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Match Report: Leicester Tigers 27 Northampton Saints 20

28 Jan 2017
Match Report: Leicester Tigers 27 Northampton Saints 20

Leicester Tigers booked their place in the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-finals as they saw off Northampton Saints 27-20 at Welford Road.

With a five-point lead over Gloucester Rugby and having won two more games than the Cherry & Whites, Tigers are sure to finish top of their pool.

They scored three tries in this encounter, Will Evans, Dom Barrow and Harry Thacker all going over, and Owen Williams chipping in with 12 points from the boot.

Saints scored three tries of their own, Harry Mallinder, Nafi Tuitavake and then Rory Hutchinson in the final minute for a losing bonus point that keeps them in the hunt for semi-final.

Leicester made a flying start to the game, throwing everything at Saints, three times being held up over the line.

The pressure eventually told then at the fourth attempt with Evans – on his 20th birthday – burrowing over the line for the try.

Williams converted and Leicester deservedly led midway through the half.

Saints had barely threatened but got back in it with a fine try from Mallinder. Sam Olver’s kick was perfectly judged, with Ken Pisi leaping highest to flick it back Tuitavake. He then found Mallinder who had the pace and power to go over on the right.

Olver missed the conversion, and Leicester were soon further clear thanks to a penalty from Williams, with Pisi in the bin for a dangerous tackle.

Olver responded with a penalty to cut the deficit to two but then Leicester made the most of their extra man with a fine try finished off by Barrow, Jack Roberts at the heart of the build-up.

Williams’ conversion made it 17-8 to put Leicester in control, but on the stroke of half-time they lost Michele Rizzo to a yellow card for a no-arms tackle.

Still, they had the chance to extend their lead early in the second half, only for Williams to push a penalty attempt wide.

Northampton were trying to take advantage of their numerical advantage, and looked set for a score with one magical break by Pisi down the left, but Tigers got back in time to force the error out of Tuitavake after he had taken the no-look pass.

Instead it was Leicester who extended their lead thanks to hooker Harry Thacker, who showed plenty of strength to squeeze over. Just as they had in the first half, Leicester plugged away on the Saints line and eventually Thacker was able to force the ball over the line, with the try awarded after consultation with the TMO. Williams converted to make it 24-8 to the home side.

Northampton needed a response, and got it with a fine finish from Tuitavake, the centre twisting and turning before dotting down.

Olver’s conversion cut the deficit to nine, but Williams soon rectified that with a penalty that made the game safe.

Saints still had a losing bonus point to chase though, and got with the final play of the game as Hutchinson slid over in the left-hand corner.

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