Leicester Tigers were beaten 47-20 by Northampton Saints in Round 4 of the Premiership Rugby Cup at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.
Tigers had fought back into the game midway through the second half after trailing 26-10 but Saints, who had already claimed at least a bonus point, scored three times in the last six minutes to put clear daylight between the teams.
A score from Fred Tuilagi gave Tigers an early lead in the tie – part of the unique derby round in the knockout competition – but Saints were chasing a bonus-point win to guarantee top spot in their pool and claimed three of their own to lead 19-7 at half-time.
The bonus-point for Saints came less than 10 minutes into the second period but Tigers got a precious foothold as a try from Joe Ford cut the deficit to just six points at 26-20 before Saints regathered their grip on proceedings with the late scores.
Tigers included 15 players in the squad who have come through the club’s academy ranks in the matchday squad and gave Tom Varndell a first outing in the shirt since April 2009 while Leonardo Sarto made his debut.
They kept their rivals inside their own half throughout the opening quarter-hour, biting into tackles and making Saints work hard to get out, but a penalty for offside near halfway encouraged their rivals and they made the most of it with an opening score from James Grayson.
After securing lineout ball on the left, and with the advantage for another penalty, Saints put ball through hands to the opposite flank where fly-half Grayson wriggled through a tackle to dot down. He added the extras to tie the score on 15 minutes.
Saints were beginning to build momentum and, although they faltered as they overplayed in midfield, they gained another offside penalty award and again made it count with a second try. This time the ball remained with the forwards as they drove up to the line and hooker James Fish got the final touch. Tempers flared momentarily before Grayson lined up the conversion but he was wide with the kick as Saints led 12-7.
He didn’t have to wait long for another attempt, though, as Saints opened up play inside their own 22 and broke clear. When Jordan Olofowela was wrapped up as he chased back just 20 metres out, Saints won turnover ball and played out to the left where Tigers old boy Barrow dived in to score. This time Grayson adjusted his sights and landed the kick to make it 19-7 with eight minutes remaining in the half.
An error at the restart from the home side gave Tigers field position to build an attack but they lost possession until winning a penalty on the floor with Will Evans and Sam Aspland-Robinson over the ball. Ford stepped up to kick the three-pointer from 25 metres.
He had a chance to replicate that just moments later when Heinrich Brussouw was penalised on the floor but this time Ford hooked wide and the half-time break arrived with Saints still nine points in front.
An offside call against Tigers from the kick-off to the second half gave Saints a chance to go to the corner and Tigers were also marched back 10 metres when captain Harry Wells spoke to the referee, but the defence stood up to the drive this time and wrapped up ball.
They still looked to attack from deep, though, and after creating some space for Tom Collins on the left, Ford had to chase back into the corner to kick out with the hosts closing in.
The lineout just five metres out, though, led to the bonus-point score as Brussouw attacked from close in and forced his way to the line. Grayson added the conversion to stretch the lead to 26-10.
Keen work at the breakdown from Evans on halfway earned a penalty for Tigers and after Tuilagi made territory in front of the posts, the whistle went again and, although Ben White sensed the chance to go quickly, referee Adam Leal brought play back and, instead, Ford kicked the points.
Varndell almost got his first try for Tigers in almost a decade as he raced on to a clever kick from Tom Hardwick, but he gathered at the same time as Jamie Gibson and they both rolled to the deadball line with the ball held off the ground.
Tigers enjoyed a good spell of pressure near the tryline, with the forwards keeping control of the ball and looking to make the most of scrum-time. Saints were warned by referee Leal after coming under pressure at the set-piece. They held out, though, and finally earned a penalty of their own near the touchline when another scrum hit the floor.
The try did come, though, but from very different circumstances as Tuilagi blocked a kick near halfway and Ford recovered possession to run the final 50 metres on his own. The fly-half added the conversion, scraping in off the post, to cut the gap to 26-20 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Tigers sent on academy scrum-half Jonny Law for his debut as the game restarted but a penalty award deep inside their own half allowed Saints the chance to clear and establish possession once more until scrum-half Reinach managed to spot a gap and dive in for try number five.
