Lowly Northampton emerge from deep rut to stun Leicester
After five defeats in a row, Saints found form at Welford Road.
Leicester crashed out of the Aviva Premiership top four after a shock 27-21 defeat at home to struggling Northampton in a feisty derby.
They were replaced by Wasps who beat Worcester. In completing only their second double over Leicester, the Saints ended the Tigers’ five-match winning run and halted their own sorry run of five defeats.
Northampton deserved the win which came thanks to tries by Ben Foden, Cobus Reinach and Ahsee Tuala, with Stephen Myler kicking 12 points.
Leicester, who picked up a losing bonus point, scored tries through Telusa Veainu and Matt Toomua. Saints’ Alex Waller was yellow-carded.
Northampton recovered from the loss of captain Rob Horne at the kick-off to lead 17-12 at half-time despite being under the cosh for most of the opening 40 minutes.
Horne was knocked out when he ran into number eight Sione Kalamafoni, but Northampton took the chances that came their way to score tries through winger Foden and scrum-half Reinach, with Myler converting both and adding a penalty.
During the build-up, flanker Tom Wood accused Saints of “downing tools” after their 2014 title win, but they did not play like a team that had lost a long run of games, sitting third from bottom.
Leicester, the form team with 24 points from their last six games, were their own worst enemies. They created a hatful of chances but failed to capitalise on breaks by centre Toomua and winger Jonny May, while hooker Tom Youngs twice missed his man in attacking line-outs.
Trailing 10-0, Leicester finally troubled the scoreboard in the 21st minute when full-back Veainu got on the end of a break into the 22 by prop Ellis Genge. George Ford converted.
Eight minutes later Toomua scored after Graham Kitchener had charged down Reinach’s clearance, Ford failing with the conversion.
But, seven minutes from half time, Reinach scored from a line-out, exposing weaknesses in the Leicester defence in the way Foden had for his simple try on the left wing in the ninth minute.
Saints silenced many in the sell-out 25,849 Welford Road crowd with their third try five minutes after the interval, full-back Tuala finishing off a break by Reinach.
Myler converted but Ford kicked penalties in the 58th and 64th minutes, the latter after Waller had been sin-binned for a high tackle, to put Leicester within six points.
Myler’s 69th-minute penalty put Northampton 27-18 ahead, and Ford kicked his third before Toomua wasted a golden opportunity when his pass went behind Luke Hamilton on the line.
With four minutes left there was drama when the referee chalked off a try for Leicester replacement Jonah Holmes after obstruction by George Worth, allowing Northampton to cling on.