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Mike Ford’s Role Changed at Leicester

Mike Ford’s role has been revised at Leicester Tigers ahead of the new campaign

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Mike Ford’s role has been revised at Leicester Tigers and he will now take up the job of attacks coach.

Ford was brought in halfway through last season as a consultant to help the club avoid relegation. However, former Tigers coach Pat Howard has now taken over the job of mentoring the managerial group meaning that Ford has been allowed to shift positions.

Having scored only 47 tries during a terrible season for the Tigers, head coach Geordan Murphy is delighted to have Ford in a more defined role.

“The nature of last season it certainly felt I was in doing quite a lot throughout the season. Having Mike come on board and take a little bit more of a lead in the attack has been great for me in that it helps me oversee and have those conversations with Mike and we have got Phil Blake who has got a pre-season, he has been putting the defence together,” he said while talking to Leicester Tigers TV.

He went on to give a rundown of which coaches will be taking control of each area as the club look to massively improve on their 11th place finish last season.

“He joined us in January and that was probably one of the massive areas of improvement that we expect to see. Mark Bakewell is taking the forwards and Brett Deacon is picking up all the work that needs to be done in and around that. We have resourced well and hopefully, we can keep improving. Mike is going to run the attack. Phil will run the defence, Mark will run the forwards and Brett is going to do breakdown across the club. At the minute Boris (Stankovich) does the scrum and does that throughout the club and we’re lucky. One of the things that I was conscious that I wanted to do was use people where they are strong. We have got some great coaches in the academy as well who will help develop and mentor guys. Dave Mele has come on board the academy and we will use him with the first-team nines and 10s as well,” he added.

The squad are currently training at an army base in Aldershot to try and improve their fitness levels ahead of the 2019/20 season, as Murphy believes that it’s an area where they were weaker last season.

“We are very lucky to be here and train at a new venue. We can get the players together for a week so we can have numerous training sessions and meetings and spend a little bit of time together… we wanted to work on our fitness. We have done that over the first few weeks and coming to an army camp enables us to train particularly hard. It [pre-season] has been good so far. The players are working very hard and I have to commend them. There has been a real attitude shift. People recognise we probably weren’t fit enough last season and it is something we wanted to address,” he finished up.

Murphy and his side have not only switched up the coaching staff but have spent big during the summer too and will be expected to have a much improved season than the one gone by.

Premiership

Highlights & Report | Saints topple Saracens in opener.

Huge results for Saints.

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Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images

Northampton Saints kicked off their Gallagher Premiership campaign with their first win at Allianz Park in three years as they defeated reigning champions Saracens in a see-saw season opener.

In a back-and-forth contest that saw the lead switch six times, Saints scored three tries before the break – David Ribbans, Rory Hutchinson and Henry Taylor all crossing the whitewash – with Saracens only able to send Matt Gallagher over in response.

But the boot of Ben Spencer kept the home scoreboard ticking over and though neither side crossed the whitewash in the second forty it was ultimately a James Grayson penalty that secured the win at the death for Saints. 

Saracens wasted no time getting their first points of the Premiership season – with Spencer knocking over a penalty just two minutes in – before the scrum-half added a second on the 15 minute mark.

But Saints responded well and charging runs from Taqele Naiyaravoro, Alex Coles and then Paul Hill got Saints into Saracens’ 22; and after a period of pressure on the tryline, the men in Black, Green and Gold came away with the first try of the game – David Ribbans the man over the line in his 50th appearance in Saints’ colours.

Grayson made no mistake with the conversion to put Saints ahead, but the lead was short-lived as another Spencer penalty swung the scoreline back Saracens’ way. And the home side stretched that lead just a minute later as Ben Earl snuck through a gap and fed Matt Gallagher for the score.

An important turnover from Coles in Saracens’ territory got Saints back on the front foot though and with Northampton working their way up the pitch, Hutchinson spun and stretched over the line for Saints’ second of the match. 

Grayson’s conversion brought the game back within two and Saints were soon back on the scoresheet again. After scooping up loose ball in their own 22, Grayson hacked the ball downfield and with Collins in chase and Taylor on his shoulder, the wing offloaded to see the scrum-half score Saints’ third against his former side – again Grayson converted and the away side entered the changing room five points in front.

Saints were denied a George Furbank try by the TMO after the break though, and Spencer sent another penalty through the posts to close the gap to two points. Spencer and Grayson exchanged another penalty each before the Saracens kicker added another from the tee to see the home side lead again.

