Northampton Saints took the derby day honours with a 29-15 victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Friday evening.
A try after just six minutes from scrum-half Cobus Reinach gave the visitors an early lead and they stayed out in front.
Despite plenty of possession and territory, it took Tigers more than 20 minutes to get on the scoreboard with a George Ford penalty in the 243rd meeting of the clubs dating back to 1880.
Saints added two more tries from wing Tom Collins after Mike Williams had been yellow-carded to lead 20-3 at the break in the Round 17 clash of the Gallagher Premiership season
That gap reached 29-3 after three Dan Biggar penalties in the opening part of the second period before Ford picked his way to the line for some consolation for the home crowd. And skipper Tom Youngs, who had to get through an 80-minute shift in the front row added another as reward for his effort in the final minute of the game but there was no way back from so far in arrears and it was the visiting supporters who were in good voice at the end.
Tigers remain in 10th place in the table with five games remaining, three of them to come at Welford Road.
Ford got the game under way on a mild and still evening, but the hosts were right back on their own tryline within seconds after a kick from deep by Saints scrum-half Reinach and then had to survive a chargedown attempt from Jamie Gibson.
But despite having a lot of ball in the opening moments, it was Saints who drew first blood, with a break from Collins putting Reinach in to score. The crowd were still appealing for a knock-on back on the Northampton 22 and then a forward pass out wide.
But it was an early blow, although Dan Biggar did miss the conversion attempt.
An ironic cheer greeted a knock-soon afterwards, though the ball looked like it struck Francois van Wyk on the forehead in midfield and not his hands.
Tigers had ball in hands for multiple phases in the attacking zone, recycling efficiently but finding defiant defence after a midfield break from Tom Youngs took play into the danger area.
A clever kick from Manu Tuilagi down the right kept the visitors pinned back and, when they did kick out, Ford returned with interest to ping the ball into the corner.
A one-two between Sam Harrison and Jonny May almost unlocked the door, then there was almost an opening on the wing where Sam Aspland-Robinson was closed out as he reached for the whitewash.
Gibson was whistled at a breakdown 30 metres out but, playing with the advantage, Harrison chipped cleverly towards the corner where Saints fumbled in defence. Tigers took the option of the lineout and then hand another go when referee Barnes blew again.
Dan Cole ripped possession at the driving maul but was stopped just short and there were some hearts beating faster in the crowd when Saints intercepted just 10 metres out before Ford regathered.
Another penalty award, 25 metres out, brought a call for the tee and Ford kicked the points to get Tigers off the mark on 23 minutes.
Jordan Olowofela worked hard to chase down Taqele Naiyaravaro in his own 22, but a penalty against Brendon O’Connor as he looked to steal at a breakdown, allowed Saints to take play upfield. It almost paid dividends too as Rory Hutchinson stepped off his left foot, but when he was caught 20 metres out, the young full-back was on hand again to wrap up loose ball.
The pace was unrelenting in typical derby style and Mike Williams looked for an offload as he broke a tackle, only to see the ball drop towards the feet of Youngs in support.
Saints threatened with a Heinrich Brussow break and Tigers were suddenly outnumbered as Reinach arrived on his shoulder. Williams, on his knees after making the tackle, slapped the ball loose and was shown the yellow card. Biggar added the three-pointer for an 8-3 lead on the half-hour.
But they quickly added a second try when Hutchinson’s break on the right gave them a three-on-one out wide and he sent Collins in to score. Biggar added the conversion to stretch the advantage to 15-3.
And Saints were celebrating again as they retained ball for a five-minute spell which ended with Naiyaravaro’s left-handed offload to Collins who dived in to score again with just over 60 seconds left in the opening half. Biggar was unable to add his touchline kick but the left was 20-3 as Williams returned to the fray.
The back-rower was quickly on to the ball in attack as Tigers threatened the line. Another penalty went against Saints in defence but then, with the final action of the half, the referee blew in their favour at a scrum just five metres from their own line.
The second half started with Matt Toomua on for Kyle Eastmond, but he also received physio treatment within two minutes to an ankle injury.
Biggar added nine more points in a 10-minute spell as Tigers paid the price for some indiscipline. They also lost Dan Cole to a yellow card for hands in a ruck on his own line as Saints efficiently added to their tally.
Tigers, desperate to gain a foothold, showed some smart handling in attack on the right touchline but when Toomua was dragged down, Saints managed to pick off Harrison’s pass before Reinach kicked into touch on halfway.
But after Tigers missed their lineout target, they broke clear again and this time thought they’d added a bonus-point touchdown when Alex Waller offloaded for Biggar. Referee Barnes, though, checked the replays and spotted the ball had gone well forward.
The clock ticked into the final quarter with Tigers 29-3 down and Olowofela had to work hard in defence again as Ahsee Tuala found space on the left touchline and the Tigers full-back forced his man into touch.
Saints snatched back possession at the set-piece, though Guy Thompson reacted quickly to claim loose ball and then Cole won a penalty at the breakdown when he contested with Tom Wood on the floor.
Then, after some strong work in attack featuring forwards and backs, Ford finally picked his way through to score. The England fly-half made it a seven-point score with the conversion as Tigers trailed 29-10 with 12 minutes remaining.
Ford’s pace and footwork looked like providing another opportunity in the closing moments, beating the defensive line in front of the posts, but Saints recovered to keep drag him down.
Gibson received a yellow card as Tigers drove to the line from an attacking lineout and they went again against the outnumbered defence. Tom Youngs emerged from the bottom of the pile as Barnes looked for TMO assistance and awarded the try. Ford was off target with the conversion with the clock well inside the final minute as both sides recorded an away victory in this season’s head-to-head.