Aviva Premiership: Manu Tuilagi helps Leicester beat Northampton
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 30/03/13 5:42pm
Leicester Tigers once again proved themselves to be top dogs in the east midlands with a 36-8 triumph over Northampton at Franklin's Gardens.
Centre Manu Tuilagi crossed for two of his side's four tries, all scored in the second half, as Leicester made it seven straight wins in the derby battle.
While their rivals look serious title contenders the Saints are peering nervously over their shoulders; although they remain in fourth place in the table they are level on points with Gloucester with three rounds to go.
Worryingly they were second best in two vastly contrasting halves; the first was a forwards battle that saw Leicester have the upper hand in terms of both territory and possession.
They built up a 12-3 advantage by the break courtesy of four penalties from Flood, Northampton's only response coming courtesy of the boot of Stephen Myler on a rare foray into the opposing half.
Crucially, though, the Saints finished the first 40 minutes a man light, Courtney Lawes seeing yellow for a deliberate knock-on when a Tigers try looked a certainty following a turnover.
By the time the lock returned to the field his side were 14 points adrift and needing to climb an east midlands mountain. It proved far too much for them to scale, even when Leicester themselves had a man sin-binned.
Tuilagi crashed through Ben Foden on the left to get his first of the afternoon and even though Northampton's hopes were briefly raised by a Myler try from close range, the Tigers now had the bit between their teeth.
Even when down to 14 they still found a way to score, phase after phase in attack eventually resulting in Tuilagi brushing off Tom May to get over.
Winger Niall Morris made amends for his 10 minutes in the bin by grabbing a try himself, with the fourth duly arriving six minutes from time.
Mathew Tait was on hand to finish a move that had all started with a sizzling break from the outstanding Tom Croft, the score rounding out a joyful afternoon for Leicester ahead of their Heineken Cup trip to Toulon.
Aviva Premiership 2012/13 Round 19
Sale boss Steve Diamond was thrilled after the Sharks secured three crucial points in the 33-33 draw at London Irish.
Worcester coach Richard Hill says the sin-binning of Josh Matavesi was the turning point in their 24-18 loss to Exeter.
Richard Cockerill says he has never seen Manu Tuilagi play better than his performance in the 36-8 rout of Northampton.
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