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Tigers book Cup semi spot with derby win

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Leicester Tigers booked their place in the semi-finals of the Anglo-Welsh Cup with a 27-20 victory over Northampton Saints at a sold-out Welford Road.

It was Tigers’ third win from three games in this season’s competition and guaranteed top spot in Pool 4.
 
Tigers scored three tries in victory over their East Midlands rivals. Will Evans, on the occasion of his 20th birthday scored the opening try from close range before Dom Barrow finished off a flowing move for the second as Tigers led 17-8 at the break.
 
Harry Thacker burrowed over for a third try in the second-half while Owen Williams secured the win with the conversion and a late penalty.
 
International duo Tom Croft and Michele Rizzo returned from injury to take their place in the starting line-up. Croft came back after a back problem while Rizzo made his first appearance of the season after knee and calf injuries. Winger George Catchpole and prop Fraser Balmain also returned from injury to start.
 
For Northampton, captain Christian Day made his 200th appearance for the club, while forwards Kieran Brookes and Jamie Gibson started against their former club.
 
Tigers were put on the front foot by Matt Smith’s hit on Harry Mallinder on the Saints 10m line that was followed by Thacker stealing possession off Ahsee Tuala. Tigers swept forward but were pinged 5m out for holding on in the tackle.
 
A sniping run by Jack Roberts took Tigers back into the Saints 22. He was scragged before Dom Barrow was stopped just short. The ball was switched to the right flank where Matt Smith was tap-tackled before Tigers were held up over the line. It signalled a period of heavy Tigers pressure on the Northampton line.
 
Tigers had a penalty advantage and from the lineout Evans, on his 20th birthday, was also held-up over the line. Tigers continued to batter away at the Saints line and crossed a third time, and this time Luke Hamilton was held up as he tried to touch down.
 
Eventually the pressure finally told and from close range Evans, on the occasion of his 20th birthday, dived over for the opening try. Owen Williams landed the conversion to give Tigers a 7-0 lead after 21 minutes.
 
Northampton replied almost immediately with a try from their first attack. Ken Pisi won a high ball above Tait, offloaded to Tuala who had Mallinder on a supporting line to score. Sam Olver screwed his conversion wide to leave Leicester 7-5 ahead.
 
Saints went down to 14 men 13 minutes before the break. Hamilton brilliantly won possession on the Saints 22 to spark a counterattack that ended with Pisi dumping Roberts on the floor. Pisi received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle and Williams kicked Tigers 10-5 ahead.
 
Olver reduced Leicester’s lead to two points with a long-range penalty that needed the help of an upright to go over.
 
Tigers responded with a stunning score seven minutes before the break. The move began with Wells brilliant offload away from the tackle that put Hamilton and Roberts away down the left. Kitto’s supporting run drew the last man for Barrow to score his first try of the season. Williams added the extras to put Tigers 17-8 ahead.
 
Tigers ended the half with 14 men, Rizzo received a yellow card 30 seconds from the break for charging into Sam Dickinson at a maul.
 
The second half kicked off in driving rain, and Tigers had to navigate the opening nine minutes a man short with Rizzo in the bin. They were helped towards that goal by Kitto’s clever kick that pinned Saints back in their 22.
 
However, Tigers lost Evans through injury. He was replaced by hooker George McGuigan. Thacker moved to the back row.
 
Croft was taken out at a lineout on the Saints 22 but Williams’s pushed his penalty wide of the posts.
 
Tigers survived a scare when Pisi broke down the Northampton right. He had Brady backpedalling but chose to throw an outside pass to Tuala who was hauled down by Croft and then spilled possession.
 
Rizzo returned to the fray after his sin-bin period. Tigers endured another anxious moment when Juan Pablo Estelles stepped past Croft to open a gap but his pass was knocked on by Nafi Tuitavake with Tigers struggling to get across.
 
Tigers weathered the storm and then saw Williams pin Saints back onto their line with an inch perfect grubber to the corner.
 
Tigers claimed a third try of the contest after Thacker wrestled his way over down from close range to finish off good work by Brady and Barrow. Referee Dan Jones consulted his TMO to check for a double movement before awarding the score. Williams’s conversion gave Tigers a 24-8 lead with 25 minutes remaining.
 
A finger-tip tackle by Roberts prevented Pisi making an instant reply for the visitors. Roberts held on to the Saints winger’s shirt tails and eventually pulled him down on the Tigers 22. Tigers defended their line for their lives and eventually forced the knock-on 5m out.
 
Saints introduced Lee Dickson, James Wilson and Paul Hill from the bench and pressured Tigers at a 5m lineout. But Tigers forced a mistake from Day, who knocked-on possession, and Williams cleared.
 
Northampton gave themselves a lifeline with a try 12 minutes from time. Tuitavake slipped through the tackles of Catchpole and Tait to score on the right. Olver converted to cut Leicester’s lead to 24-15.
 
Tigers steadied themselves, though, and continued to harry Saints at every breakdown. The pressure forced a turnover on the Saints 22 that resulted in a penalty for Tigers, that Williams knocked over to give Tigers a 27-15 lead with five minutes left.
 
Northampton finished the game on the attack. They worked the ball from flank to flank before replacement wing Rory Hutchinson finished the pressure with a dive into the left corner in injury time for the final score of the game.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 17-8 NOR

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 27-20 NOR

Attendance

25,849

Referee

Ben Whitehouse

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
27

Full Time

Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints
20

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Northampton Saints
Possession
57%
43%
Territory
57%
43%
Penalties Conceded
10
13
Yellow Cards
1
1
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
88/101 87%
124/136 91%
Lineouts Won
12/12 100%
13/13 100%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Northampton Saints
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Mathew Tait
14Tom Brady
13Matt Smith
12Jack Roberts
11George Catchpole
10Owen Williams3C2P
9Jono Kitto
1Michele Rizzo
2Harry Thacker1T
3Fraser Balmain
4Harry Wells
5Dom Barrow1T
6Tom Croft
7Will Evans1T
8
16George McGuigan
17Riccardo Brugnara
18Ben Betts
19Joe Maksymiw
20Will Owen
21Ben White
22
23Charlie Thacker

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Ahsee Tuala
14
Ken Pisi
13
Nafi Tuitavake
12
Harry Mallinder
11
Juan Pablo Estelles
10
Sam Olver
9
Tom Kessell
1
Ethan Waller
2
Charlie Clare
3
Kieran Brookes
4
David Ribbans
5
Christian Day
6
Jamie Gibson
7
Ben Nutley
8
Sam Dickinson

Subs

16
James Fish
17
Alex Waller
18
Paul Hill
19
Michael Paterson
20
Lewis Ludlam
21
Lee Dickson
22
Rory Hutchinson
23
James Wilson
Form Guide
Form
WLWLW
Last Match
Beat Wasps 38-31
Past Meeting
Lost 18-23
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
LLWLL
Last Match
Lost to Bath Rugby 24-30
Past Meeting
Won 23-18

Matchday Live

Leicester Tigers27
Leicester Tigers
Northampton Saints20
Northampton Saints
Full Time