|Leicester Tigers (12) 21|
|Tries: Veain, Toomua, Cons: Ford Pens: Ford 3|
|Northampton Saints (17) 27|
|Tries: Foden, Reinach, Tuala Cons: Myler 3 Pens: Myler 2|
Northampton inflicted a heavy blow on Leicester’s play-off hopes with a dramatic victory at Welford Road.
Saints lost centre Rob Horne after just 13 seconds. He was taken to hospital after injuring himself as he attempted to make the first tackle of the game.
Despite the setback, Ben Foden and Cobus Reinach tries put Saints 17-12 up at the break, with Telusa Veainu and Matt Toomua going over for Tigers.
Ahsee Tuala’s second-half try and two Stephen Myler kicks ensured victory.
Three George Ford penalties were not enough to help the Tigers avoid their first defeat in five games, which leaves Tigers fifth in the table with two game left to try move back into the top four and secure a spot in the play-offs for a 14th successive season.
The East Midlands derby stalled immediately after kick-off with a lengthy delay in play as medics dealt with stand-in captain Horne, who was floored with a head injury after colliding with lock Graham Kitchener as he collected the ball.
Saints, 10th in the table and looking for their first win in five games, then resisted the pressure heaped on them before a rampaging run from Paul Hill had Tigers scrambling in defence and Foden capitalised by going over in the corner.
Myler added a penalty to make it 10-0 before Tigers responded, with powerhouse England prop Ellis Genge oddloading to Veainu to finish before Kitchener charged down a Reinach kick, which Toomua pounced on to score.
Reinach, however, ensured that Saints led at half-time, meeting an inside pass from Teimana Harrison to dart through Tigers’ defence to score, and the scrum-half then set Tuala up for the first try of the second half.
Ford teed up two penalties either side of Alex Waller’s yellow card for Northampton, only for Myler to land a decisive penalty of his own with 13 minutes remaining.
The home fans roared on the introduction of England international Ben Youngs on his return from a knee injury in a tense second half. But, although Ford brought up 1,000 Premiership point with a 71st minute penalty, the hosts fell short of victory when a late Jonah Holmes was ruled out by the television match official.
Leicester Tigers: Veainu; Thompstone, Smith, Toomua, May; G Ford, Harrison; Genge, T Youngs (capt), Cole, M Fitzgerald, Kitchener, Mapapalangi, Hamilton, Kalamafoni.
Replacements: Polota-Nau, Bateman, Mulipola, Wells, Evans, B Youngs, Worth, Holmes.
Northampton Saints: Tuala; Foden, Horne (capt), Francis, North; Myler, Reinach; Ma’afu, Haywood, Hill, Ratuniyarawa, Craig, Gibson, Harrison, Eadie.
Replacements: Clare, Waller, Painter, Paterson, Nutley, Mitchell, Burrell, Collins.
Referee: Matthew Carley.