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Leicester Tigers 19 Northampton Saints 19

05 Oct 2013
Leicester Tigers 19 Northampton Saints 19

It was honours even at Welford Road as Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints ended the afternoon all square on 19-19 after an intensely fought East Midlands derby.

Alex Corbisiero’s try at the start of the second half and 14 points from the boot of Stephen Myler had looked like giving the Saints their first victory in nine games against Leicester.

But with five minutes remaining Ed Slater plunged over the line for the Tigers and Toby Flood added the conversion to break Northampton hearts.

From the kick off Leicester winger Blaine Scully took a high ball and was felled by a high straight arm from Northampton No.8 Sam Dickinson, with Scully receiving extensive treatment on the pitch inside the opening minute.

Then from a lineout Ben Youngs was tripped by the prone Phil Dowson giving Flood a shot at the posts, but he pushed the penalty wide of the left upright.

A big hit by Courtney Lawes on Anthony Allen saw the England lock turnover the ball and set up a Saints attack, which ended with Leicester pinged for not rolling away from the tackle.

That gave Stephen Myler a penalty attempt from near halfway and the fly-half made no mistake to put Northampton 3-0 up inside eight minutes.

Saints were reduced to 14 men when centre Leroy Burrell was sent to the sin-bin for a tip-tackle on Allen, Flood slotting the penalty to get his side back on level terms.

From a Northampton attacking scrum the bullocking Dickinson slipped his tackler and won a penalty from Julian Salvi for entering the ruck from the side, with Myler sending the kick between the posts.

With 15 minutes to the interval Burrell returned to the field as Myler lined up another shot at goal after Tom Youngs was pinged for not releasing in the tackle, and he made it 9-3.

Flood had an immediate chance to reduce the deficit when Dowson was penalised for not moving away from the tackle and he made no mistake off the tee.

A lovely grubber kick from Foden gave George North a glorious chance to score the first try of the afternoon but the Welsh winger failed to collect the ball and the opportunity went begging.

Flood got the second half off to a bad start for the home side, kicking straight into touch. And he then missed his second kick at goal from in front of the posts after the Saints front row were penalised at the scrum.

The Leicester fly-half was made to pay for his profligacy as Saints probed down the flanks through North and Dickinson before Myler took them to within feet of the whitewash and Alex Corbisiero burrowed over the line. Myler’s conversion from the left touchline made it 16-6, forcing Leicester to press with added urgency.

Flood finally got his radar working again after the Saints coughed up another penalty at the breakdown, to pull Leicester with seven points of their East Midlands rivals.

Northampton got their power game working, however, with punishing runs from Lawes, North and Manoa forcing the Tigers back to their own line where Dickson thought he had grounded the ball only for the TMO to judge it had been held up.

Leicester’s first real foray into the Saints 22 saw Flood break past his man and find Crane but a poor ball to Adam Thompstone halted the move short of the try line.

They kept the pressure on and some fantastic passing found Ed Slater in space only for the Leicester man to fumble at the vital moment.

A Myler penalty after Leicester were pinged for standing up in the scrum made the gap ten points with 13 minutes to play.

Both sides found themselves down to 14 men when Lawes was sent to the bin for not rolling away from the tackle and Louis Deacon joined him for an injudicious choice of words to referee JP Doyle.

Flood kicked the penalty and the gap was back to seven points, and Leicester flooded forward in search of the try that would bring them level.

And they found it when Slater plunged over the line after a series of lineouts on the Northampton five-metre line to secure just a second Aviva Premiership draw between the sides, and the first since 1998.