Premiership: Leicester Tigers 19-11 Northampton Saints
|Leicester (13) 19|
|Tries: Thompstone Con: Burns Pens: Burns 3, Williams|
|Northampton (11) 11|
|Tries: Haywood Pens: Myler 2|
Adam Thompstone scored a try and was sin-binned in quick succession as Leicester overcame Northampton in a fierce East Midlands derby.
Saints centre Luther Burrell was first to see yellow for a high hit on George Worth inside two minutes.
After Thompstone's try and yellow for tackling George North in the air, Mikey Haywood grabbed Saints' try as the visitors trailed 13-11 at the break.
Freddie Burns and Owen Williams landed second-half penalties to seal the win.
Williams' kick at the end of a torrid second half, which saw Northampton resist relentless Tigers pressure, denied Jim Mallinder's side a losing bonus point for their exhausting efforts.
- North 'fit to play' despite heavy fall
- Bath hold on to beat leaders Saracens
- Gloucester rally to beat rivals Bristol
The tone for a ferocious first 40 minutes was set almost immediately as Burrell was sin-binned.
Leicester took advantage with Thompstone's converted try before the visitors were back to full strength, and likewise Saints made their man advantage count when the winger was yellow carded himself.
Thompstone's challenge on North, a player with a history of suffering head injuries, was cause for concern as the Wales winger - in his first game back from international duty - landed awkwardly. Despite going off for a head injury assessment, he was cleared to play on.
A Stephen Myler penalty at the end of the first half set up a tense second half, with Northampton keeping themselves in the contest with an immense defensive display, but their sixth defeat in 10 league games leaves them eight in the table.
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill told BBC Radio Leicester:
"It's a great win. It was messy, a bit untidy after we got a great start, a good lead.
"We put a huge among of pressure on in the second half. We were unlucky with some of the decisions around how they defended their goalline, but that is life. But we are happy to send them home with nothing.
"I thought Adam was unlucky to go to the sin-bin, but not sure the referee had many other choices.
"The ball bounced awkwardly, Adam turns and North is competing for the ball so he jumps on top of Adam and ends up getting tilted. It is a difficult one because everyone gets sensitive about it - the crowd cheers, everyone rushes in and the referee blows his whistle nice and loud and suddenly it is a big problem.
"That turned the game a little bit, they go to the corner and it is 10-7 and we gave them some oxygen with a man down."
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder:
"It was a mixed performance. There was a lot of effort and some good periods.
"Our set-piece has been going well and our defence is good - we held them out for long periods. We had opportunities and when you are away from home you have to take them. We had a chance with a few minutes to go and got turned over.
On North playing on after requiring a head injury assessment: "I don't make those decisions and our doctors and medical staff are really clear that if anyone gets knocked unconscious or has had a knock where they look like they are unconscious, they need to come straight off.
"It's as simple as that. You don't go to be assessed - you are off straight away. George has had some previous issues so he took it steady.
"The doctor was very, very happy even as he walked off that he was just going to go for an assessment and thankfully he could come back on."
Leicester: Worth; Thompstone, Betham, Williams, Brady; Burns, Kitto; Mulipola, Thacker, Bateman, Slater (capt), Kitchener, Fitzgerald, O'Connor, Hamilton.
Replacements: McGuigan, Genge, Cilliers, McCaffrey, Evans, Harrison, Tuilagi, Pietersen.
Northampton: Foden (capt); Elliott, Burrell, Hanrahan, North; Myler, Kessell; Waller, Haywood, Hill, Paterson, Craig, Gibson, Nutley, Picamoles.
Replacements: Clare, Waller, Denman, Ratuniyarawa, Ludlam, Groom, G Pisi, K Pisi.