Owen Williams kicks Leicester Tigers to a thrilling East Midlands derby victory against Northampton

Sports Staff
The Independent
Leicester players celebrate their victory: Getty
Leicester players celebrate their victory: Getty

Owen Williams held his nerve to hand Leicester victory in a thrilling East Midlands derby at Franklin's Gardens.

Williams, who was a half-time replacement for Freddie Burns, landed two late kicks to secure a 36-31 victory for Tigers against local rivals Northampton.

Leicester were down to 14 men late on, having had replacement Mike Williams sin-binned, but it mattered not as they gave interim boss Aaron Mauger the perfect final game in charge with a crucial Aviva Premiership success.

It was a seventh successive win against the Saints for Tigers, who moved into the top four, above Bath.

Northampton's top-four hopes now look extremely slim as they were unable to build on first-half tries from Nafi Tuitavake, Ahsee Tuala and Louis Picamoles.

Tuitavake pounced inside the opening three minutes as Leicester full-back Telusa Veainu misjudged a high ball and Saints' Tonga centre picked up the pieces to score.

Stephen Myler converted to give the home side an early 7-0 advantage, but Leicester responded almost immediately.

Northampton's defence was wide open and winger Adam Thompstone walked straight through to grab his team's first try.

Burns had the simple task of levelling things up with the easy conversion, but Leicester were not all square for long.

France number eight Picamoles produced one of his trademark bursts and offloads to set up Northampton full-back Tuala for a try.

Picamoles was in thunderous form (Getty)
Picamoles was in thunderous form (Getty)

Myler again added the extras, but Leicester were straight back at the Saints door, winning a scrum penalty that Burns landed to cut the gap to four points.

Burns was at it again soon after, slotting another kick after another scrum call went against Saints.

However, in open play, the home side boasted the game's stand-out player, with Picamoles calling the shots.

And the Frenchman soon used his power to score Northampton's third try, charging over the line after a spell of pressure.

Burns scored an important drop-kick (Getty)
Burns scored an important drop-kick (Getty)

Myler missed the conversion and Burns soon landed a lovely drop goal, making the most of his team's advantage to continue the back-and-forth nature of the game.

Northampton tried to turn up the heat once more before the break, with a tidy Tom Wood offload starting a move that ended with a penalty, which Myler kicked to make it 22-16.

The hosts thought they had racked up the bonus point before the break, but Christian Day's foot was deemed to be in touch as he dived over in the corner.

Leicester were forced to replace Burns and Brendon O'Connor with Owen Williams and Lachlan McCaffrey at half-time, but it was they who came out firing.

Ben Youngs grabbed a score, racing down the left before dotting down, with Owen Williams converting to give the away side a one-point lead.

Youngs ran over for Leicester (Getty)
Youngs ran over for Leicester (Getty)

But Myler was quickly on the mark with a penalty to put Northampton back in front, and the fly-half was at it again with another three points soon after.

Leicester were then reduced to 14 men for 10 of the final 12 minutes as Mike Williams was sin-binned for a no-arms hit on Teimana Harrison.

Myler was to miss the penalty chance that would have put Saints eight points up, and Jim Mallinder's men were made to pay.

Tigers roared back and McCaffrey scored, with Owen Williams converting to put his team 30-28 up with nine minutes remaining.

Myler again restored Saints' advantage with a fine penalty attempt, but Tigers were to have the final say as Owen Williams landed the two kicks that won the match and sent off departing head coach Mauger in style.

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