Leicester Tigers took two points from a 41-39 defeat against Northampton Wanderers in the Premiership Shield on Monday evening and were one last-minute kick away from taking a maximum from the derby fixture.
Trailing 19-0 early on, a young Tigers team fought their way back into the game and, even when Wanderers thought they’d taken the game out of reach at 32-41 with just a few minutes remaning, there was still some drama left in the game.
First, Sam Costelow converted a try from replacement prop Keston Lines after a clever inside pass on the edge of a ruck and then the Welsh fly-half had one final chance with a 40-metre penalty with 80 minutes up on the clock.
Although he connected strongly and the kick had plenty of legs, it went wide of the posts and the visitors were able to celebrate their victory.
The Wanderers ran in four tries in the first half, but didn’t have it all their own way as Tigers claimed two scores from forward drives and also one from Costelow to bring it back to 19-26 at the break.
An Andrew Symons break brought the opening score for the visitors, as James Mitchell arrived in support and slid over the line after being taken down a few metres short, then a 70-metre break from Ollie Sleightholme gave No8 Tui Uru a chance to score their second.
George Martin and Taylor Gough both made solid hits in defence and Henri Lavin won an important penalty over the ball just in front his own line as a more experienced Wanderers side enjoyed the bulk of possession early on.
The third try came from slick hands along the backline before Harry Mallinder, on his way back from injury, scored to the right of the posts. Grayson added the conversion for a 19-point lead approaching the half-hour.
A penalty against kick-chasers gave Tigers a first real attacking opportunity and they made it count when Thom Smith caught the lineout and the forwards drove Gough over to score. Costelow added the extras and the fly-half was back in the action just a few minutes later when he charged down a clearing kick 35 metres out, kicked the loose ball on and just got the decisive touch over the line.
But Wanderers still had one more try left in them, with strong running and support play leading to a score for prop Karl Garside. Grayson’s extras gave them a 26-12 lead just short of half-time.
They lost flanker Ollie Newman to a yellow card for taking a man in the air and Tigers immediately set up a push through the forwards on the right to go over for a third try, with Jimmy Stevens credited with the score. The conversion from wide on the right brought Tigers back to within one score at 19-26 at the close of the first 40 minutes.
Tigers lost Leo Gilliland to injury straight from the restart but then levelled the scores with a try from Joe Batley and conversion from Costelow.
Some good work at the other end of the field blocked out the Wanderers before Jack van Poortvliet combined with Batley in attack and, even when ball was lost, play came back for a penalty and Costelow added the kick to cut the gap to just two points.
Wanderers, though, made a clinical break in the backs, with Grayson running into space and ten passing out to the right where Ryan Olowofela finished in the corner.
There was still time for a grandstand finish thanks to the Lines try and then so close to a final victory when Costelow thumped his kick from the tee with time already up but saw it miss the left-hand post.
WANDERERS WIN IT BY TWO
A late comeback from Tigers is denied as Northampton claim a two-point, 39-41 victory in front of more than 500 fans at Welford Road.
80 points. 80 minutes. A great battle between the two old rivals here tonight.
HEARTBREAK AT THE DEATH
Sam Costelow's penalty goal attempt fades away....
We are into the final stages of this game as Northampton are penalised again, at the line-out, and Sam Costelow points the posts for a chance at the win...
TIGERS CHANCE THEIR ARM
The home side looking to play from inside their own half are helped along with a high tackle from Northampton handing them a chance at much needed territory with a kick for the touchline.
We haven't mentioned Charlie Clare in a while, so ... Charlie Clare.
Sam Costelow kicks the extra two points and Northampton's lead is only two points with two minutes on the clock!
TRY | TIGERS
A barnstorming run from Keston Lines sees the replacement front-rower crash over and score!
WANDERERS FUMBLE AT THE BACK
The visitors drop the ball from the re-start and Tigers are on the march inside the Northampton 22.
PENALTY GOAL | WANDERERS
The visitors extend their lead to nine points with a penalty goal in the 76th minute.
A penalty is blown against the home side for offside and the Wanderers have a chance for three points.
The home side are putting in the hard yards in defence as Northampton throw everything at them in attack on halfway.
TIGERS OPT FOR TERRITORY
The home side send the ball straight back to the Wanderers following their re-start and into touch on halfway for a Northampton line out.