But the scrumhalf’s eighth kick came off the post and when the chance came for Grayson to line up for the sticks in the game’s final minute, the 21-year-old sent the ball sailing through the uprights to see Saints secure their first away win over Saracens in three years.

Match Highlights:

Report from Saints

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Premiership

Highlights & Report | Paddy Jacksons stars as London Irish Pip Wasps.

Irish surprise Wasps at the Ricoh

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Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

London Irish opened their Gallagher Premiership account with a hard fought 26-29 win over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena this afternoon. 

Tries from Blair Cowan, Albert Tuisue and a long range effort from Ollie Hassell-Collins, combined with 14 points off the boot of Paddy Jackson, was enough to get the Exiles across the line. 

Irish started the contest well and after going behind to a Lima Sopoaga penalty striking back right away. Paddy Jackson fizzed a pass to Ollie Hassell-Collins who broke down the left-hand flank. The winger was tackled five metres short of the line but three phases later, Blair Cowan bundled over the line for the opening score of the game. 

Sopoaga and Jackson traded penalties before the hosts struck back with their first try of the afternoon. The Exiles were turned over after gathering the restart and Wasps capitalised with Zach Kibirige squeezing in at the corner. The try gave Wasps an 11-8 lead. 

Declan Kidney’s side continued to stay in the fight and, when Jackson kicked his second penalty goal of the afternoon from 45 metres the scores were level at 11-11 at the half hour mark. 

With 10 minutes of the half remaining there was still a few twists and turns to take place. London Irish crossed for their second try of the afternoon following a well worked line-out. Paddy Jackson kicked to the corner and the resulting catch and drive saw a rampaging Albert Tuisue thunder back towards the Wasps try line carrying three Wasps defenders over with him. 

The Exiles lead lasted three minutes, with Zach Kibirigie crossing for his second of the afternoon to lock the game up again, this time at 16-16. 

Irish went into the break with the lead, Jackson converting his third penalty after a great penalty turnover was won by Blair Cowan. 16-19 Irish led at the break.

Hassell-Collins got what his first half performance deserved, three minutes into the second half. The winger sprinted in from 55 metres out, collecting a wide passed from the impressive Cowan to score his side’s third try. Jackson converted from the sideline to give his side a 10-point lead at 16-26. 

A Jackson penalty five minutes later was converted as referee JP Doyle penalised Wasps for being offside in the midfield. Irish led 16-29 with just over 30 minutes remaining. 

The following exchanges saw Wasps dominate possession in the Irish 22, however it was meet with resolute Irish defence. A stand-out moment saw Tom Parton make an outstanding try saving tackle to prevent Kibirigie his hat-trick in the corner. 

The hosts were not to be denied and, after gutsy Irish defence, Dan Robson eventually spotted a gap to dot down and bring Wasps right back into it. Sopoaga’s conversion reduced the deficit to 23-29 in favour of London Irish. 

Jacob Umaga, on as a second half replacement, reduced the arrears further with a penalty goal and it was agonisingly close moving towards the end. 

Wasps were camped on the Exiles line with time up on the clock and, when the ball was fumbled by the hosts, Jackson touched down over the Exiles try line to secure a three point victory.

Match Highlights:

Wasps: Penalties: Sopoaga (9, 15) Umaga (73); Tries: Kibirigie (23, 36), Robson (66); Conversions: Sopoaga (67) London Irish: Tries: Cowan (10), Tuisue (33); Hassell-Collins (43); Penalties: Jackson (21, 26, 40, 48); Conversions: Jackson (43)

London Irish 

15. Tom Parton; 14. Ben Loader; 13. Curtis Rona; 12. Terrence Hepetema; 11. Ollie Hassell-Collins; 10. Paddy Jackson; 9. Scott Steele (rep: Ben Meehan, 40); 1. Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (rep: Harry Elrington, 52) 2. Saia Fainga’a (rep: Ross McMillan, 73); 3. Oliver Hoskins (rep: Lovejoy Chawatama, 73); 4. Franco van der Merwe © (rep: George Nott, 28); 5. Ruan Botha; 6. Matt Rogerson; 7. Blair Cowan; 8. Albert Tuisue

Replacements: 16. Ross McMillan; 17. Harry Elrington; 18. Lovejoy Chawatama; 19. George Nott; 20. Conor Gilsenan; 21. Ben Meehan; 22. Stephen Myler; 23. Matt Williams

