Biggar tipped for Lions as he answers Saints' prayers

London (AFP) –


Northampton boss Chris Boyd said he expects Dan Biggar to be named in the British and Irish Lions squad after the Wales fly-half starred in a 23-18 East Midlands derby win away to Leicester on Saturday.

Biggar played the last 10 minutes of the English Premiership fixture at Welford Road effectively on one leg after running into Tigers wing Nemani Nadolo.

But that did not stop the stand-off from preserving the Saints' five-point lead with a tap tackle on Leicester No 8 Jasper Wiese.

Lions coach Warren Gatland, who knows Biggar well from his time in charge of Wales, has warned that a row over player release could scupper the selection chances of players at Premiership clubs.

The New Zealander is due to announce his squad to tour South Africa on May 6.

But Boyd believes a way will be found to get Biggar involved for the July-August, which features three Tests against the world champion Springboks.

"If you were looking for a guy to take into the trenches with you, Dan would be the first choice," said Boyd after a win that left his side fifth in the Premiership table and still in the hunt for a play-off place.

"I was delighted for him that we held on to win and I would expect him to be named in the Lions squad. He is game is very suited to playing in South Africa and I would certainly pick him.

"There was no major issue with his leg: he was cleared out late a couple of times and was tender by the end."

Rising star Marcus Smith scored the winning try as Harlequins beat London Irish 25-21, a win that left Quins fourth in the table.

The uncapped 22-year-old fly-half's inside step and go proved decisive after he had just kicked his side deep into Exiles' territory with a long-range touch-finder.

Smith stole some of the spotlight from Quins veterans Mike Brown and Danny Care, who made their 350th and 300th appearances for the London club, respectively.

Harlequins attack coach Nick Evans, a former All Black playmaker, said: "I'm probably most proud of the kick because with Marcus, if you put six (men) in front of him, with that amount of space, he's pretty good at beating people most of the time."

Elsewhere, Gloucester overturned a 21-7 half-time deficit to beat Newcastle 35-24, while Sale edged out basement club Worcester 35-32. One consolation for the defeated hosts is that the Premiership have already agreed to suspend relegation this season because of Covid-19.

Friday saw Lions hopeful Sam Simmonds star as reigning champions Exeter defeated leaders Bristol 20-12.

The No 8, playing in front of a crowd at that included Gatland, was all action at Ashton Gate, with Chiefs coach Rob Baxter saying: "It was a fantastic performance from Sam. He had an absolute stormer.

"He looked so strong and so quick. It looks like he is going to take some handling as the weather dries up and pitches dry up."