Premiership: Leicester Tigers 30-27 Northampton Saints

By Brendon MitchellBBC Sport
Freddie Burns
Fly-half Freddie Burns was introduced off the bench after Owen Williams had been withdrawn through injury
Leicester Tigers (21) 30
Tries: Smith, McCaffrey, Williams Cons: Williams 3 Pens: Burns 3
Northampton Saints (10) 27
Tries: Harrison, North, Gibson Cons: Hanrahan 2, Myler Pens: Hanrahan, Myler
Relive Saturday's Premiership rugby

Freddie Burns' last-gasp penalty secured victory for Leicester over East Midlands rivals Northampton in dire conditions at Welford Road.

The hosts led 21-0 after 22 minutes, with Matt Smith, Lachlan McCaffrey and Owen Williams all touching down.

Tries from Teimana Harrison, George North and Jamie Gibson wrestled Saints back into it, before Burns and Stephen Myler traded kicks to make it 27-27.

But Tigers, boosted by the return of Manu Tuilagi, stole it at the death.

England centre Tuilagi, who ended speculation linking him with a move away from Leicester by signing a new contract last month, had not played since October 2014 because of an ongoing groin problem.

But the 24-year-old came on for the final 29 minutes against Northampton, demonstrating his trademark physicality as Leicester eventually broke their resistance with the final kick of the game.

Richard Cockerill's side, comfortably beaten by Saracens last week, had looked to be cruising to victory when tries from Smith, McCaffrey and Williams, who was later taken off with a suspected broken jaw, put them in command after a dominant opening quarter.

But Harrison's score following a line-out catch-and-drive moments before half-time gave Saints hope, and North ran from deep inside his own half to drag them to within four points early in the second period.

Shortly after Northampton had a further try through Paul Hill ruled out for a high tackle, two Burns penalties stretched Leicester's lead back to 10 points - only for Gibson's touchdown against his former club and Myler's penalty with five minutes to go to leave the scores tied.

However, Burns, who had already missed one drop-goal attempt, split the posts from the tee to send Tigers up to fourth in the table, seven points above their fifth-placed local rivals.

Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill:

"Credit to them for getting back into it, but credit to our players for the first 30 minutes and then for digging themselves out of a hole they probably shouldn't have got themselves into.

"Good sides win when they do some average things, and we did some average things today but we found a way to win, however fortuitous that may or may not have been."

Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder:

"My reaction is clearly one of disappointment. I spoke to Courtney Lawes afterwards, and he said he tripped (in the incident that led to the last-minute penalty being awarded).

"In the first half, we had a terrible 20 minutes - they were good, but we were terrible for 20 minutes - and you should not go 21-0 down at Welford Road."

Leicester Tigers: Veainu; Betham, Tait, Smith, Thompstone; Williams, B Youngs; Ayerza, T Youngs (capt), Cole, De Chaves, Kitchener, Fitzgerald, O'Connor, McCaffrey.

Replacements: Thacker, Mulipola, Balmain, Pearce, Croft, Harrison, Burns, Tuilagi.

Northampton Saints: Foden; Elliott, North, Burrell, Collins; Hanrahan, Dickson (capt); Waller, Haywood, Hill, Lawes, Matfield, Gibson, Harrison, Dickinson.

Replacements: Williams, Waller, Denman, Day, Wood, Kessell, Myler, Mallinder.

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