Wasps

15. Marcus Watson; 14. Zach Kibirige; 13. Malakai Fekitoa; 12. Michael Le Bourgeois; 11. Josh Bassett; 10. Lima Sopoaga; 9. Dan Robson (C); 1. Zurabi Zhvania; 2. Tom Cruse; 3. Kieran Brookes; 4. James Gaskell; 5. Charlie Matthews; 6. Brad Shields; 7. Jack Willis; 8. Sione Vailanu

Replacements: 16. Gabriel Oghre; 17. Ben Harris; 18. Jeff Toomaga-Allen; 19. Thibaud Flament; 20. Nizaam Carr; 21. Sam Wolstenholme; 22. Jacob Umaga; 23. Juan de Jongh

Match Report from London Irish

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Premiership

Highlights & Report | Worcester Warriors 24-16 Leicester Tigers

Great start for Worcester

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Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Warriors got their Gallagher Premiership campaign off to the best possible start with a fifth straight win over Leicester Tigers in all competitions.

First half tries from Ted Hill and Perry Humphreys and 14 points from the boot of Duncan Weir helped Warriors to complete a quickfire double over Leicester following victory in the Premiership Rugby Cup last month.

The scoreline perhaps did not reflect how Warriors dominated for long periods of the match but handling errors and a heavy penalty count at the breakdown prevented them from converting second half pressure into more points.

But Warriors again demonstrated a fierce will to win and n ability to retain their composure under pressure with Weir levering over three penalties in the final quarter to deny Leicester a bonus point.

Weir’s accuracy proved decisive as Leicester missed three penalties including two in the final quarter when the match was still in the balance.

Leicester were unrecognisable from the side Warriors trounced in the  Premiership Rugby Cup four weeks ago but it was centre Tom Hardwick, one of the few survivors from that encounter, who gave Tigers the lead with a third minute penalty.

Warriors hit back in style with a rampaging  Hill clattering down the right wing after he was set free by a lovely pass from Ryan Mills. Hill had plenty to do when he got the ball but he handed off one tackler and battered his way past full-back George Worth to touch down.

Weir’s conversion from the right hand touchline struck the left post but bounced out.

Leicester hit back with try from hooker Tom Youngs who was smuggled over from a driving maul after Hardwick kicked a penalty into the corner for the lineout.

Hardwick added the extras but Warriors looked sharp in attack and they crafted a try for Perry Humphreys that was all about support play. Melani Nanai made a half-break and slipped the ball to Chris Pennell who found Cornell du Preez in support. The number eight took the ball into contact but popped it up for the supporting Humphreys who went over for his second try of the season against Leicester.

Weir added the conversion but Warriors’ lead lasted only six minutes as Hardwick slotted a penalty after Warriors were penalised at the breakdown.

That score was cancelled out by a penalty from Weir but Warriors had to defend determinedly to hold onto their lead.

Leicester kicked two penalties to the corner and again tried to force their way over from a driving maul but Warriors stole the second lineout with the final play of the first half.

Leicester did regain the lead early in the second half when Hardwick struck a penalty but that proved to be their last success as EW Viljoen and then Hardwick both missed with penalty attempts in a costly three minutes period.

Instead Weir rewarded Warriors for a passionate display by rewarding Warriors for the tenacity and picking up the penalties when they were on offer.

His longest range effort five minutes from time gave Warriors some breathing space and his last, a minute from time, started the celebrations.

Warriors | 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Francois Hougaard, 1 Callum Black (Waller 56), 2 Niall Annett, 3 Conor Carey (Palframan 78), 4 Anton Bresler, 5 Graham Kitchener (Fatialofa 51), 6 Ted Hill, 7 Marco Mama (C), 8 Cornell du Preez (van Velze 63).
Replacements | 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Michael Fatialofa, 20 GJ van Velze, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Francois Venter.

Match Highlights:

Timeline
3m | Hardwick pen 0-3
6m | Hill try 5-3
10m | Youngs try 5-8
11m | Hardwick con 5-10
28m | Humphreys try 10-10
29m | Weir con 12-10
35m | Hardwick pen 12-13
38m | Weir pen 15-13
48m | Hardwick pen 15-16
64m | Weir pen 18-16
75m | Weir pen 21-16
80m | Weir pen 24-16

Match Report  from Worcester Warriors

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