A flawless kicking performance from fly-half Owen Williams saw Leicester Tigers extend their unbeaten run over East Midlands rivals Northampton Saints to ten matches with a 22-16 victory at Franklin’s Gardens.
Williams kicked 17 points with a 100 per cent record from the tee and while Ethan Waller’s 76th-minute try earned Saints a losing bonus point and set up a grandstand finish with the Tigers down to 13 men, the visitors held on.
Anthony Allen had scored the first try of the match but Saints trailed just 13-8 at the break after Kahn Fotuali’i’s first Aviva Premiership score just before the interval.
Saints’ indiscipline cost them dear in the second half with Williams in fine form while his opposite number Will Hooley – on just his second Aviva Premiership start – endured a torrid day from the tee.
With both Ben Youngs and Niki Goneva in the sin bin – both penalised for trying to stop George North – the Saints laid siege late on but Ethan Waller’s score was their only breakthrough, ensuring a third defeat on the bounce.
Northampton took the lead on five minutes through a Hooley penalty but the Tigers enjoyed the better of the early possession, going through the phases well and pinning Northampton in their own half.
Manu Tuilagi’s first involvement was to steamroller Luther Burrell but his rival for England’s No.13 shirt exacted revenge minutes later, snaring the Tigers’ centre with a ferocious tackle.
On 16 minutes the Tigers had their breakthrough when Youngs fizzed a fine long pass off his left hand to Allen, who went over in the right corner – Williams on target with an excellent conversion.
And Williams stretched the visitors’ lead on 20 minutes after Burrell was pinged for not releasing.
Williams had his third penalty on 28 minutes to give Leicester a 13-3 lead and things got worse for the Saints when Hooley missed a simple penalty and captain Dylan Hartley limped off.
The hosts finally got in behind the Tigers in the closing stages of the half however – Jamie Elliott gathering his own grubber and while Phil Dowson was stopped on the left, referee Wayne Barnes had already awarded a penalty.
Saints kicked for the corner and Fotuali’i sniped over, although Hooley missed the conversion, giving Tigers a 13-8 lead at the break.
Hooley’s troubles from the tee continued after the break when on 52 minutes, after a high tackle from Tuilagi on Alex Waller, he missed another penalty.
Williams was having no such trouble and notched his third penalty on 58 minutes but James Wilson, on for Hooley, responded in kind soon after for 16-11.
More indiscipline from Saints saw Williams convert penalty number four however and after Northampton were offside, it was number five on 65 minutes.
Both Youngs and Goneva were sent to the sin bin in the closing minutes – both in trying to stop North – and replacement Ethan Waller went over in the left corner to set up a nail-biting last four minutes.
Wilson missed the conversion however and Leicester held firm for a sixth straight Premiership win, leaving them in third, just seven points behind second-placed Saints.