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Relive the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2013

With back-to-back Aviva Premiership Rugby Final defeats hanging over Leicester Tigers, they kicked the habit and eased to a tenth top-flight title in style in 2013.

Northampton Saints skipper Dylan Hartley saw red on the stroke of half-time for the use of abusive language towards referee Wayne Barnes, with Saints already behind thanks to the kicking of Toby Flood, after Niall Morris and Stephen Myler exchanged early tries.
 
The extra man made all the difference in the second half when Graham Kitchener, Manu Tuilagi, and Vereniki Goneva all touched down as Leicester rounded off a memorable 37-17 victory over their East Midlands rivals.
 
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Tigers – previous runners-up in consecutive Aviva Premiership Rugby Finals – were pre-game favourites and stormed out of the blocks, Flood slinging a pass out to Morris to go over in the corner for an early try.
 
Saints then responded with a try for Myler and some enormous hits in the middle of the park, most notably from Courtney Lawes on Flood whose game was ended prematurely as a result.
 
But at 13-5 with half-time looming, England hooker Hartley’s reaction to a penalty decision from a central scrum earned him an early bath – the first ever red card in a Premiership Rugby Final. This gave Leicester the extra man, which ultimately told in the second-half.
 
Northampton battled back valiantly and scores from Ben Foden and Lee Dickson either side of Kitchener’s rampaging break for Leicester kept them in the game at 24-17.
 
The result looked certain when Tuilagi crashed through a weary Tom Wood to score Leicester’s third, before Goneva went over after Ken Pisi’s hopeful pass was picked off just before full time.
 
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster,” said Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill. “We started the game really well, scored a good try and then obviously we were a bit sloppy, let them back in and then it was really tight.
 
“In the second half we just didn't control the ball well enough in the early parts.
 
“They scored a good try, even with a winger down, so credit to Saints. They played really well, they took us to the line but eventually we wore them out.
 
“To get this far and not to win it is an opportunity missed so thankfully this year, third time lucky, it's done.
 
“You don't want blokes getting sent off. People say things in the heat of the moment but, to be fair to Saints, it didn't affect them particularly.”

 
Leicester Tigers 37 Northampton Saints 17

Leicester Tigers: Tait, Morris, Tuilagi, Allen, Goneva (Smith 74), Flood (Ford 23), B Youngs (Harrison 74), Mulipola (Balmain 74), T Youngs (Hawkins 67), Cole (Castrogiovanni 67), Kitchener (Slater 55), Parling, Croft, Salvi, Crane (Mafi 72)

Northampton Saints: Foden (G Pisi 67), K Pisi, Wilson, Burrell, Elliott (Haywood 40), Myler (Roberts 67), Dickson (Lamb 67), Tonga'uiha (Waller 55), Hartley, Mujati (Mercey 56), Lawes, Day (Van Velze 60), Dowson (Nutley 67), Wood, Manoa
 
Leicester Tigers
Tries: Morris, Kitchener, Tuilagi, Goneva
Conversions: Flood
Penalties: Flood, Ford 4
 
Northampton Saints
Tries: Myler, Foden, Dickson
Conversions: Myler
 
Attendance: 81,703

Referee: Wayne Barnes
 

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