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Match Report: Leicester Tigers 19 Northampton Saints 11

03 Dec 2016
Match Report: Leicester Tigers 19 Northampton Saints 11

Heroic defensive efforts from both sides meant the boot was king in the second half at Welford Road and a last-gasp Owen Williams penalty denied Northampton Saints a losing bonus point against Leicester Tigers.

The kick ensured Tigers move onto seven wins from their ten games this Aviva Premiership Rugby season, while Saints sank to their fourth successive East Midlands derby defeat in a row, and remain on four wins for the campaign.

Adam Thompstone and Mike Haywood exchanged first half tries, with the boot of Freddie Burns handing his side a narrow half time lead.

And with neither side able to cross the whitewash in the second period, two more Tigers penalties were enough to secure the win.

Saints put themselves under early pressure when Luther Burrell was sent to the bin for a dangerous tackled in the second minute.

And Burns gave his side an early advantage with an eighth-minute penalty after Saints infringed at the lineout.

A three points advantage soon became ten as Burns fed Thompstone for his fifth try of the season in the 14th minute, before adding the conversion.

Burrell was then re-introduced and it was Tigers’ turn to go down to 14, with try-scorer Thompstone being sent to the bin for playing George North in the air.

And Saints took full advantage, Haywood stretching out an arm from the bottom of a rolling maul that went to ground a yard short of the line in the 17th minute – Stephen Myler was wayward with the conversion, though.

But the fly-half made amends less than ten minutes later, reducing the deficit to two points with a 47m penalty.

Burns returned the favour though, on the half hour mark, when Saints were penalised for a high tackle on Williams.

But Myler had the final say in the first half, kicking a second penalty after Alex Waller’s fine scrummaging forced Tigers to handle and suffer the consequences – the sides going into the break split by just two points in a thrilling East Midlands derby.

The early stages of the second half were characterised by a succession of turnovers, with Harry Thacker – a late replacement for Tom Youngs just hours before kick-off – in particular catching the eye.

With 30 minutes to play Manu Tuilagi made his latest comeback from injury as he replaced Peter Betham, as Tigers’ Richard Cockerill looked for some extra impact from the bench.

The home side dominated the following ten minutes, running through the phases and inching ever closer to the Saints tryline as they looked to get Tuilagi into the game, but the visitors were eventually able to clear after the ball squirted free, resulting in a Northampton scrum.

Superb tactical kicking from Burns set up another period of Tigers possession on the Saints tryline, but the visiting defence continued to stand firm.

Until, that is, Saints were penalised for infringing at a scrum and the Leicester fly-half kicked the first points of the second half with just ten minutes remaining.

The pattern of the second half was reversed for its final ten minutes, with Saints growing into the game and sniping away at the Tigers tryline.

But an Ed Slater-orchestrated defence kept them at bay and when the Tigers captained turned the ball over, the game was one.

The only action left was for Williams, with the clock in the red, to kick a penalty and ensure Saints missed out on the losing bonus point.