PENALTY GOAL | TIGERS
Sam Costelow cuts the Wanderers lead to six points with a penalty goal.
WANDERERS OBSTRUCT TIGERS DEFENDERS
The visitors are penalised in attack for an obstruction in their own 22 and Tigers point to the posts.
TIGERS PILING ON PRESSURE
The home side showing energy and enthusiasm in defence as the rush up on the Northampton attack, who are playing from inside their own half.
Both teams using their replacements as we enter the final ten minutes of play at Welford Road.
TIGERS PENALISED AT THE SCRUM
The Tigers scrum is penalised and Wanderers find touch 38.45m out from their own line.
TIGERS DRIIIIIIIVE IT ON!
The Tigers side drive it forward from the line-out 5m out but the ball is locked in by the Wanderers, who receive the scrum near their own line.
The home side with an advantage after Joe Batley is taken in the air at the line-out. Costelow chips ahead and Wanderers re-gather but, no advantage is taken and we come back for the infringement.
McPhillips finds touch 5m out for a Tigers line-out.
NORTHAMPTON KICK AWAY PRESSURE
The visitors clear from inside their own half following the re-start and Tigers send it back through the boot but land it on the full into touch.
Thankfully, the ball was touched and the home side have the line out 30m out from the Northampton line.
The visitors extend their lead to nine points with a successful conversion attempt in the 65th minute.
TRY | WANDERERS
Northampton execute a backline move well from the line-out, 30m out, and cross in the right-hand corner through Ryan Olowofela to extend their lead to seven points after 64 minutes.
The home side are penalised in defence, inside the Northampton 22, and the visitors clear to inside the home team's half,.
The visitors are penalised for collapsing a Tigers driving maul and Johnny McPhillips finds touch 10m out from the Northampton line. But, unfortunately, the home side lose possession at the line out.
TIGERS DEFENCE MOUNTS
The home side send the visitors into touch with Jimmy Stevens making the tackle one off the ruck like Charlie Clare has done so many times before in his illustrious career.
Tigers with the line out near halfway on the hour mark.
WANDERERS GET US GOING
The visitors re-start from halfway, deep into the Tigers half and the home side send it straight back. Northampton on the attack near halfway.
PENALTY GOAL | TIGERS
Sam Costelow cuts the Northampton lead to two points with a penalty goal from in front in the 58th minute.
The visitors are penalised for tackling a man without the ball and Tigers receive a penalty, 22m out from in front ... and opt to kick for the points.
NA, NA, NA, NA BAT-LEY!
Joe Batley with a rampaging run back at the chasing Northampton defence from the back puts Tigers on the front foot deep inside the visitors half.
WANDERERS PEGGED BACK
The visitors are pegged deep in their own half and work their way forward, ruck by ruck, before clearing with a box kick.
GOUGH STEALS IT!
A brilliant effort from the Tigers back-rower, on his own line, as he dives in as if he's Charlie Clare and forces the referee into penalising Northampton!
Costelow finds touch 35m out.
TIGERS BACK PEDDLING
An attacking opportunity lost as a disjointed backline move down the right hand side sees the home side on the back foot and they are turned over at the ruck, with a penalty to Northampton to follow.
The visitors find touch just 10m out for a line out.
MISTAKE AT THE BACK
An attempted clearing kick is charged down by the Wanderers but, at the next ruck, the visitors are penalised for not rolling away and Tigers clear into touch from the penalty.
TIGERS WASTE CHANCE
An opportunity inside the Northampton half comes to nothing as Tigers turn over possession at the ruck, which hands the visitors the ball and a chance to kick long for territory.
The conversion attempt is unsuccessful and the difference remains just five points at Welford Road with thirty minutes remaining.
TRY | WANDERERS
The visitors capitalise on the chance, deep inside the Tigers half, and push their way over from the driving maul on the back of the line out to score in the corner.
Tigers push Wanderers back on their own ball but, to the dislike of Boris Stankovich seated next to us, are penalised and Wanderers kick for the corner for a line out.
FREE-KICK ... AGAINST THE HEAD
Tigers are 'pinged' at their own scrum and then marched 10m for dissent, which hands the Wanderers a scrum 30m out.