Taylor Gough got on for his first taste of senior rugby in the closing stages but the game closed with Tom Collins making use of space wide on the left to score and then scrum-half Reinach broke clear from his own half to latch on to loose ball and score in the final minute.
Thank you to everyone who made the short trip across to Northampton to support us for today's Prem Rugby Cup, we hope you have a safe journey home.
Saints 47 Tigers 20
And the conversion
Saints add the conversion to make it 47-20.
Tigers force a knock-on and win the ball at the restart but Saints intercept the ball and it's Cobus Reinach runs it in to score a last score for Saints.
Saints add the conversion to make it 40-20 after 78 minutes.
Saints with phases in Tigers 22 before the ball is passed out wide to Tom Collins who runs in on the wing to score.
Tigers win the ball at the lineout and chip ahead but Saints recover the ball and run it back into Tigers 22.
What a Shot!
Tigers with a huge tackle on Saints as they go wide from the lineout and Tigers defence holds strong to push Saints into touch for a Tigers lineout in our 22.
Tom Varndell and Jordon Olowofela are replaced Curtis Wilson and Freddie Steward for his senior debut.
Saints from the Restart
It's all Saints from the restart as they run the ball back at Tigers and work into Tigers half before winning a penalty at the breakdown and they kick for the lineout in Tigers 22.
Ross McMillan, Harry Wells and Will Evans are replaced by Harry Mahoney, Cameron Jordan and Taylor Gough.
Saints add the conversion to make it 33-20 after 74 minutes.
Saints keep building phases and Cobus Reinach finds a gap to run over the line for the try.
Testing Tigers Defence
Saints are quick from the lineout and find gaps to run up into Tigers 22, Tigers rip the ball but it goes loose and Saints have the advantage for a knock-on.
Tigers win the ball at the lineout but the referee calls a turnover and Saints kick to touch for the lineout inside Tigers half.
Tigers with the ball at the lineout and the ball is passed out wide where Joe Ford chips ahead into Saints 22.
The chasing Tigers players keep pressure on Saints who kicks clear but only outside their 22 for the lineout.
Tigers win the ball from the restart and win a penalty at the breakdown, kicking to touch and giving Tigers the lineout on Saints 10 metre line.
Ford adds the extras
Tigers close the gap as Ford adds the conversion to his try to make it 26-20 after 68 minutes.
Try for Tigers
There's a charge down in mid-field by Fred Tuilagi and Joe Ford recovers the ball in space, running in the ball from half-way to score the try for Tigers.
There's an overthrow from Saints at the lineout and Tigers recover the ball, Varndell thumps the ball upfield and it's Saints back in attack.
Heinrich BRussow and Rory Hutchinson replaced by James Haskell and Ashee Tuala.
Tigers HIA Replacement
Joe Heyes returns to the field as David Feao goes for a HIA.
Saints have the ball from the lineout but it's kicked downfield and finds Tom Varndell who runs it back at the defence and Tigers are back attacking Saints on halfway.
The referee blows the whistle for a penalty against Tigers at the breakdown and Saints kick for the lineout on Tigers 22.
There's a penalty at the scrum but it goes to Saints, they kick to touch for a lineout just outside their 22.
The ball is kicked out of the scurm and Tigers get the ball out to the wing and Tom Varndell shows good strength to keep in field and keep moving forward but Tigers win a penalty at the breakdown and we have another scrum on the far side of the field, 5 metres out from the Saints tryline.
Another Scrum penalty
Tigers win another penalty at the scrum, the referee has a word with Saints and issues them a warning before Tigers opt to scrum again.
Tigers opted for a scrum from the penalty and we've had a reset scrum and a penalty for Tigers at the scrum but we opt to scrum again.
Francois van Wyk is replaced by Reece Marshall.
Ficundo Gigena is replaced by Campese Ma'afu.
It's messy at the back of the scrum but Tigers keep the ball and Fred Tuilagi runs it forward up towards the tryline but the referee blows for a penalty for Tigers.
Nafi Tuitavake is replaced by Andrew Kellaway.
Tigers have the ball from the lineout and build a number of phases and the ball goes out wide to Tom Varndell to run in to score in the corner but it's a good covering tackle and the ball is held up for a Tigers 5 metre scrum.
