Leicester book their play-off spot

Date published: May 16 2015

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Leicester made sure of their place in the play-offs thanks to a 22-14 victory over their rivals Northampton Saints at Welford Road.

Another week and another Midlands derby for the Tigers, who last week beat Wasps in the first meeting since the now Coventry-based side's move.

This time around, the opposition was table-topping Northampton, and with a top four place still to be secured, Leicester made the perfect start with Freddie Burns kicking a penalty just five minutes into proceedings.

James Wilson levelled though on the 22, but soon after Tigers grabbed the first try of the game  12 minutes in.

Jordan Crane claimed it, finding himself right at the heart of a maul that despite the efforts of Saints to drag it off the pitch, crept over in the corner to the delight of the Welford Road support.

Burns' conversion effort was wayward, but Tigers held that strong early position for most of the half.

Two Wilson kicks did drag Northampton right back into the game though, and they were able to take a slender lead into half-time.

Almost immediately after the sides emerged though, Leicester took the advantage back as Burns kicked another penalty in what was expectedly a very closely fought first 50 minutes.

But the turning point did come for the hosts, after they thought they had grabbed a second try, only for Burns' effort to be deemed as not being grounded on the edge of the line.

Continued drives forward from Tigers eventually told, but not in terms of tries, but rather yellow cards.

Saints were reduced to 13 within 60 seconds, Gareth Denman the first after a fourth penalty in quick succession was conceded.

And then it was the turn of Salesi Ma'afu to go back into the stands, only seconds after being brought on. Burns quickly kicked Tigers further ahead from a penalty, and that warranted a huge and almost never-ending spell of Tigers knocking on the Saints door.

On 57 minutes, Leicester could crucially find a way past the determined 13 men of Northampton, and in truth it was from their own mistake.

Saints lost a lineout five metres from their own line, and Niall Morris broke through the line for a second Tigers try, though Burns couldn't convert, Tommy Bell took over kicking duties and kicked Tigers closer to the play-offs.

But Northampton gave themselves a lifeline five minutes from time, Tom Stephenson grabbing their first try of the afternoon. The conversion from Sam Olver crucially fell wide though, meaning Saints would need more than a converted try to turn the game around.

And Tigers were able to see the game out to ensure they had their place in the top four sealed, keeping alive their hopes of Premiership glory.

The scorers:

For Leicester:
Tries: Crane, Morris
Pens: Burns 3, Bell

For Northampton:
Tries: Stephenson
Pens: Wilson 3
Yellow Cards: Denman, Ma'afu

Leicester: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Christian Loamanu, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs (c), 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Ed Slater, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Jack Roberts

Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 Dom Waldouck, 12 Tom Stephenson, 11 Tom Collins, 10 James Wilson, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Jon Fisher, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Phil Dowson (c), 5 James Craig, 4 Sam Dickinson, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Corbisiero 
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Christian Day, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Howard Packman

Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Peter Huckle
TMO: Rowan Kitt

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