Fly-half Zack Henry was Leicester’s hero with 20 points as the Tigers edged out local rivals Northampton 28-24 at Welford Road. Henry, standing in for the injured George Ford, kicked five penalties and converted Ben Youngs’ early try.
He also added a drop goal to ensure his side avenged a 36-13 defeat at Franklin’s Gardens back in November. Freddie Steward scored Leicester’s other points with a penalty.
Northampton outscored their opponents three tries to one, Paul Hill and Henry Taylor crossing in the second half to go with a first-half penalty try, while Dan Biggar kicked a penalty and two conversions.
However, they still crashed to a sixth defeat in seven matches since the resumption after failing to take advantage of Tigers’ three yellow cards.
Biggar’s penalty gave Saints a fourth-minute lead but it was the home side who soon scored the first try.
Northampton full-back George Furbank was heavily tackled by Nemani Nadolo and lost possession for Youngs to pick up the loose ball and run 30 metres to score.
Henry converted and added two penalties in quick succession to give Tigers a 13-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The outside half should have extended that advantage but his straightforward kick rebounded back off a post, although moments later he was back on target with an even easier attempt.
The visitors were comfortably second best in the opening 25 minutes with ill-discipline and frequent handling errors not helping their cause.
They also suffered an injury setback when prop Francois Van Wyk hobbled off, but they received a boost when home lock Tomas Lavanini was sin-binned after dragging down a driving maul.
From the resulting line-out, Saints attacked again and were rewarded with a penalty try award from Wayne Barnes, with the referee issuing another yellow card, this time to flanker Harry Wells.
It looked bleak for the hosts especially, when they lost centre Guy Porter to a head injury assessment, but somehow they held on with 13 men before a long-range penalty from Steward saw them increase their lead to 19-10 at half-time.
Henry resumed goalkicking duties and five minutes after the restart he kicked his fourth penalty, with Saints changing five players in a short period in an attempt to try and reverse their fortunes.
The move should have paid dividends but Taqele Naiyaravoro charged straight into Steward when a simple pass to a support player would have seen Saints score their second try.
However, Leicester number eight Hanro Liebenberg became the third home forward to be sin-binned as he dragged down a line-out drive, and Saints capitalised when replacement prop Hill waltzed through the defence to score an excellent individual try.
Northampton lock David Ribbans collected a yellow card for a high tackle as playing numbers were reduced once again.
Henry missed with the resulting penalty but he made amends with a neatly-taken drop-goal and then a late penalty to see his side over the winning line.
In the final minute, replacement scrum-half Taylor crossed for a converted try to gain Saints a losing bonus point.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now