Saints with the ball at the lineout but Tigers oush them back into their half and they have to build a number of phases to get back into Tigers half but there's a loose ball and Tigers have it.
Tigers kick into Tigers half and they kick to return it but find touch on the full for a Tigers lineout outside the Saints 22.
Ben Franks and Dom Barrow are replaced by Ehren Painter and Alex Moon.
Tigers show good work to build phases and work into Saints half, there's a shout for high tackle but the referee calls play on and Saints win a penalty at the breakdown.
Saints kick to touch for a lineout inside Tigers half.
Tigers lineout but Saints win the ball and kick it back down into Tigers 22. It's Tigers on the attack and working back into Saints half.
Tigers with another penalty
Tigers win the ball at the lineout and win a penalty at the breakdown as Jamie Gibson is penalised for not rolling away.
Ford kicks for touch and another Tigers lineout just outside the Saints 22.
Tigers win a penalty at the scrum and Ford kicks to touch for a Tigers lineout on half-way.
Tigers collect the ball from the restart but there is a knock-on at the breakdown and Saints win a scrum on Tigers 22 line.
PEnalty for Tigers
Joe Ford lands the penalty to make it 26-13 after 50 minutes.
Tigers win the ball at the lineout and there's some big runs as the Tigers look to work further into the Saints 22 before the referee awards us a penalty and Joe Ford points to the posts.
Saints have the ball from the restart and build phases as they look to work out of their 22 but Tigers win a turnover and kick to touch for a lineout inside Saints 22.
Grayson adds the conversion to make it 26-10 after 46 minutes.
Saints build phases from the lineout with some great tackles going in from Tigers but Saints push over the line under the posts for the try.
Tigers win the ball at the scrum and with a few phases kick the ball upfield but the ball doesn't find touch and it's Saints who have the ball.
Tigers win a turnover and kick back upfield with a good chase by Tigers but Saints find the space to run it back up towards half-way, chipping it towards the Tigers tryline but Joe Ford is quickest and recovers the ball, kicking it clear for a lineout in our 22.
Saints create the driving maul but it goes to ground and Tigers win the turnover and the scrum.
Tigers collect the ball from the restart but Saints turnover the ball and look to attack quickly.
Saints win a penalty for offside and get pushed back for chatting back at the referee. Saints kick for the lineout in Tigers 22.
We are back out on the field and Saints kick-off the second-half.
Saints 19 Tigers 10
Tigers defence holds strong as Saints look to run the ball from the scrum and force a knock-on, Tigers look to run it back but can't get a hold of the ball and the referee blows the whistle for half-time.
Ping Pong Ball
Tigers look to run the ball back at Saints as they kick into Tigers half but the referee calls back for a knock-on and Saints have the scrum.
Joe Ford lines up the penalty but the ball goes just wide of the posts so Saints have the 22 restart.
Tiger with the ball from the lineout and win a penalty at the breakdown as Saints try to turnover.
Ford points to the posts.
Tigers win the lineout and both teams test out some kicks but Tigers with the ball look to work out of our half and win a penalty at the breakdown.
Ford kicks to touch and Tigers get the lineout outside the Saints 22.
Saints win back the restart ball but as they chip ahead the ball goes straight into touch for a Tigers lineout inside the Tigers half.
Penalty for Tigers
Joe Fords lands the penalty to add to Tigers points and makes it 19-10 after 34 minutes.
Tigers get the ball at the lineout but the ball is turned over and Saints look to run out of the 22 but Tigers win back the ball and win a penalty.
Ford points to the posts and lines up the penalty kick.
Tigers kick the restart and Saints get run in to touch for a Tigers lineout inside Saints 22.
Grayson adds the conversion to make it 19-7 after 30 minutes.
Saints push the ball wide and the retreating Tigers defence is too stretched and Dom Barrow is out on the wing to run it over for the try.
Saints go quick at the scrum and find space outwide to chip ahead and into Tigers 22.
Tigers recover the ball but Saints win a turnover and advantage in the breakdown and it's a quick ball in attack for Saints.
Tigers create the driving maul from the lineout but the maul goes down and the referee awards Saints a scrum in their 22.
