Two Manu Tuilagi tries helped Leicester Tigers continue their stranglehold over Northampton Saints as they march on to a home Aviva Premiership semi-final with this convincing victory.
Heading into this clash at Franklin’s Gardens Northampton might have won four consecutive in the league but were taking nothing for granted with the Tigers having tasted victory in the last six meetings.
And their trepidation was realised as Leicester proved exactly why they are the best away side in the Aviva Premiership this season.
Leading 12-3 at half-time thanks to the boot of Toby Flood, centre Tuilagi burst into action after the break to go over twice, cancelling out an effort from fly-half Stephen Myler in reply for the hosts.
And wing Niall Morris and Mathew Tait both went over with ten minutes remaining to add some gloss to the scoreline for the travelling Tigers fans as Leicester wrapped up what could be a crucial bonus point as they look to secure a home semi-final.
Both sides, along with London Wasps, havd scored the most tries in the Aviva Premiership this season, 40, coming into the game but spent the first few minutes feeling each other out.
But after ten minutes Flood sent a penalty through the posts to get Leicester on the scoreboard.
Northampton looked for a quick response and it was led by Courtney Lawes, the giant lock charging down a Ben Youngs kick which led to a penalty that Myler duly converted to level the scores.
But back came Leicester and by the half hour two more Flood penalty kicks had given the Tigers a six-point lead.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts too on 36 minutes as Lawes was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock on, Flood sending over another penalty to stretch Leicester’s lead to 12-3 at half-time.
With Lawes still in the bin to start the second half Northampton were a man light at the restart and their visitors made them pay as just two minutes in Tuilagi crashed over in the left corner for his first Aviva Premiership try since September.
This sparked Northampton into life and after Morris was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock on they got back into the game as Myler made the most of a Ben Foden break to touch down his first Aviva Premiership try of the season, although the fly-half missed the conversion.
However this was as good as it got for the Saints as despite still being a man light with Morris in the bin Tuilagi grabbed his and Leicester’s second try of the game, brushing off some Northampton defenders before crashing over.
Flood converted and in the final ten minutes Tuilagi was joined on the scoresheet by Morris before a brilliant break from Tom Croft had Tait crossing the whitewash to wrap up the bonus point and a convincing win for the Tigers.