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Saturday, March 13, 1999 Published at 18:28 GMT


Leicester move out of sight

The win puts Leicester eight points clear

Northampton 15-22 Leicester

Leaders Leicester put one hand on the Allied Dunbar Premiership Trophy with a priceless victory over their closest title rivals at Franklin's Garden.

But it took an injury-time penalty try, awarded against Northampton's front row for collapsing a scrum, before the Tigers could celebrate and embark on a lap of honour.

Controversy

A thunderous match was not without controversy, Leicester captain Martin Johnson once again falling foul of the match official.


Caroline Short reports for BBC Sport
Irish referee David McHugh, who yellow-carded Johnson for stamping during England's Five Nations Championship victory over Scotland last month, this time sin-binned him for over-vigorous rucking.

On the past four weekends, Johnson has now collected two yellow cards and two white cards, although his sin-bin offence against Richmond a fortnight ago has since been quashed by Rugby Football Union disciplinary chiefs.

Two others players, Leicester fly-half Pat Howard and Northampton prop Matt Volland, were also sin-binned during a fast and furious second half when Matt Dawson's goal-kicking kept Northampton in contention.

He landed five penalties after taking over the kicking duties from his England team-mate Paul Grayson, who was ruled out of this top-of-the-table contest.

Tense first half

A tight and tense first half was brought to life when Leicester's Scottish international Craig Joiner scored a sparkling break-away try after full-back Tim Stimpson attack from deep and created the opening.

Dawson had kicked Northampton into the lead, but Leicester just about did enough to deserve their 5-3 interval advantage.

Dawson and Stimpson then exchanged early second half penalties, before Dawson completed his penalty hat-trick and Northampton led 9-8 approaching the final quarter.

The Saints almost scored a superb try of their own, but wing Ben Cohen was brought down just in front of the Leicester post. That bout of play sparked a serious flurry of fists, which ended with McHugh warning Richard Cockerill and Dawson.

However, it was a disbelieving Howard who found himself in the sin-bin and Dawson slotted a simple 15-metre penalty.

When Johnson followed Howard Leicester were down to 13 men and their victory hopes seemed impossible.

But they fought back like champions and England's back row forward Martin Corry crashed over for a try from a line-out which Stimpson converted from the touch-line.

Another Dawson penalty levelled the scores, but Northampton failed to hold on and when the penalty try was awarded it left the home side with too much to do with only seconds left.



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