Tigers kick the restart which is immediately kicked clear to touch and Tigers win a penalty at the lineout for contact in the air.
Tigers kick to touch for another lineout in Saints 22.
James Grayson pushes the conversion wide, and it is James Fish who is names as the tryscorer for Saints.
Worth adding their is no TMO for today's game.
Saints create the driving maul from the lineout and manage to push their way over the line, the referee awards the try and there's a bit of scuffle between players but the try stands and we carry on.
Testing the DEfence
It's all Saints from their lineout running the ball wide to both sides before a chip ahead is recovered by Tigers but the referee calls them back for an advantage.
Saints opt to kick for the corner and have a 5 metre lineout.
Tigers win the ball at the lineout and after a few quick phases kick the ball clear for a lineout between the 10 metre and 22.
We have some resets scrums before the scrum collapses and the referee awards Saints a penalty, they kick for touch and they have the lineout in Tigers 22.
Tigers Clear The ball
Tigers take the ball at the lineout and kick to clear but the ball doesn't find touch so Saints are back on the attack and run it back at Tigers half.
The ball goes loose on the far side and the referee calls a knock-on in the tackle, Saints have the scrum on Tigers 10 metre line.
Saints are the attack from the lineout and push Tigers wide but the defence holds and Saints kick ahead finding touch in Tigers 22 for a Tigers lineout.
Both sides test out their kicking game from the restart and Saints come away with the ball attacking back into Tigers half but there's a turnover in midfield.
Tigers go wide and Hardwick goes for a chip ahead but it finds touch for a Saints lineout.
Grayson adds the extra two points to make it 7-7 after 15 minutes.
Saints win an advantage from the driving maul and test the Tigers out wide before James Grayson finds a space out on the wing to run over and score.
Tigers go quick with the lineout but Saints win a turnover in a tackle and win advantage for Tigers offside we look to defend.
Saints kick to touch and get the lineout just inside Tigers 22.
Tigers have held strong in defence as we push Saints back to their 22 and they kick to clear for a Tigers lineout on their 10 metre line.
Back at Saints
Tigers take the restart and kick it back to Saints and they look to attack from just inside their own half but Tigers looking strong in defence and pushing them back towards their 22.
Ford with the Extras
Joe Fords adds the conversion to make it 0-7 after 8 minutes.
Try for Tigers
Tigers continue to build phases from the lineout and it's Fred Tuilagi who crashes over for the first points of today's match.
Tigers win the ball at the lineout and it goes to ground but Tigers build the phases and attack the Saints tryline.
Tigers have another advantage from the lineout drive and go wide but there's no advantage so we go back and Ford kicks to the corner for another lineout.
Tigers win another free kick at the scrum and Fred Tuilagi goes quickly, Tigers win penalty advantage for a no-arms tackle and with no advantage the referee calls them back.
Joe Ford kicks to touch and we have the lineout inside Saints 22.
Tigers defence is tested as Saints run from the scrum, Jamie Gibson has a good run before he is brought down and Tigers win a scrum as Saints backline knock-on the ball as they try to push wide.
Tigers get the ball to the back of the scrum but there's a fumble to collect it and referee calls a knock-on for a Saints scrum.
Tigers win a free kick at the scrum but opt to scrum again on Saints 10 metre line.
The ball stays in play from the kick-off and there is some early kick exchanges before Saints win a scrum penalty as Tigers try to hold up a maul.
Joe Ford kicks us off and we are underway in Northampton.
Here We Go
The teams are back out on the field and it will be Tigers and Joe Ford to kick things off this afternoon.
Both teams have finished their warm-ups and are back in the changing rooms as we are just a few minutes away from kick-off.
As the teams go through their warm-ups we are just 10 minutes away from kick-off.
This Week's LTTV
LTTV caught up with Harry Wells and Anthony Allen to look ahead to this weekend's Prem Cup fixture, you can watch their interviews by clicking for Harry Wells here or Anthony Allen here.
The Teams are Confirmed
Live From Franklin's Gardens
Hello to everyone joining us on Matchday Live for today's Premiership Rugby Cup Round 4 fixture against Northampton Saints where we will be bringing you live updates from Franklin's Gardens this afternoon.