout with their strong pack and set up a good platform for half-backs George Ford and Ben Youngs, who ran the show with some superbly-judged tactical kicking.

Borthwick said: “It was very wet out there and we played the conditions exceptionally well.

“We had to work really hard for the scores, especially the last one to get the bonus point at the end.

“This team has a great attitude to fight to the end but they are still are a young side who are improving as a team and we shouldn’t be leaving it until the last minute to get a bonus point.”

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