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Leicester defeat Northampton to make sure of Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final place

Leicester booked a place in the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-finals with a battling 27-20 home win over neighbours Northampton.

The Tigers' third win in three games means they cannot be caught in Pool Four and ended a miserable run of five successive defeats in all competitions.

However, the Saints' first defeat in this season's competition means they will struggle to qualify from Pool One.

Leicester scored three tries through Will Evans, Dom Barrow and Harry Thacker, with Owen Williams kicking 12 points.

Harry Mallinder, Nafi Tuitavake and Rory Hutchinson replied for the visitors in a game where Leicester's Michele Rizzo and Saints' Ken Pisi were yellow carded.

Leicester, fielding a much changed side, put their recent troubles behind them in a decent first half to turn round with a 17-8 lead, scoring two tries to Northampton's one.

Flanker Evans and lock Barrow crossed for the hosts, with fly-half Williams converting both and adding a penalty, while centre Mallinder replied for the Saints.

Fly-half Sam Olver missed the conversion but kicked a penalty in a half which saw Pisi punished for a tip tackle and Rizzo also see yellow for barging into a maul.

It was a welcome relief for most of the 25,849 crowd who, in recent weeks, have lost five times and seen Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill depart.

After last week's 43-0 European Champions Cup defeat at home to Glasgow captain, Tom Youngs said Leicester were at the 'bottom of the pit'.

The Tigers are now scouring the world for a new boss - but the person occupying the role on an interim basis, Aaron Mauger, would have been delighted with the way his team started.

They dominated the opening quarter and in the 20th minute Evans barrelled his way over from a ruck on the line.

The lead however lasted just three minutes, with Mallinder finishing off a move after Pisi beat Mathew Tait to an up-and-under.

Williams kicked a penalty and Olver missed one before good work by centre Jack Roberts and scrum-half Jono Kitto created a try for Barrow.

Leicester lost Evans with a leg injury just after the restart and Williams missed an easy penalty in the 45th minute but 10 minutes later the TMO awarded a try to hooker Thacker, who scrambled over from short range. Williams converted to make it 24-8.

Centre Tuitavake put Northampton back in the game with a well-worked try in the 69th minute, converted by Olver.

Williams sealed victory for the hosts with a 76th minute penalty, before replacement Hutchinson scored a consolation try for Northampton in the final seconds.

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