WANDIES KNOCK-ON IN DEFENCE
A hand coming through to take the Tigers scrum-half at a ruck knocks the ball down and forward to hand the visitors a scrum feed 10m inside their own side of halfway.
We are all tied up at 26-all after Sam Costelow's successful conversion from in front.
TRY | TIGERS
An error from the visitors in attack hands possession back to the home side, who move it quickly through the hands before Joe Batley bursts through to run it from 25m out!
EARLY ERROR FROM WANDIES
The visitors make a mistake in attack and are penalised at the ruck, which hands Tigers a chance to find touch in their half ... but it doesn't cross the chalk and Northampton start their attack near halfway.
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY!
We are back underway at Welford Road in the second half of tonight's Shield fixture.
WANDERERS LEAD AT THE BREAK
The visitors take a seven-point lead into the break at Welford Road in tonight's Premiership Rugby Shield fixture.
The Tigers fly-half lands the conversion and closes the gap to seven points.
TRY | TIGERS
Another line-out is well driven from the Tigers pack who push over for another try from close range!
The try-scorer again looks like Thom Smith. Some talk of Jimmy Stevens but we're going for Thom Smith again - which makes it a double for tonight's captain!
A penalty at the line out hands Tigers another chance as they opt for another line-out.
Northampton have a player sent for a ten minute break as he takes out Thom Smith, the Tigers No.8 mid-air as he's chasing through on a Sam Costelow chip-kick near halfway.
Costelow finds touch 10m out from the penalty.
The visitors convert and extend their lead to fourteen points with only minutes remaining in the first half.
TRY | WANDERERS
The visitors move the ball well down their left hand side in attack and find their way through, forcing the Tigers to back peddle and eventually crack in defence as the Wanderers crash over from close range.
WANDERERS SLICE THROUGH
The visitors are back, deep in the Tigers half not long after the re-start and in possession as the first-half comes down to its final stages.
Sam Costelow can't convert his own try and the difference remains seven points in the final stages of the first half.
TRY | TIGERS
The home side have their second, through Sam Costelow, after the fly-half charges down a Wanderers clearing kick before toeing the ball ahead to out-run the Northampton fullback and dive on the ball to score!
TIGERS CLEAR THE DECKS
Wanderers chip ahead, which Johnny McPhillips sweeps up nicely, before Tigers clear the ball a few phases later.
Wanderers move it to their left hand side in attack but are forced into an error with solid Tigers defence and the home side will feed a scrum on halfway.
MARTIN COUGHS IT UP
George Martin is given a shot ball from his second-row team-mate but coughs it up and hands back possession to the Wanderers inside the Tigers half after the re-start.
Sam Costelow converts the try and cuts the Northampton lead to twelve points with less than ten minutes remaining in the first half.
TRY | TIGERS
The home side go over for their first of the night after a well worked, strong driving maul from 5m out!
It looks like Thom Smith, we're syaing Thom Smith. Great work Thom Smith!
COSTELOW LANDS IT PERFECTLY
The Tigers fly-half kicks for touch from the penalty and lands it inches from the Northampton line for a line-out.
NORTHAMPTON GO SIDE-TO-SIDE
The visitors work the ball across the backline, from side to side, before opting to kick deep into the Tigers half ... WAIT, penalty to Tigers awarded as the Wanderers chasers are ruled offside.
COSTELOW SENDS IT TO THE SKY
The Tigers fly-half sends a big up-and-under to the sky near halfway, which the Wanderers send back with a big boot down field before Costelow is called upon again to kick for territory.
WANDERERS PLAY THEIR ADVANTAGE
With a penalty advantage in their favour, the Wanderers chance their arm with a cross-field kick inside their own half and are awarded a penalty.
The kick for touch to follow doesn't find touch and Kyran Bungaroo brings it back strong from inside the Tigers half.
A successful conversion attempt follows the Wanderers try and the extend their lead to nineteen points after 26 minutes at Welford Road.
TRY | WANDERERS
A well-worked backline move from the scrum deep inside the Tigers half sees the visitors strike through the home team's defence and the fullback go over to score their third.
WANDERERS SCRUM CHANCE
A scrum is awarded to the visitors on the Tigers 22m line following a knock-on at the line-out prior.
