Northampton slumped to their third consecutive defeat on Saturday after going down 16-12 to Leicester at Welford Road.
Northampton Saints slumped to their third consecutive defeat on Saturday after going down 16-12 to Leicester Tigers in a compelling but low-scoring East Midlands derby at Welford Road.
The result sees Leicester climb above their visitors and into the leading quartet in the Premiership standings.
Tigers centre Matt Smith scored the only try of the game early in the second half after the teams had swapped ends locked at 6-6.
It was a far cry from the high-action encounters between these teams that we've become used to over the years but there was no lack of tension as Saints pushed hard to grab the spoils in the dying minutes.
Tigers should have already been well clear but young fly-half George Ford had a nightmare at the kicking tee, missing five shots at goal.
Despite the array of attacking talent on display, the action was largely dominated by the two forward packs.
Leicester lock Graham Kitchener and Australian flanker Julian Salvi led the way as the hosts won the war of attrition, though Northampton were in contention right until the final whistle.
Two Ryan Lamb penalties in the first 15 minutes gave the Saints an early lead, but the Tigers were able to find a response. After a period of territorial dominance, they were able to level the scores courtesy of a couple of three-pointers from Ford.
Vereniki Goneva laid the platform for the game's only try, which came just minutes after the restart. The Fijian steamed through a gap in the Northampton defence and looked destined for the try-line, but he did even better to find the supporting Smith, who streamed away to give the hosts a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Ford's conversion made it 13-6, but Northampton quickly cut the deficit back courtesy of a third Lamb penalty.
Neither side were able to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the minutes that followed, but Leicester appeared content to sit on their lead.
They put seven points back between themselves and the Saints when Ford added a third penalty and, though Lamb's three-pointer five minutes from the end ensured a tense finish, the Tigers were able to hold on for the win.
Pens: Ford 3
Pens: Lamb 4
Yellow card: Lamb (77th min – professional foul)
Leicester Tigers: 15 Geordan Murphy (c), 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Niall Morris, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Richard Thorpe, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Steve Mafi 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Michael Noone, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Dan Bowden, 23 Vereniki Goneva.
Northampton Saints: 15 Tom May 14 Ken Pisi 13 George Pisi 12 Dom Waldouck 11 Jamie Elliott 10 Ryan Lamb 9 Martin Roberts 8 GJ Van Velze 7 Phil Dowson (capt) 6 Calum Clark 5 Mark Sorenson 4 Samu Manoa 3 Brian Mujati 2 Mike Haywood 1 Soane Tonga'uiha
Replacements: 16 Ross Mcmillan 17 Alex Waller 18 Paul Doran Jones 19 Ben Nutley 20 Rhys Oakley 21 Alex Day 22 Luther Burrell 23 Vasily Artemyev
Venue: Welford Road
Referee: Greg Garner