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Leicester close to semi-final spot

Leicester Tigers put one foot in the LV= Cup semi-finals with a hard fought 17-8 victory at home to great rivals Northampton.

Their third successive win puts them on 13 points at the top of Pool Three and they will make the last four if Wasps lose at home to Cardiff tomorrow.

Northampton top Pool Two but will lose top spot if Cardiff beat Wasps.

Leicester scored first-half tries through Sebastian De Chaves and Laurence Pearce, while Howard Packman replied with one in the second half for Saints.

Owen Williams kicked two conversions and a penalty for Leicester, Will Hooley a penalty for the Saints.

Both teams fielded second string sides but there was no shortage of thrills, or spills, for the sell-out 24,000 crowd, the biggest in the history of the competition outside the semi-finals and final.

It was a typical blood and thunder east midlands derby and Leicester had the better of the first half.

With both teams unbeaten and top of their pools on nine points, there was plenty at stake and the Tigers led 14-3 at the break thanks to tries from lock De Chaves and former Rotherham number eight Pearce.

But Northampton had their moments, especially in the final minutes of the half when they laid siege to the Leicester line and flanker Teimana Harrison and scrum-half Hooley both came close to scoring.

Leicester opened the scoring in the sixth minute after they turned down the chance of a penalty in favour of going for the try from a line-out and drive, De Chaves surging over after the forwards had driven to the line.

Fly-half Williams kicked the conversion and, after fly-half Hooley had kicked a penalty for Saints, Tigers scored their second try thanks to a searing 35 metres break by centre Jack Roberts.

Although he was hauled down just short of the line by scrum-half Joel Hodgson, Leicester recycled the ball and Pearce smashed through a tackle to score from close range. Williams again slotted the conversion to make it 14-3.

Northampton did everything but score at the end of the half, Harrison and Hooley both coming up short as they reached for the line after terrific attacks.

Leicester continued to go for tries after the break, twice turning down shots at goal, but their finishing let them down after the line-out.

They threw on some of their big guns, including prop Logovi'i Mulipola and scrum-half David Mele but was Northampton who scored, left winger Howard Packman winning the race for replacement Sam Olver's grubber kick. Olver missed the conversion.

There was plenty of huff and puff from both sides - errors too - but both defences were solid so with four minutes left Leicester opted to kick a penalty for the first time, Williams making it 17-8.

Northampton then staged a grandstand finish and had a chance to score from a scrum in front of the post but the ball squirted out and Leicester hacked it upfield.


From Belfast Telegraph