GOUGH UNLUCKY IN DEFENCE
A HUGE HIT from Taylor Gough in defence, after Tigers hand possession to the Wanderers, is undone with a penalty against the back-rower at the breakdown to follow and the visitors find touch near the Leicester 22m line.
LAVIN ENDS NORTHAMPTON ATTACK
A brilliant effort at the breakdown, in the mould of Charlie Clare, sees Henri Lavin win a penalty for Tigers and end the Wanderers attack.
Costelow finds touch near halfway.
TIGERS PENALISED AT THE RUCK
Another penalty at the ruck hands Northampton a chance close to the Tigers line as they find touch on the home side's 22m line, in front of the Holland & Barrett Stand, from a clearing kick on halfway.
TIGERS MARCH ON
The home side peg the Wanderers in their own half with some clever kicking from JVP at the base of the ruck and the away side are forced into starting an attack inside their own end.
BACK AND FORTH AND BACK AGAIN
Again, the team's kickers are called upon in a territory battle as they search for much needed metres (or yards) in a battle of the boots!
George Martin steals the Northampton ball at the line-out, which comes down from James Whitcombe who sets off on a Charlie Clare-like run down the field!
TIGERS PENALISED IN ATTACK
After re-starting, the home side regain possession but are penalised in attack at the ruck and hand Northampton a chance inside the Leicester half as they find touch just shy of the Tigers 22m line on the Breedon Stand side of the ground.
The conversion attempt is successful and the Wanderers extend their lead to twelve points after sixteen minutes at Welford Road.
TRY | WANDERERS
Against the run of play, Wanderers gain possession at the Tigers line-out and - through some impressive hands - strike through the home side's defence to run away down field and cross in the corner.
WANDERERS FORCED INTO ERROR
After looking for territory through the boot of Sam Costelow, Wanderers re-start an attack in their own half before being forced into an error through strong Tigers defence and eventually land it in touch.
TIGERS BACK ON THE BALL
The home side have the ball back and are on the attack, inside the Northampton half, with Sam Costelow directing traffic from fly-half.
The Tigers fly-half re-starts the match with a deep kick-off into the Wanderers half.
The Wanderers can't convert from out-wide and their lead remains just five points after eleven minutes at Welford Road.
TRY | WANDERERS
The visitors fin their way through the Tigers defence from the set piece and, with some well worked interplay between Wanderers team-mates, go over for the first try of the night.
The Tigers scrum-half relieves the pressure with booming box-kick, 35m out on the Holland & Barrett Stand side of Welford Road to release the pressure on the home side.
PRESSURE SPILLS OVER
The visitors cough up possession only inches from the line due to pressure in defence from the Tigers side and the home team get the scrum-feed on their own line.
SAINTS MARCH ON
The visitors bring down the line-out and drive towards the home side's line before winning a penalty two phases after the set-piece, deep in the Tigers half.
They kick for touch for another line-out, 5m out.
TIGERS PEGGED IN
The home side face an up-fill battle to fin their way out of their own half after fullback Johnny McPhillips is trapped just inches from the line by chasing Wanderers defenders.
Eventually, thankfully, Jack Van Poortvliet clears from the ruck with a box-kick but only 10m from the Tigers line.
A battle of the boots is underway as both sides search for territory through the boots of their fullbacks and fly-halves.
A chance for points goes begging as a free-kick is awarded the way of Northampton, against the head, at the scrum and they clear into touch past the halfway line.
TIGERS WITHIN TOUCHING DISTANCE
A strong defensive effort forces Northampton to back peddle and eventually they force the ball in their own in-goal.
5m scrum to Tigers at the Robin Hood Stand end of the ground.
WE ARE UNDERWAY!
Sam Costelow gets us underway in tonight's Shield fixture with a long kick-off, deep into the Saints half at the Robin Hood Stand end of the ground.
Warm ups complete and Eminem is blasting over the PA system here at Welford Road ... we're not long away from kick-off now!
Thankfully too, it's freezing. Come on lads, hurry up.
Northampton have made a late change to their matchday squad for this evening's Shield fixture at Welford Road.
To see tonight's line-ups, CLICK HERE,
MERRY MATCH NIGHT!
Welcome to Welford Road ... from wherever you are following tonight's Premiership Rugby Shield fixture!
We are 15 minutes away from kick-off in this Round 3 'derby' clash between the Tigers Development Squad and Northampton Wanderers.